Monday, August 5, 2013

Beginning a Charlotte Mason Preschool

A Charlotte Mason Preschool is a bit of an oxymoron, if you know anything about Charlotte Mason principles.  That being said, many homeschooling families often have preschool age children following along who want schoolwork of their own, and mom (or dad or siblings) must find ways to entertain and educate in developmentally and age appropriate ways.  Or perhaps your child is like my oldest.  When he was 4, all of his cousins and friends that were close in age were starting Pre-K and Kindergarten and he wanted to go to school too.  That meant I had to find a way to appease his natural curiosity, while still keeping things in line with my newly discovered educational philosophy.

This week the Schoolhouse Review Crew is having a "5 Days of . . . " blog hop and I'm sharing 5 Days of Charlotte Mason Preschool!

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First, I want to say that I am not an expert on all of Charlotte Mason's philosophies and methods.  These are just my rambling thoughts based on my limited experience over the last few years with my young children.

Who Was Charlotte Mason?
Charlotte Mason was a British educator that believed education goes far beyond names and dates and memorizing disjointed facts.  She believed that "education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life."  We should give living ideas to our children from an early age.  They deserve real ideas and knowledge to grow, to learn and to form their own connections.  I believe her methods provide a gentle introduction into education for preschoolers.

What Are Charlotte Mason's Methods?
There are many methods that are attributed to a Charlotte Mason education.  Some of the most noted include:
  • living books
  • narration
  • copywork
  • dictation
  • nature study
  • art study
  • music appreciation
  • handicrafts
  • habit training
However, she believed that formal lessons should not be started until the child is emotionally and developmentally ready - usually around age 6.

"A child will have taught himself to paint, paste, cut paper, knit, weave, hammer and saw, make lovely things in clay and sand, build castles with his bricks; possibly, too, will have taught himself to read, write, and do sums, besides acquiring no end of knowledge and notions about the world he lives in, by the time he is six or seven."
~ Charlotte Mason

A child will have taught himself!  That means if we provide the opportunity, our children can grow and learn, in their own time.  There is no rush to teach the academics yet.  Some of these "methods" that accompany formal lessons do not even apply in the preschool years.  A young child should be learning through play, exploration and real life experiences, but there are many of her methods that can still be applied for eager preschoolers as they transition to school age.

Throughout the rest of the week, I will be discussing some of the Charlotte Mason methods that are appropriate for preschoolers, but today I want to start with an important method that is essential not only to a Charlotte Mason education, but is important for any family, and that is Habit Training.

Habit Training

"The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days." 
~ Charlotte Mason

Teaching habits such as attentiveness, obedience, neatness, and accuracy, will help children in their personal relationships as well as their school work.  Now, I firmly believe that parents should train their children in the way that is best for their family in their current season of life.  No two families are the same, and Charlotte Mason's way, my way or your own mother's way of teaching/reinforcing a habit may not work for you or your child.  Therefore I will not be covering Habit Training in detail; I will just stress that now is the time to instill positive behavior and habits.  If you do nothing else with your child for preschool but take them outside and teach them good habits, then you will be on the right path.


Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Maccaulay
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levinson

Day 1:  Beginning a Charlotte Mason Preschool
Day 2:  Nature Study for Curious Preschoolers
Day 3:  Introducing Handicrafts To Your Preschooler
Day 4:  Fine Arts for Preschoolers
Day 5:  Living Book Ideas for Preschoolers

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