As mothers we know that children grow best on generous portions. Meagre meals can stunt a child’s physical growth, but a generous diet of food gives that growing body lots of nutrients to draw from. It’s the same emotionally; child need a generous supply of pure love to grow secure and happy and loving, themselves.
And the same holds true for a child’s mental growth. A generous supply of ideas is needed. Charlotte Mason knew that.
“The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum” (Vol. 6, p. 111).
A Wide Range of Subjects
Charlotte did not believe in only preparing children to hold down a job one day. She believed in feeding the children’s minds and shaping their characters, as well as equipping them with skills.
So you won’t find a skimpy curriculum that focuses on the three R’s. Instead you will find a wide and generous curriculum that attempts to spread a feast of ideas before the children.
“Give children a wide range of subjects” (Vol. 3, p. 162).
In a Charlotte Mason-style home school the children are given a wide variety of subjects so they will have plenty of mind-food to grow on.
- Foreign Language
- Beginning reading
We will walk through each of those subjects in the weeks ahead and explain how to teach them in the Charlotte Mason way. Most of them you will be able to teach with all your family together.
Now, the challenge of a generous curriculum is in trying not to swing to either extreme when you look at that list of subjects. One extreme is a tendency to panic and think, “There is no way we can cover all of those subjects every day!”
The answer to that extreme is to keep in mind that Charlotte did not do every subject every day. She kept variety in the schedule. Those subjects were all presented some time during the weeks of the term, but not every one every day.
The other extreme is the mind-set, “That’s a nice list, but I don’t really want to mess with some of those subjects; they look a bit inconvenient. Besides, I have my children for only a few years, so I’m going to focus on just the required stuff.”
Charlotte would encourage you to consider a wide variety of subjects as a necessity.
“In the nature of things then the unspoken demand of children is for a wide and very varied curriculum; it is necessary that they should have some knowledge of the wide range of interests proper to them as human beings, and for no reasons of convenience or time limitations may we curtail their proper curriculum” (Vol. 6, p. 14).
Sure, you might want to ease into it. There’s nothing wrong with getting some subjects up and running and then adding in the others little by little. But always keep that ideal goal in mind: a generous curriculum with a wide range of subjects.
Generous portions encourage generous growth.
New SCM Audio Blog
We are happy to announce that, starting with this post, our blog will also be available in audio format. You will find an audio player at the bottom of each weekly post that you can use to listen to a reading of that post. Or visit the iTunes store for a free subscription to this new SCM Audio Blog that will be automatically delivered as a podcast every week.
We hope you will find the new audio blog great for listening on the go or sharing with friends. Let us know what you think!