When we started thinking about homeschooling as a possibility for our children, I immediately started researching as much as I could about homeschooling. I wanted to know everything about curriculum, sample schedules, room setups, etc, etc. As I was diving into my research I started to feel overwhelmed with it all. One common theme that kept reappearing was the different philosophies of education for homeschooling.
It took me back to my days as a music education major in college. One of the first classes in both my music education as well as my general education courses was Philosophy of Music Education and Philosophy of Education. I don’t think I understood at that time the importance of knowing your philosophy of education. When you are the one making all the choices for your children’s learning as opposed to a school board, it is vital that you know how you feel about education. You need to think about what you feel is most important. What are your core beliefs about learning and teaching? What are the goals you have for your children?
It is kind of like a mission statement for a business. A good business will have a mission statement that all the decisions to be made will be tested against in order to stay in line with the ultimate goals of the business. If you know your philosophy of education, it makes those decisions for curriculum and schedule so much easier. It gives reason to the decisions made instead of just choosing on a whim and seeing where it goes.
Some of the popular philosophies of homeschooling education out there are:
- Charlotte Mason
- School-at-Home/Online Schooling
- Unit Studies
There are tons of resources out there for all these different methods. For me, when I was reading about these various methods, there was one in particular that kept rising to the top. It consistently checked all my boxes of what I cared most about for my philosophy of education and what I wanted for my children.
The Charlotte Mason method for education is what best fits my style of teaching and our goals as a family. Knowing about this method and choosing to follow this style has helped immensely in guiding my decisions about our curriculum, our schedule, and our mindset. It also helps keep me passionate and energetic about homeschooling. There is a method to the madness. There is purpose in it all. And I enjoy this way of teaching and learning!
Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late 1800s and early 1900s who believed, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” Here are some of the things I love about the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education:
-The belief in a broad education / Educating the whole person
I love that our curriculum is rich not only in math and reading, but equally so in history, geography, life skills, and the arts.
-The use of Living Books
Living books, as opposed to text books, are usually written in narrative form by one author who is knowledgable and passionate about that subject. Good time-tested literature is filling our family library.
Growing up, I was a good straight-A student and a good test taker, but was I truly learning? Could I tell you about what I had learned? Probably not. Was I comfortable carrying on a conversation with other people about things I was learning? Definitely not … I still struggle with that in fact.
It is important to me that our children be able to speak of what they have learned and to be able to speak well. Reading a chapter of a textbook and filling in the blank to some questions is not learning in my opinion. But if you can read or listen to something and then retell it (this is basically what narration is), then you have truly learned it. Poetry memorization and recitation as well as storytelling is also included in this development of orality.
A proud homeschool-mom moment was on a family trip to Traverse City, Michigan. We took a boat ride on this huge sail boat that was a replica of an 1800’s coasting cargo schooner (Tall Ship Manitou). We had read the book Carry On, Mr. Bowditch the previous year. My 10 year old asked the captain of the ship if he had ever heard of Nathaniel Bowditch. The captain did a double take. He said usually people ask him about Captain Jack Sparrow! Then he asked the kids if they knew what Nathaniel Bowditch was known for, and my 8 year old spoke up, “Navigation!” The captain was so impressed, and I was so excited to sit back and watch my kids not only remember and connect what we’d learned but also to carry on an intelligent conversation with an adult about it!
-The emphasis on Nature Study
“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” ~ Charlotte Mason
Other things I like about Charlotte Mason:
-The method for teaching spelling; using dictation quizzes as opposed to long spelling lists (what lists are used are made from mistakes seen in the student’s work)
-The motto: I am, I can, I ought, I will
I am a child of God.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
I ought to do my duty to God and others.
I will choose the right.
-Inclusion of Shakespeare and foreign language even in elementary ages
-Family Bible study time with Scripture memorization (not simplified versions of verses, but entire passages … They can do it!)
-The schedule: short lessons varying the type of skill/focus required
The curriculum we use:
We’ve been following the Charlotte Mason philosophy of homeschool education for 3 years now, and I love it. I’ve seen huge successes in our kids using this method. Of course there have been various things that we’ve tried, failed, and then changed to work better for us. You always have to be adapting to meet your child’s learning style and needs, but having the Charlotte Mason philosophy as our backbone works well for our family.
There is not one “right” philosophy of education. Just because I agree with the reasons behind the Charlotte Mason method, doesn’t mean it is the only way to go and all other philosophies are wrong. It is just what fits for me as a teacher and for what I want for our children. Figuring that out is the first important step that shouldn’t be skipped if you are thinking about homeschooling and is an important one to revisit if you’ve been homeschooling for a while.
If you want to talk homeschooling, I’m always up for it! Just leave a comment below!
*Also, check out our post on why we chose to start homeschooling.