Topic | Prepping Yourself for Charlotte Mason and Homeschooling before the kids come

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  • ajohnso8

    Definitely a odd request!

    So, just for some background information, I have an English degree, but I have not been in school since 2012. I kept everything from my high school and college years, because of the notes I took. I do not have children yet, but I like to prep and prepare for situations beforehand whenever I can. I will be getting married next year, and a year after that, my fiancé and I will be having children. Hopefully, by that time, I will be working from home. We will be building our house and living in a neighborhood, but we are hoping to have 3 acres and be backed up behind some woods. So, I definitely want a garden, and my future husband and I between us have a lot of hands on skills that we can teach our children.

    Sorry for the info overload! What are some preparatory things I can do/buy or familiarize myself with involving Charlotte Mason (with a bit of Classical intertwined perhaps?), homeschooling and education in general (math, science, ect.?) Are there any habits, or ways of thinking, that I can start adapting, so it will be easier to teach when the time comes? but I would genuinely love some advice from some people who are doing Charlotte Mason, or homeschooling, who can give me some information about what they wish they knew beforehand, what they would do differently or what they would have done to prepare?



    I think the best advice is to find a local homeschool community you can connect with. In person conversations and hearing a lot of different ideas can help you sort out what you like and do not like, hearing pros and cons. Just don’t get caught up in trying everything available, there is a lot out there. State conferences are also a fantastic resource and a wealth of information!

    As a homeschool graduate (k-12 at home) and now homeschooling my children I also realized that it is great to research and get ideas but when life happens everything can change and be flexible don’t get stuck in thinking it can only be accomplished in one specific way.

    Charlotte’s original works are a great place to start.

    SCM web page is also fantastic as well as Karen Andreola has a couple great books about how and why CM education works.


    Here is my advice (I’ve been homeschooling 13 years, 5 kids, oldest is graduating this spring):

    • Read a few books about Charlotte Mason if you are interested in her methods. However, remember that you are free to adopt what you like and leave the rest. Don’t become a slave to a method, especially before you discover what type of learners your future children are.
    • Don’t plan too far ahead. It’s great to have ideas and be enthusiastic but planning too far ahead NEVER works out. Life always throws things at you that you don’t expect.
    • Keep it simple. Less is more. Read a few books, but not 20. Have some general ideas of things you’d like to do, but don’t plan out every detail. Remember that when you begin homeschooling, your children will be very young and won’t require much more beyond the basics (reading, math, copywork) and a lot of fun stuff (baking, crafts, playing outside).

    You will not be able to plan out very much until you have children, and until they are very nearly school age. So my advice is to explore a little and enjoy it, but leave most of the planning for when you really need it. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to have it all figured out! Most of us grow, learn and change WITH our children, as we teach them, not ahead of time.


    What ErinD said.  And read up on Deschooling – for yourself


    I’ve been homeschooling 20 years. Started 18 years after High School graduation. Knew nothing, absolutely nothing about homeschooling. But I still had SCHOOL ingrained into me & that’s what I tried to recreate at home.  That’s why I suggested to read up on Deschooling. I wish I would’ve known about some of it. Take what you can use and like. I also wished I would have known about Charlotte Mason methods. Most of what you find on deschooling pertains to pulling your child out of a school & I know that is not your situation.  There are a few points here that could help anybody no matter where they’re at in homeschooling


    I really love the book For the Children’s Sake.  Reading it first really helped me dive into CM’s original series.

    I think learning about nature would be a big help, along with the gardening!


    Besides reading Charlotte Mason’s original works….I would read and make sure your own understanding is solid because mine wasn’t!  I would start your own commonplace book, BOC, nature notebook and enjoy learning for the sake of it!


    I am expecting my firstborn any day. I am a homeschool graduate who has been “preparing for Charlotte Mason” since I discovered her at age sixteen, twelve years ago. I am an obsessive planner and list-maker, and while I have researched curriculum and written “practice” lesson plans, what has made me feel most ready are the investments I have made in myself.

    You see, Mason exhorted her teachers to ”teach from a flowing stream, not a stagnant pool.” When a young woman told Mason she had come to learn to teach, Mason responded that she would learn how to live.

    So while the following ideas could be understood in terms of preparation for the future, I would encourage you to include, even emphasize, the thought and energy of living better now, for yourself. The vitality and joy you will secure for yourself will be the best education for your child.

    • Read Mason’s original volumes, slowly and thoughtfully, keeping a commonplace alongside. (Beyond these, I most recommend Know and Tell by Karen Glass and The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater.)
    • Join a local CM group to learn, discuss, question, and observe. I started a book study group (even as a single, childless young woman), because there wasn’t one already active in my area. I have made so many friendships and learned so much from the mothers in this community. I know I will continue to draw on these relationships when I am raising and educating my child.
    • Education should be an invitation to “Come with me!” When I encounter a practice—nature journals, picture study, book of centuries—that I look forward to using with my future child(ren), I always consider how I can incorporate it into my own life now. If I believe it is truly a worthwhile endeavor for my children as persons, then I must believe it is a worthwhile endeavor for me as a person. (This is why I taught myself to play a recorder, even though I am not at all musical. I recommend the book Never Too Late by John Holt.)
    • Discover and enrich yourself with local resources for music, art, and nature. Is there a student orchestra that gives free performances? Is there an interesting exhibit on display at the museum or park? Are guided hikes offered at the local preserve?
    • Mason actually offered a training course for mothers, which included assigned readings in four areas: theology, health, education, and nature. Brandy Vencel posts book lists on her blog every summer, but even the idea of these four categories is instructive.
    • Mason specifically encouraged mothers to increase their knowledge of local nature. A mother, she believed, should be able to answer her child’s questions about the natural world of their experience. This is more than being able to repeat the names of plants and animals, but helping to guide a child’s own observations about their growth and habit.

    My most recent effort has been to adopt Mason’s practices for nature study (which, by the way, were the same methods used with her student teachers). I have read living books, taken guided and unguided walks, and kept nature journals and lists.

    This approach has made me very comfortable with the methods as well as “friendly” with the knowledge I’ve collected in my notebooks. I feel well prepared to introduce the “calendar of firsts,” the “nature journal,” and the “nature list” to my child, and better understand through my experience the individuality and the difficulty involved in keeping them. I can walk the neighborhoods and local preserves and name the birds and the trees and the flowers that I see, or I know what observations to make so I can identify them later. While we have always enjoyed being outside, there is new delight for both my husband and I as we keep a list together of the flowers, birds, and insects we encounter.

    Will this make me a better Charlotte Mason teacher in the future? I am sure it will! In the meantime, and not less importantly, it’s making me a happier, more interested person today. And I believe those end up being the same thing. 🙂


    I started with reading a lot of books about homeschooling when my children where younger. Back then i heard about CM, but never thought the method would work for us. Pray and ask the Lord to lead you on your pad. You may think you have it all prepared, but when the kids are there you will first want to know if CM will work for you and your family/ kids.

    For me it worked to put on paper what i want to learn about homeschooling with the CM method and why. And you can start exploring nature right now and read (and write your own reviews) about living books for children for example (So you know where the stories are all about). Remember that you will not have all the time to read a lot of books when you will have children.

    Books that helped me;

    Better late than early, Raymond and Dorothy Moore. And other books written by them.

    Do not force yourself to want to know everything beforehand, because nobody can!

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