Many moms have asked us, “What should I be doing with my 3- to 5-year-old children, before they start formal schooling?” Instead of academic or social pressures, Charlotte Mason encouraged mothers to give their little ones a full six years of developing good habits, getting acquainted with nature, exploring with the five senses, growing in their spiritual lives, and playing outdoors. With that in mind, here are our suggestions for the Early Years.
You will find Charlotte Mason’s own words and practical encouragement for all of these areas in The Early Years: A Charlotte Mason Preschool Handbook. This blog series on the Early Years might also be helpful.
1. Focus on the foundations.
Habits, outside play, read-alouds, and Bible are most important. If you concentrate only on those, you’ll be doing just fine.
2. Include enrichment and beauty.
Handicrafts, art, music, and poetry will enrich your child’s atmosphere and help him feel at home with those aspects of Charlotte Mason education when he starts “school work.”
3. Gently introduce academics as the child is ready.
Reading, writing, and math may be added through informal activities as the child is ready. (Some may not be ready until they are older than five; that’s okay!)
Note: Keep in mind that if you are homeschooling your older children in a Charlotte Mason way, your little ones may listen in and learn along with them in many of these areas. For example, they may hear the Bible stories you read aloud and the Scripture verses you’re memorizing, they will see the artist’s pictures you’re studying, and more.