Charlotte Mason - Living Books Approach
by: Kerry Beck

Charlotte Mason, in the nineteenth century, developed much of the Living Books approach in response to the direction modern education was moving. She was appalled by the way modern education viewed children as objects (not human beings), modern education chose to break down knowledge into pieces in order to fill the child with those pieces, and modern education developed artificial learning experiences. Miss Mason believed children should be taught good habits, be involved in real-life situations and be given plenty of time to play, reflect & create.
As she developed her approach to education, Miss Mason used the best texts of knowledge and required oral narration to develop attention, concentration, and understanding. Children were given experiences like nature walks, observing/collecting wildlife, visiting art museums and especially, reading real books with "living ideas". "Living books" make a subject come alive, unlike textbooks which tend to be dry and assume the reader can't think for himself. The living books approach encourages a love of learning which should lead to self-education.

Yesterday at Sunday School we were discussing the Word of God as "living and powerful". It reminded me that the Bible is THE LIVING BOOK we should be using with our children. The Bible has living ideas that are always applicable, regardless of our situation or culture. As Hebrews 4:12 says, For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The Bible is the supreme living book! I encourage you to use it as the basis for all your studies. It always has the answer.

A final thought about the Charlotte Mason approach is that it is gentle. I was quite attracted to a "gentle" approach after seeing my children do many, many workbook pages and have "knowledge" pushed upon them. A gentle approach to school can be excellent as children begin their schooling experience or transition away from public or private school.

SOURCES TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LIVING BOOKS:

For the Children's Sake, by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
This book is a definite keeper. Of all the books I read the summer before I started homeschooling, this one had the most impact on me and I decided to read it each summer before I started school again. Susan Schaefer Macaulay, daughter of Francis Schaefer, gives an uplifting view of Charlotte Mason's approach. Education can be "the diet that opens doors for each child to build a relationship with God, other persons, and the universe" according to Mrs. Macaulay.

Educating the Whole Hearted Child, by Clay & Sally Clarkson
Each chapter focuses on a facet of home centered education as the Clarksons provide a guide to using whole books and real life to teach & train children. Great reference for "discipling" your children in the Lord.

Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola
Karen Andreola and her husband run the Charlotte Mason Research Institute and are responsible for many of Miss Mason's ideas being introduced to homeschoolers. Andreola masterfully explains how to adapt Charlotte Mason's ideas to the homeschool.

Original Homeschooling Series
Series of books that explains Charlotte Mason's approach in detail

Charlotte Mason Education
More Charlotte Mason Education
Literary Education

The above 3 books are by Catherine Levison, who conveys Charlotte Mason's ideas in a user-friendly format...offers broad advice about scheduling, selecting materials, teaching methods, and philosophy of education. The first one listed deals more with elementary students, while More Charlotte Mason discusses secondary education from a Charlotte Mason approach. Literary Education is Levison's list of living books.

Charlotte Mason Primer, by Cindy Rushton
Want a great basic book to help you jump right into homeschooling OR into implementing the Charlotte Mason Approach? This is it! Whether you need help learning how to teach the various subjects…you are encountering a rough spot in homeschooling…or you would like to learn how to use the time tested ideas of Charlotte Mason, this book will be one of your favorites.

Books Children Love

Honey for a Child's Heart

The Book Tree

CURRICULUM that can be used with LIVING BOOKS APPROACH (just a sampling)

Cindy Rushton Books.........
Notebooking, You Can Be a Binder Queen
Nature Study the Easy Way
Language Arts the Easy Way

Grammar/Language Arts.........
Language Arts the Easy Way
Simply Grammar
English for Thoughtful Child
Serl's Primary/Intermediate Grammar
Learning Language Arts through Literature

History.........
Beautiful Feet Literature Guides
Greenleaf History
Gift of Music

Nature Studies.........
Pocketful of Pinecones
Handbook of Nature Study
Keeping a Nature Journal
Nature Study the Easy Way
Christian Liberty Nature Readers
Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady

Making Math Meaningful - gentle approach to math

Greathall Storytelling Tapes (Jim Weiss)

Classical Kids Cassettes

...and ALL the good books you and your child will read

LIVING BOOKS/CHARLOTTE MASON WEBSITES:

Rushton Ministries http://www.cindyrushton.com/
    Encouragement for ALL homeschool MOMS
Twaddle free literature http://members.aol.com/BeeME1/bookstore.html
Literature supplements http://www.redshift.com/~bonajo/history.htm
Karen Andreola's site http://www.charlottemason.com/
Curriculum Guide http://amblesideonline.homestead.com/
CM Study Loop http://www.angelfire.com/journal/CharlotteMason/
about Charlotte Mason herself http://fp.armitt.plus.com/charlotte_mason.htm
Living Science Books http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Hollow/4329/CM_LivingScienceBooksPage2.html
Narration Tips http://home.att.net/~bandcparker/narration.html
Nature http://members.truepath.com/Jody/nature.htm
 

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