Several years ago, before my children were of school age, a friend who happened to be an experienced homeschooling Mom lent me the the book Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola. At the time, my son was in a preschool program, and I think my friend saw my growing struggle with the idea of sending him to public school.
As I began reading the book, a whole new world started to open for me. The first chapter outlines the core concepts of a Charlotte Mason education, and as I read through it, an excitement began to unfold. A light began to dawn in the back of my very closed mind. No homework? Short lessons? Free afternoons? Children, motivated by a love of learning, gaining the ability to educate themselves? Was this for real? I’d never heard of such things! For the first time in my life, I began to reconsider (or should I say, consider!) my children’s education. Maybe education wasn’t just about getting the kids out the door in the morning, turning them over to their teachers. Could it possibly be something to be experienced joyfully together, as a family? Could school actually be enjoyed?
I quickly returned the book to my friend and bought my own. I was going to need to spend some quality time with this book and a highlighter.
A Practical Guide to a Charlotte Mason Education
The Charlotte Mason Companion is a practical guide to a Charlotte Mason education. The author has clearly studied Ms. Mason’s philosophies and ideals in depth and has used them in her own life and homeschool, giving her a wealth of experience to share. Since adopting this philosophy of education in our own home, I have found that it can be challenging at times and was grateful for the practical ideas and guidance.
The author begins by examining Charlotte Mason’s founding philosophies of education – education is the science of relations, that self-education is the only education, that children’s minds are fed by ideas. etc. Each of these principles ring true in theory and in practice. What really caught my attention, though, was the attention that the author gave to the atmosphere in the home. She discusses how education is a discipline. It must be supported with proper habits, instilled by consistent, gentle, and loving parenting. A child’s education is intrinsically connected to their environment, and here, as well, the author provides a practical guide. Lord knows I need all the help I can get in this department!
Since reading Charlotte Mason Companion, I have read many other educational philosophy books, each outlining a different method. None have rung so true in my heart and soul as the Charlotte Mason method. This is a book I have read and reread, as a reminder of my own homeschool ideals, and also as a practical guide. If you need a little encouragement in your homeschool journey, or maybe some inspiration, Karen Andreola’s warm and gentle approach will give you a generous helping of each in Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning.