Charlotte Mason Methods and Non-traditional Learning
How Do Your Children Learn Best?
Last time we discussed Nature study as perhaps the most obvious of Charlotte Mason’s suggested activities that utilizes many senses, hence appealing more to non-traditional learners. Of course, we are talking about being outside and actually observing nature first hand, rather than studying nature from books alone. If you missed it, read that post here. Thankfully, Charlotte Mason’s educational methods dovetail with non-traditional learning in many other ways as well!
Train up a Child in the Way HE Should Go…
Many of the public school classrooms that most of us languished in only allowed for the traditional (auditory-sequential) learner to use her gifts. Hear a lecture, read a book, and then write a report on it. Ho hum.
But if you have homeschooled for a while, you have probably noticed that all of your students do not learn in the same ways and they are not motivated by the same type of assignments. (Is that an understatement, or what?) As we have mentioned before, as they become older, children begin to exhibit preferences for the way they like to learn. Some like learning things out loud, perhaps to music, or maybe they like to discuss ideas orally. There are others who need to read to learn, and are totally distracted by little brother’s humming and toe-tapping. Some think and remember best if information is presented in picture, chart or graph formats. Still others need to move around to maximize their learning.
Pay attention to these details and study your children in order to give them the opportunity to let them do their best work. Give them that opportunity by letting them use as many of their senses as possible, especially until you have identified which one they use the most. Then maximize it by incorporating it into their assignments regularly. They will be more engaged and cooperative when assigned work they enjoy and feel good about their ability to do!
Students Benefit by Hands on Learning
Activities that are hands on in nature generally benefit ALL types of learners, but especially those who are more ‘right-brained,’ which includes many non-traditional learners. So by giving your students the opportunity to do more hands on activities, you are maximizing all of your kids’ abilities to learn, but you are especially giving your non-traditional learners the chance to shine. So continue to use those ‘living books’ in your schooling and have your students orally narrate. But in addition, make sure students are not just reading and hearing; they also need to be seeing and doing.
- Have your students work on a project such as hooking a rug or dipping candles while you are reading to them about colonial times.
- Incorporate field trips into your school as often as possible – don’t just read about a farm, go visit one! Let your students produce a photo essay of the trip instead of a written report.
- Let your children draw pictures while you are reading to them. Let your student narrate afterward, using his pictures.
- Create mini-books/lapbooks, Power-point presentations, or create video “TV commercials” instead of writing traditional reports.
- Create African costumes and cook authentic African food while reading about Africa.
- Research and plan to have an evening of Olympic Games while reading about Ancient Greece.
Other Narration Ideas
As you know, one of those foundational beliefs of Ms. Mason’s was that information was not truly absorbed until it was reproduced in some way, usually through verbal narration. But there are many ways to reproduce information. I would not slight that method, however; especially if your children are younger and just starting out to ‘tell back’ that which they have read or have had read to them. But as children become older, it is especially helpful for the non-traditional learner to be able to narrate in her own way, using her own natural bents.
- Let your very visual child actually take ‘notes’ in pictures while you are reading or teaching him.
- Allow more ‘hands on’ narration, in addition to the above suggestion, such as producing a dramatization, painting a picture, or creating a poem to ‘narrate’ what has been read.
Picture and Music Study
By their very nature, Picture and Music study appeal to the senses and should not be neglected. Some children are reached by art and/or music in a way that can’t be touched by reading. Read about picture study here. Books about period music and artists, as well as CD suggestions are included in every unit of our complete programs.
I’m so thankful that our kids have the opportunity to be taught the way that best suits them, rather than the way that best suits the school system! If you have non-traditional learners at home, I would love to hear how YOU have incorporated Charlotte Mason’s methodology into your homeschool! Please consider leaving a comment below.