Charlotte Mason Book Study

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  • racheleacosta

    Hi all! I’m new here and relatively new to CM in general. I’m in my second year of homeschooling my oldest. Our first year we applied CM principles here and there, and this year we have tried to stick as close as possible to what a CM schedule would/should look like. Of course I’m  learning new things all the time and adjusting accordingly.

    I am a part of an ecumenical Christian Community that has been successfully running its own school for over thirty years now. So when I decided to homeschool some friends did not understand my reasoning, but have come to accept my decision and even ask with genuine interest how things are going. So, in an effort to bring to light what Charlotte Mason is about, my love for her philosophy, and why I believe it is the absolute best path of education for my children, I have invited many young mothers in my Community to join me in reading Home Education, Volume One of Mason’s works. We’ve had two meetings so far and are going at a pretty gradual pace with meetings every six weeks so no one feels overwhelmed by this commitment.

    My question for you all is this, what should these meetings look like? So far we’ve just been having a light snack and then going section by section of the chunk we’ve read and whatever sparks conversation we just go with. I’m wondering if I should just have topics already queued, or questions to spark discussion, or if I should inquire about any experiences anyone has had in which a mother was able to use what she’s read, etc. Basically, what would your meeting look like?

    Thank you!


    Sonya Shafer

    Hi, Rachel –

    Hooray for starting your own group! Your meetings can be a reflection of you and your group’s personality and needs at each season of life as you journey together. There’s no one right way to facilitate meetings, but I know it can be helpful to glean ideas from others. So I asked Laura, the leader of the CM group that I go to, to share some of her thoughts to pass along to you. Here are some ideas from both a leader’s and an attendee’s point of view with our group.

    • You are off to a great start! It’s good to set a certain amount of pages as homework to read before coming to the meeting. (We usually assign about 20 pages for our group for each month’s meeting.) That way you keep moving forward in the book.  It also encourages attendees to be prepared to contribute to the discussion. We do not make the reading assignment a requirement but simply encourage all who can to do it. Life is crazy and sometimes getting to the meeting is hard enough!
    • Laura usually leads the discussion/study by giving her own narration of each section covered. Sometimes you can move through this quickly, other times the material is rather “heavy.” So the pace during the meetings may vary.
    • It really helps to have some questions ready to ask as you are going through your narrations. This will help draw others into the discussion as well as keep you moving and on topic. Questions like, “How can we apply this in our home?” or “What would this look like for you?” As the leader, Laura has found that a key to this is to be willing to share from your heart. Openness coming from you (even if it is about a struggle or something you consider to be a fault) will set the example for everyone. Your transparency will demonstrate a teachable spirit and show that all of us are always learning.
    • Our discussion/study time is slotted for an hour, then we take a break (coffee, snacks, bathroom, etc.) before moving on to a Q & A time or finishing up the discussion portion.
    • It is great to have some Q & A time, whether focused on the passage for the meeting or sometimes open-ended. Another popular event with our group is to ask people to bring and share their favorite CM resources pertaining to the topic at hand. Again, set the tone and let grace abound as you all learn together.  Q & A often leads into the practical application of the methods, so having a quick reference type book on hand might be helpful since you are still learning. A Charlotte Mason Education would be a good one to keep close by.
    • It is important to value the attendees’ time and be committed to dismissing them at the agreed time. One thing that we have discovered really helps is to give a formal “closing” announcement. That way whoever needs to leave has the freedom to do so and those who want to stay can linger as they wish.
    • Laura usually sends out an e-mail reminder about a week before the meeting date that includes the date, time, and place for that month’s meeting. It mentions the pages that will be discussed and any helpful information about what we will be doing or what they might want to bring along.
    • Sometimes we do a special type of meeting just to keep variety. For example, last December we had just finished discussing art instruction and nature notebooks. So Laura invited a lady in our group, who is an artist, to lead us in trying our hand at some watercolor techniques. Our ladies like to have a handicraft option after the break sometimes just for something different. They can chat as they work and gain ideas for their own children’s handicraft times. At this particular meeting, Laura provided the watercolor paper (cut into postcard-size sheets) and some paints and brushes that she had but also invited everyone to bring any watercolors and brushes they had.

    I hope our experience provides some seeds of ideas that you can cultivate to fit your group too.


    Sonya gave great advice, as always. We read about 20 pages a month for my face to face group and 10 pages a week in my virtual weekly group. The dynamics are completely different for each group because the ladies involved are each different. In both groups (as in Sonya’s) one thing we talk about is how does this apply to my homeschool in a practical way in today’s (my) world? We have had some really amazing discussions/insight as we try to apply those principles and methods to our personal situation in the moment.

    Brandy Vencel just put out a new study guide for Volume 1 – and there is a guide for the members and a guide with more information in a leader guide. You can look at it here and see if it helps as well to come up with something that works for you. I am including the link where she announced this. Scroll down to the number 1:

    I am using her Start Here guide with another group, as well.


    Thank you Sonya!

    These are some wonderful ideas that have me really excited. I must exercise some restraint haha. I love the idea of a time specifically for Q and A. We tend to go off topic alot and I feel somewhat tyrannical at times steering everyone back on topic. I imagine this helps a little with that problem. I also am grateful for the suggestions for questions as they’re open ended enough for those who are not homeschooling, which actually make up the majority of our group. And handicrafts just sound so fun, I’d love to find a way to eventually work those in every once in a while.

    Thank you so much for a peek into your meetings, it’s been a great help :-).



    Thanks for the recommendation Sheraz! I checked out Brandy’s announcement video and it certainly looks like a great resource which I’ll be looking into more closely to see if it fills our groups needs :-).


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