Sunday, June 16, 2013

Charlotte Mason Method: Adding Rhythm and Routine

I have heard it said that it's not possible to "unschool" the Charlotte Mason method. How they're two completely different educational philosophies. One is inherently structured and the other...well, inherently not so much.  Polar opposites.  

Well, I would politely beg to differ. :)

We have been combining the two quite successfully for over 8 years now - longer, if you count the time I had no "label" for what we already naturally did.  I have found that for us, there are a great many aspects of the Charlotte Mason method that are a good fit for our family. These ideas, activities and experiences help to add rhythm and routine to our days, weeks and months. 

Taking the relaxed, interest-led approach that we do, my focus is on my children - so what doesn't work for them, we simply don't do.  (Of course, I do need a little reminder of this from time to time.) But what the Charlotte Mason method offers up to me as an unschooling mother is continued inspiration and encouragement.

Inspiration to strive to create a learning atmosphere and a home environment full of ideas and experiences that feed the minds and the souls of my children. Encouragement that providing a real, living education is far more than is abundant. 

The Charlotte Mason method also helps balance us out. 

My children are loud. They are goofy. We love tv, movies, video games, ipods, laptops and all other "screens". My three children are also passionate about playing competitive sports...all. year. round.  During certain seasons of the year, our family spends an incredible amount of time in the van running from one afternoon/evening activity to the next.  

Which brings me back to dear Charlotte Mason and the idea of balance. 

Nature study. Tea time and yummy snacks. Journaling and lots of wonderful discussions and debates. Whole and living books. Coming together for family read aloud times. Providing a wide and generous education. Emphasizing deep connections to ideas, people and things. Handicrafts, art, music, museums, real, hands-on experiences, and living, breathing history. 

Ah. There's the balance. 

Small bits, in certain seasons, during certain phases, with a lovely atmosphere, and led by interest, purpose and need. 

It may not make us "structured" by any means. But it most certainly gives our cozily cluttered and slightly chaotic lives a little rhythm and routine. And that I find, suits us perfectly. 

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