There are books and entire series of books written on the Charlotte Mason homeschool and Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. In this overview, I will help you learn about the lovely components that make up a Charlotte Mason education – with a special focus on the beauty of art.
If you are not sure who or what Charlotte Mason is, you are in good company. Although I have a master’s degree in school administration and had spent almost ten years in public education, I did not know who Charlotte Mason was until after I started homeschooling.
Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late 1800s. Her style was quite visionary and she dedicated herself to improving education. The phrase that is most often associated with Ms. Mason is:
“Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”– Charlotte Mason
What Is Charlotte Mason Homeschooling?
The main components of Charlotte Mason’s homeschool philosophy include:
- Living books (Narrative style books that engage the reader in learning.)
- Nature study (Learning science though the study of the nature around us.)
- Narration (Simply put, having students tell you what they learned.)
- Short Lessons (Under 20 minutes for younger students, up to about 30-45 for high school students)
- Art and Music (Both appreciation and expression)
- Lots of good resources (quality books, music, artwork, and experiences)
- Handicrafts (Projects that develop life skills and habits. Sewing, art, woodworking, etc.)
- Time Outside (Children need lots of time ‘out of doors’ for learning and play.)
Why A Charlotte Mason Approach To Homeschooling Works For Our Family
I like to say that our family is Charlotte Mason eclectic. For us, that means that I follow a lot of the Charlotte Mason philosophy but only what works for our family. We adapt to meet the needs of each child in each season.
I was first drawn to the Charlotte Mason philosophy because of the idea of using ‘living books’ not ‘twaddle’. We love reading wonderful and rich books, including all of the wonderful animal tales from Beatrix Potter.
Next, I realized early on that having time outside was good for my children (and myself). It took longer to realize how much my children were learning through nature study and exploring our own backyard.
When I first started looking at handicrafts I had a very narrow idea in my mind. As we have progressed in our schooling, I realize that our handicrafts are all of the hobbies my children are free to explore.
By keeping our school day shorter they have more time for their hobbies: photography, weaving, gardening, animals (sheep, chickens, ducks, and goats), and even Legos. Children learn and grow so much through the freedom to explore.
Finally, giving children access to a wealth of good materials to help them learn and grow. By following the principles of Charlotte Mason, my children are exposed to so many wonderful resources.
They study beautiful hymns, lovely works of art, and brilliant classical music. They learn from exceptional authors such as Shakespeare, Tolkien, Dickinson, and Lewis. We love that we can give them such a wonderful buffet of experiences to grow and shape their minds.
Homeschool Art Lessons
In a Charlotte Mason homeschool, there are two major components to art education: art appreciation and art expression.
Art Appreciation is helping children know and love great art and artists. Students get exposure to a variety of different types of art and the works of many great artists. Picture study is a frequent component of a Charlotte Mason-style education.
Art Expression is the opportunity for the student to be creative and express themselves through art. Afternoon handicrafts time can be a great place to fit this in your schedule.
Art Lessons For Our Charlotte Mason Homeschool Family
Though Nana would disagree (because You Are An Artist), I do not consider myself an artist. I really need the assistance of art lessons to help me include art in our homeschool.
We love using the You Are An Artist Lessons because they tie in so well with the Charlotte Mason philosophy. Instead of being an entirely separate subject, I can use the lessons to supplement history, hymn study, or nature study.
Homeschool History Lessons with You ARE an Artist Clubhouse
This year we are really excited to be studying the medieval era in our history curriculum and incorporating lots of the Medieval History and Knights and Crusaders art lessons. We are so excited to be painting castles, shields, knights, and even illuminated letters (which I think is going to be a big hit with my teenage daughter).
Then we even get to incorporate literature into art and history with a Robin Hood art lesson in the Knights and Crusaders course!
Homeschool Nature Lessons with You ARE an Artist Clubhouse
Our family loves nature study and getting outside to learn more about the world around us. We have nature journals in the style of a Charlotte Mason homeschool but drawing the plants and animals that they saw was really intimidating to my children.
I want to help my son draw the hummingbirds that come to his feeder each day. So, the next homeschool art lesson we are using is the hummingbird lesson. Nana’s section of Backyard Nature art lessons in the Artist Clubhouse has wonderful insect and plant lessons, like a dandelion and an ant.
Nana’s bird lessons and the many insect lessons are a great way to help them draw what they have seen. Lessons also give them confidence and practice to draw what they see on future nature walks. By drawing a couple of beautiful chalk pastel birds, they get a feel for how to draw the body of a bird and make them more realistic. (The chalk pastel pencils making taking chalk pastels on your nature walk much easier.)
My children can translate those skills to drawing other types of birds as they see them on their walks. Our absolute favorite bird art lesson is the bird in snow lesson in the Winter Clubhouse Course. It is simply beautiful and even makes a great gift.
Art Appreciation for the Homeschool Family
With our You ARE an Artist Clubhouse membership, I can also use the famous artists homeschool lesssons to help me cover both art appreciation and art expression. Nana has paired a short biography with a painting that represents each artist’s style. This allows my children to learn about the artist and then try their own hand at that style. It makes it so much easier for them to remember.
One of my favorites is the beautiful flower by Georgia O’Keefe, but I think my son would love the painting by Roy Litchenstein. The comic books feel is so exciting. You can tie artist lessons into your history studies with lessons about Michelangelo and other artists from various points in history.
If you love the Beatrix Potter books, you don’t want to miss the biography and lesson all about her. The painting of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck is so adorable; I might just have to try it myself.
With so many options we could do art every day and you may be wondering how we fit it all in. In reality, we have found that it works best for us to schedule an art lesson about once a week. Rotating through different art topics depending on what we are studying that week.
We feel it is important to incorporate art into our Charlotte Mason homeschool. Nana makes it easy and not overwhelming.
An Awesome Homeschool Resource Bundle!
Stocking up for homeschooling is a labor of love! ChalkPastel.com wants to help you grow your homeschool resources. So we’ve put picked out this beautiful bundle of Charlotte Mason education-inspired books and materials. All of these resources would be wonderful in a Charlotte Mason homeschool or any homeschool!
- A set Chalk Pastel pencils for your kids to enjoy!
- A mixed media nature journal
- Birds, Nests and Eggs Take Along Guide book
- Four Beatrix Potter books
- Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola
- The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
- A Time to Keep by Tasha Tudor
Dawn is a passionate follower of Jesus, wife to Chris, and homeschool mom of four. In her spare time she loves to read, hike, and write on her blog Schoolin’ Swag. She enjoys reviewing curriculum and helping moms find the right fit for their family.