Since we started home educating Blossom two and a half years ago, six families have been in contact with me directly to discuss the possibility of home educating their little one(s) at home on this island, not to mention the countless others I have spoken with online via a Facebook group for home educators in Guernsey.
They usually start by asking me what do we do and are then very eager to know what we use to do it.
This line of thought often has people bogged down in the “how to” of home educating, most often before they have even given much thought as to the “why” of home educating.
I personally feel it’s important to understand why you want to home educate your kids before you start planning how to home educate them and unfortunately, I’m often not much help when it comes to the “how to” of home educating, especially not when someone is after a curriculum suggestion, as we do not follow the national curriculum nor a box set of curriculum.
What I do follow however, is an educational philosophy.
Now if a curriculum is the “how to” of an education then an educational philosophy is the “why”. It’s the guiding principle that keeps the big picture in mind and the reference point for all learning.
This is why when prospective home educators are seeking advice on how to home educate their kids I like to encourage them to first take some time to think about why they want to home educate their kids. I find researching the various educational philosophies can really help with this, enabling you to identify the educational values and methods that aren’t always used in schools, but are important to you.
Now there are many educational philosophies out there and not everyone that home educates chooses to follow one and many even glean ideas from a few. Waldorf Steiner, Montessori, Classical, Charlotte Mason and Un-schooling seem to be the most popular ones, but there are others and I’m not going to go into the details of all of these here as I do not follow them all.
Instead today I would just like to introduce you to Charlotte Mason, the creator of the one educational philosophy that I do follow.
Now Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. As a child she was mostly educated at home by her parents and then as an adult went on to become a teacher, lecturer and educator who authored many books on the topic of educational theory. She also co-founded an organisation, the Parents Educational Union later renamed the Parents National Education Union, or the PNEU for short which offered support and resources to parents who were educating their children at home.
As her theory of education became popular the first school based on her principles was opened in 1890 and there are still a few PNEU private schools operating in the UK today, not to mention thousands of home educators worldwide choosing to educate their children the Charlotte Mason way.
Now I won’t go into all the principles of a Charlotte Mason education here nor will I share in detail about all of her wonderful methods, which appeal to so many. I will save that for a later post as this one is already getting rather long. Today I just wanted to briefly introduce you to Charlotte, to put her on your radar and then in my later home ed posts I can unpack the philosophy a little more.
Personally I have found following an educational philosophy, particularly the Charlotte Mason philosophy to be very grounding and affirming in my journey as a home educator. It’s enabled me to better understand my educational values, to keep focused on what I’m trying to achieve in our homeschool and it gives me greater freedom when making decisions as I have some guiding principles to come back to.
So in conclusion today I would just like to briefly sum up, in my own words what the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education looks like. I’m sure that other home educators would explain it very differently, as different aspects of the philosophy may appeal to them more, but for those who are unsure of some of the traits of a Charlotte Mason education then these are the elements that drew me to the philosophy.
Here we go:
“The Charlotte Mason philosophy of education is also known as the gentle art of learning. It provides an education rich in the liberal arts offering a wide variety of subjects that educate the whole child, not just his mind. There is a focus on forming good habits, gaining life skills, spending time outdoors and using quality children’s literature, with short formal lessons being delayed until a child is around 6 years old.”
So in my next Charlotte Mason post I’ll share more about how we implement the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool, mentioning some of the main methods she used that have now become some of the key characteristics of a Charlotte Mason homeschool education.