3 Free (and Easy) Ways to Try Out Charlotte Mason Schooling
Are you considering switching to a Charlotte Mason-style school, but not sure if it’s a good fit? Well, spring is the perfect time to address those restless days your kids are feeling by trying out the CM method. Fortunately, you’ve got some easy short-term options that are completely (risk) free!
Charlotte Mason curriculum websites have an almost innumerable number of pages and opportunities to distract. They can be overwhelming, particularly if Charlotte Mason is new to you. So I’ve narrowed your search down to three, so you can see why the Charlotte Mason method is called “the gentle art of learning.”
Let’s get started …
If you are completely new to Charlotte Mason, I recommend this lovely description of the methods and philosophies from Sonya Shafer at Simply Charlotte Mason. It will help explain some of the terms used in CM education, and how it is significantly different than typical institutional schooling (and better, if we say so ourselves). If you have preschoolers, and are just learning about CM, start with this post at A Humble Place. Rebecca offers a free booklist for kindergarten (called Year 0.5 by Charlotte Mason educators who use the old British school year designations), as well as an explanation of how Charlotte Mason education works in the day-to-day for young students. Following the guide on her post alone will give your a great introduction to using Charlotte Mason in your home or school classroom.
When you are ready for full lesson plans and resource lists, consider one of these three sites:
- Ambleside Online is one of the most popular Charlotte Mason sites online. Everything is free, but if you are just trying out Charlotte Mason, you’ll want to look at the Emergency Plan. It was created for families in emergency situations where some sort of school schedule will help bring structure to the days of children in temporary crisis. But it’s also perfect for a short-term foray into Charlotte Mason methods. The Emergency Plan assumes you have access to the internet to take advantage of the free online books used in the plan. (If you prefer hard copy books, most of them will be available at your local library or through interlibrary loan.) All subjects, including those unique to CM education (such as picture study) are included. Ambleside Online also includes many helpful articles to support your dip into Charlotte Mason methods and philosophy.
- The Charlotte Mason Way offers a free downloadable lesson plan bundle of more than 100 pages covering history, literature, nature study, grammar, historical math, copywork and more. Website publisher and veteran CM educator Dolly Freeman also offers a free assessment to see if your educational philosophy would match well with Charlotte Mason.
- Simply Charlotte Mason publishes a full curriculum for students of all ages, but also offers 17 free resources, including several to assist you in learning about the Charlotte Mason method. Some of the methods that make Charlotte Mason education unique are explained in free e-books, such as Five Steps to Successful Narration, Masterly Inactivity and The Way of the Will. You could also begin with Getting Started in Homeschooling.
Other curriculum publishers have free resources available, but you should be able to get plenty of ideas and guidelines from these three sources. The most important thing to remember with Charlotte Mason teaching is that — unlike the dullness of a crowded classroom and boring textbooks — you are spreading before your child a “joyful feast” of knowledge. It’s a wonderful contrast, so enjoy your time trying out CM.
For more on the many Charlotte Mason resources, check out the Curricula and Guides page at Everything Charlotte Mason.