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Do Charlotte Mason Methods Work with Non-traditional Learners?

  |   Charlotte Mason Mondays, Hands on Activities, Language Arts, Lesson Plan, Teaching - all grades, Teaching Elementary School, Teaching High School, Teaching Middle School, Teaching Science   |   No comment

Recent question: Can I homeschool my [non-traditional learners] Charlotte Mason style?

Answer: Of course!

As we discuss in our parent manual, parents teach and children learn in a variety of ways.  Some prefer to absorb information by what they see, for example, reading a book, watching a movie or viewing a live demonstration.  Some learn best by what they hear, such as when listening to a lecture, verbal instructions or an audio book. Some prefer to learn through what they do, or retain more by moving around as they are taking in information through another venue.  For example, making candles instead of reading about how they are made, or doing jumping jacks while practicing multiplication tables.   Most people utilize all of these learning methods to some degree, but  prefer one over the others.

Traditional school seems to be notoriously crafted to benefit the type of learners who like to sit still, learn things in a logical progression, and read about rather than experience what they are learning about, to the detriment of the others who don’t fit that mold! What a blessing it is that we are able to craft our learning opportunities to fit our children’s natural bents!

Charlotte Mason understood children. Many of her teaching methods and principles already incorporate a variety of learning methods.

Nature Study

Advocating as much time outside as possible, Ms. Mason suggested children experience nature first hand.

Children should be encouraged to watch, patiently and quietly, until they learn something of the habits and history of the bee, ant, wasp, spider, hairy caterpillar, dragon-fly, and whatever of larger growth comes in their way.

Rather than spending up to six hours outside every suitably-weathered day as Ms. Mason suggested, many homeschoolers satisfy their outdoor longings by taking at least one nature ‘walk’ per week, identifying and recording the different trees, flowers, insects and birds that come across their path.  (Some of our favorite books to use for these activities are below.)

Observing nature incorporates all the senses:  watching a bumblebee extract nectar from a flower while listening to its low buzz…feeling the gentle wind flow through your hair while listening to the leaves rustle…feeling the rough outer layer of a seashell and the smooth-as-glass inside, then holding it to your ear and listening to the ‘ocean’…

We help our children hone their powers of observation as they study their subjects, write about them and make detailed drawings in their nature notebooks, all while using visual, auditory and kinesthetic modes of learning.

Next week we will talk about other aspects of Charlotte Mason’s methods of learning in conjunction with learning styles.

Have a great week!


P.S.  These are some of our favorite books for aiding our nature studies. Check them out!
Handbook of Nature Study
Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America (Peterson Field Guide Series)
Peterson Field Guides; Rocks and Minerals
Peterson Field Guides; Wildflowers
Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of N.A.

P.P.S.  Read about one way to incorporate hands on (also known as tactile or kinesthetic) learning in this post called, Make a Lapbook!

No Comments
  • Dana | Feb 14, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Hi Robin!
    I am glad you found our blog helpful to you! Have you found a homeschooling support group in Germany yet? I have a friend homeschooling in Stutgart (an American there)who belongs to a group if you happen to be in that area.

    Please visit again soon!

    May God continue to bless your homeschool!

  • Robin | Feb 14, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Hi Dana,

    I cannot tell you how excited I am to find your blog. I made a conscious commitment to try homeschooling once we moved to Germany with my husband who is in the Navy. Within 2 weeks, GOD has been faithful to bring me here. Thank you for the encouragement that I am sure you are giving many others as well.

    Sincerly, Robin

  • Epi Kardia » Blog Archive » Charlotte Mason Methods and Non-traditional Learning | Feb 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    […] 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 […]

  • Dana | Jan 19, 2010 at 8:14 am

    No, I haven’t, but it sounds fascinating. Thanks for the recommendation, Jimmie!

  • Jimmie | Jan 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Have you read Last Child in the Woods? It’s an amazing defense of why children need time in nature. It’s been linked to greater resilience and creativity.

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