Narrating is a foundational component of a Charlotte Mason education. It is also one of the more misunderstood components. To fully understand narration as it will be used in this curriculum, it is important to read all of the articles at the blog on this site.
Elements of a Living Book
Not all of the elements below will be found in all living books, although they will often contain several.
Usually written by one author and would not include textbooks which are organized by a committee
Usually a complete work and not an adapted collection of works or excerpts from many works
Subjects are written by a knowledgeable author
A true literary creation meant to inspire, motivate or challenge the imagination or knowledge of the reader
Often impresses some truth of our world or some beauty of our world upon the reader
The author has built their knowledge base from primary resources
Why are they so important?
Living books are valuable because they provide children with the following:
Exposure to the ideas and thoughts of a knowledgeable author
An opening for the imagination to be developed or to be further expanded
Often has advanced vocabulary and sentence structure
Promotes ideas and thoughts on the reader's part
Prompts new questions and a desire to know more on the reader's part
Consistently sends the message that well-written books are a delight and trustworthy source of information
Consistently teaches a child to look for truth and beauty in all books and, in turn, life
The value of the habit of accurate observation is not to be told, nor the unceasing occupation and interest it has given to children. In this way, a child obtains the power of using his own mind, and he learns the value of correct language and description.
-Mrs. Brightwen, Nature Study
Nature Study in this curriculum will include a study of natural history, the act of nature walks and observations, the keeping of a nature notebook and will often overlap with studies in science. Considered one of the quintessential tenets of a Charlotte Mason education, Nature Study capitalizes on many classical education goals as well.
Purposes of Nature Study
reverence for life
connection with nature
builds the skill of attention
attends to the skill of patience
continues work in classification and discrimination
builds a sense of beauty and truth
The role of the teacher or parent should be one of a positive and genuinely enthusiastic model and guide to the student's own natural discoveries and thoughts, with a focus on providing needed background material before encountering new concepts or studies, an eye on the upkeep and structure of the Nature Notebook and one who keeps the study of nature and natural history a regular occurrence.
The artist studies will generally focus on one artist per term, allowing the students to become familiar with each artist's own unique style. This is one area which lends itself well to family style study. Some years will include 4 artists with the idea that one could be included in a summer term, or you may wish to spend 9 weeks on one artist rather than 12 weeks in that particular year.
Composer Studies, like the artist studies, will generally focus on one composer per term, allowing students to become familiar with each composer's own unique style. Careful attention has been paid to which composers are studied in which year to both meet the developmental needs of children in that year and to highlight the history or literature themes for that year's study. A careful focus has been made to include composers of each major era (Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern) along with representatives for opera, ballet and jazz. This area, like Artist Studies, is an area which lends itself well to family studies. Some years will include 4 composers with the idea that one could be included in a summer term, or you may wish to spend 9 weeks on one composer over 12 weeks.
Formal lessons with an instrument are a great way to achieve good music technique and theory, but this is not possible for every family. Singing, Sol-fa, Choir and many other activities provide music technique and theory, giving the student opportunities to learn the language of music and a creative outlet of expression while honing motor skills, refining habits and reinforcing discipline.
Equally important is the student's own instruction in the skills and techniques behind creating art. This further augments a student's practice in important habits such as attention and application. Drawing, painting and sculpting are just some of the variations in art techniques practiced and some suggested resources will be included to achieve this.
Charlotte Mason's Home Education Series
Volume One Archive
Volume Two Google
Volume Three Archive
Volumes 4-6 will need to be purchased separately.
Volume Five Archive-to be borrowed only
Parents' Review Articles, Letters, etc.
Home Education Series by Charlotte Mason 6 volumes
Consider This by Karen Glass
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater
A Brief Sketch of Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was a British educator whose ideas and methods focused on living ideas, the science of relations, habit training and so much more than can be shared in a brief sketch.
She became a teacher and then later established the House of Education, a training school for governesses. While teaching, she realized that the parents of children being educated would benefit from access to basic knowledge about children and education. The Parents' Educational Union or PEU was formed and later a periodical review was created to aid in this effort. In 1892, the word National was added to PEU and became PNEU, or Parents' National Educational Union.
She wrote a series of geography books and then later a six volume set of books setting forth her teaching ideas and methods of education.
Some of the terms and words which are most familiar to us in connection with Charlotte Mason include narration, living books, habit training, focused lessons, copywork, prepared dictation, nature study, handcrafts and artist and composer studies.