Charlotte Mason was an educator in England during the nineteenth century, and her methods are currently experiencing a rebirth among American home schools. “Twaddle” and “living books” are terms coined by Mason. Download 8 x 10 printable Mason quotes at the bottom of this page.
Tweaking Charlotte Mason Methods
Robin Sampson, homeschool mother for 29 years and author of The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach : Bible Based Homeschooling tweaked the Charlotte Mason Approach after she studied learning styles and the 4Mat System by Bernice McCarthy implementing Four-Step Lessons. It’s a creative way to organize and utilize Charlotte Mason’s unique methods.
- Excite: Motivate the Child making the lesson applicable to his life (not dumbed down).
- Examine: Find out the Facts – study the topic from real living books or nature walks (no twaddle)
- Expand: Do something with what was learned – Copywork, dictation, Book of the Centuries timeline, etc.
- Excel: Narration – tell back what you have learned by sharing with others.
More About 4Mat
“Twaddle” refers to dumbed-down literature; material with an absence of meaning. “Living books” refers to books that are well written and engaging—they absorb the reader—the narrative and characters seem to come alive. Living books are the antithesis of cold, dry textbooks.
Charlotte Mason believed children should be educated through a wide curriculum using a variety of real, living books. Her concern was for students to develop a lifetime love of learning. She based her philosophy on the Latin word for education, educare, which means “to feed and nourish.” This method focuses on the formation of good study habits, reading a variety of books, narration, copywork, dictation, keeping a nature diary, keeping a spelling notebook, and preparing a timeline book.
Timeline Book Sample Pages
Narration is literally telling back what has been learned. Students are instructed to read a passage from the Bible, text from a suggested resource, or content from a web site and then tell what they have learned, either orally or in writing. This is a perfect activity, and one which you will find frequently in the third step of the 4Mat System. This process involves sorting, sequencing, selecting, connecting, rejecting, and classifying information. Miss Mason found that if you use narration consistently, review is unnecessary. Narration increases the mind’s ability to remember.
Copywork and Dictation
Copywork and dictation are underrated. Both provide ongoing practice for handwriting, spelling, grammar, etc. Both are good exercises for teaching accuracy and attention to detail, and students discover things about the text they are copying that they would be unlikely to notice otherwise. In dictation, the child writes as the parent reads. Students learn correct spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and other language mechanics when they compare their work to the original and correct their mistakes. Timeline Book Charlotte Mason recommended preparing a handmade Book of the Centuries or timeline book. Below is a sample timeline page. Click to see more samples.
“Upon the knowledge of these great matters—History, Literature, Nature, Science, Art—the mind feeds and grows. It assimilates such knowledge as the body assimilates food, and the person becomes what is called magnanimous, that is, a person of great mind, wide interests, incapable of occupying himself much about petty, personal matters. What a pity to lose sight of such a possibility for the sake of miserable scraps of information about persons and things that have little connection with one another and little connection with ourselves!” —Charlotte Mason (Vol. 4, p. 78 — The Original Homeschooling Series)
Free Printables: Charlotte Mason Quotes
Click on the image to download 8×10 printable you can frame and hang.