1. Forgetting that the child is a person.
One of Charlotte Mason’s chief principles is “The child is a person with all the possibilities and powers included in personality” (Vol. 1, p. 4). Each child is unique. Become a student of your child and work with him or her as an individual.
2. Letting fear drive your decisions.
It’s easy to get caught up in the expectations of others — What will my relatives think? How will my child do on standardized tests? But if you can concentrate on cultivating each child’s love for learning as an individual person specially-designed by God, you won’t be intimidated quite so much by man-made comparisons.
3. Interrupting narrations.
Isn’t it annoying to lose your train of thought when someone interrupts you? It is for your child too. Charlotte reminded us that “the teacher does not talk much and is careful never to interrupt a child who is called upon to ‘tell’ ” (Vol. 6, p. 172). Instead, feel free to list key words for the child to refer to when narrating, and encourage additions or elaborations at the end.
4. Treating nature study like an outdoor class time.
Nature walks should be unstructured, child-led opportunities for discovery. They lay the foundation for future formal science lessons. Charlotte bemoaned, “We are awaking to the use of nature-knowledge, but how we spoil things by teaching them!” (Vol. 5, p. 396).
5. Focusing on academics and neglecting habits.
Academics is only one-third of a Charlotte Mason education. Education is an atmosphere, a discipline (of habits), and a life (living ideas). “The discipline of habit is at least a third part of the great whole which we call education” (Vol. 3, p. 99). Habit training is vital “school work”!
6. Teaching dry facts (like you were probably taught).
Remember that education is a life and should be expressed through great ideas and living books. “Our business is to give children the great ideas of life, of religion, history, science; but it is the ideas we must give, clothed upon with facts as they occur, and must leave the child to deal with these as he chooses” (Vol. 6, p. 40).
7. Standing between the child and the great idea.
Resist the temptation to lecture or spoon-feed regurgitated facts. In a Charlotte Mason education “the much-diluted, or over-condensed, teaching of the oral lesson, or the lecture, gives place to the well thought out, consecutive treatment of the right book, a living book in which facts are presented as the outcome of ideas” (Vol. 3, Preface).
8. Getting stuck in a rut.
Once we find a schedule that works well, it’s easy to do the same subjects at the same times on the same days year after year. Break out of the rut; add some variety! Try to create a new schedule every Term. Here are some ideas to get you started.
9. Accepting slip-shod work.
Remember, there’s a difference between work done poorly because of haste and work done poorly because of confusion. “No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course” (Vol. 1, p. 160). Don’t confuse a gentle approach with being a “push-over.”
10. Making it too hard.
It’s not uncommon to hear a new CMer say, “It couldn’t be this easy” or “It can’t be this enjoyable.” Well, yes, it can. Charlotte explained, “We are able to get through a greater variety of subjects, and through more work in each subject, in a shorter time than is usually allowed, because children taught in this way get the habit of close attention and are carried on by steady interest” (Vol. 3, p. 240). So enjoy!
We hope these little reminders will be helpful and encourage you to “finish strong” this school year. (We know Doug’s post on how we keep your records safe in the CM Organizer was scheduled first, but we couldn’t resist slipping this one in ahead of it!) Have we helped you? Are there some mistakes we’ve missed? Let us know.