Starting with a 4 year old

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    Hi.  I am just starting homeschool with my 4 yo.  She was previously attending a Montessori program 3 mornings a week.  I just recently learned about Charlotte Mason and would like to use this method.  I read the section on PreK-Kindergarten and still feel a little unsure.  I know the focus at this age is on habits, nature, Bible reading, art, and music and that formal studies start at about age 6 for CM.  Where I’m unsure is that the PreK-K section did reference math, reading, and handwriting resources to use.  So should I use these resources now or is it too early? And if it’s too early, at what point would I add these resources? Also, is there a book that I should read about the CM method that would give me a broad understanding and guidance?  Thanks!


    Hi there! My eldest is six and we are in our first full year of CM homeschooling, but I have spent the past year doing a lot of learning about the CM methods. A great book to start with would be “For the Children’s Sake,” as well as Miss Mason’s original writings. Her emphasis before age six was on good habit-training at home, lots of time outdoors, and lots of reading of good books. In her writings, she does mention that children eager to learn before that age certainly shouldn’t be deprived of doing so, but that formal learning shouldn’t be the requirement until then. So with that in mind, if you little one is showing an interest in learning to read or practicing math, then go for it at a speed that feels right. But certainly don’t feel pressure to be doing anything formal in those areas yet.
    For us, math and reading came naturally as we worked together at home and read together every day. My daughter entered her first year knowing how to read well and understanding numbers and basic concepts such as sequencing just by our day-to-day activities in the kitchen, grocery store, etc. Charlotte Mason famously declared education to be a way of life more than just something that happens in an isolated classroom. The play that happens in those early years is the best form of learning.


    The Early Years book and DVD are good guides for this stage.  The section near the end explains how to play with letters informally, when the child is ready.  Read aloud alphabet books which use both upper and lowercase letters.  Math happens quite naturally through daily life and in play.  Although not purely CM, you might also check into Before Five in a Row for this year.

    Tamara Bell

    Reading, math, and handwriting are skills we only want to work on if the child is showing interest.  The time spent on these skills should not be forced or even scheduled daily; instead we should allow the children to take the lead.  SCM has a blog series concerning the pre-school years that walks parents (myself included) through the early years.

    Enjoy this time Momma.  My 12yr old has taken to the feeling a bit like her Momma where the littles are concerned.  She’s already nostalgic for the earlier years of her brother (who is only 5.5!)

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