Like the sound of the Classical educational model but totally vibe with Charlotte Mason’s philosophies? Here’s how we blend Charlotte Mason and Classical education styles.
When I first researched homeschooling methods, I had my heart set on the Classical model. Then I actually started homeschooling. After looking in to Charlotte Mason’s philosophies, I realized I naturally lived out a few of her methods. It’s amazing what reality will teach us.
Without realizing, I combined the two and to me, they went together flawlessly. Let me explain just how we combine Classical and Charlotte Mason styles. First, if you have no idea what I mean by Charlotte Mason and Classical – check out this post.
First of all, I started our homeschooling journey with Classical Conversations (CC). This is a classically based homeschool curriculum. At the elementary stage, the classical model is almost entirely memory work. Therefore, we began our homeschool journey by memorizing all sorts of facts. We memorize information for every subject, including Latin!
CC works in a three part “cycle” of information. We started with the middle ages, then went back to ancients the following year. Now, we are back in the middle ages for this 2021-2022 school year. (Check out this video for the reason behind all the back and forth business!)
So this just means that every school day, for 24 weeks out of the year (because that’s how long a cycle is) we run through all the subject’s weekly memory work. We do this during lunchtime in what I like to call our ‘lunch basket.’ This is really just a play on the morning basket concept. I find that whenever my kids are at the table and their mouths are full, I get a lot of school work done with them 😉
So every school day at lunch time, you will find us at the kitchen table singing about the Magna Carta, or skip counting by 6 as we review our CC memory work. That is really how we incorporate the Classical method and CC in to our homeschool day. Pretty simple huh?
Now for the Charlotte Mason weave to this story. We are currently working our way through Ambleside Online (AO) Year 1. This is a free, Charlotte Mason inspired online homeschool curriculum. It is also our first year following the schedule and all I can say is, YES! We absolutely LOVE it!
Now if you are not familiar with Charlotte Mason, the key takeaway for the purposes of this post is narration. Narration is really just the ability to tell back, in your own words, what you read in a particular story. This concept is very important in a Charlotte Mason education.
So we have certain books that we read for history and geography, based on AO’s year 1 schedule. With this schedule, I created a ‘lunch basket schedule.’ This is really just a block schedule for history and geography. All our other AO subjects are a part of our morning basket. Then, while the kids are eating, I simply read from our scheduled book for the day.
First, I will ‘preview’ the reading with things to look for in today’s story. Then, I ask my son to review what we read about last time. Then I just read. I try to read with gusto to keep it fun and exciting for the kids. However the books are so rich and engaging on their own, it isn’t necessary. Then I usually ask a question about the story. There are various ways to get children to narrate. “Tell me what stood out to you in this story” is my go-to narration prompt.
For now, this is all that we do to incorporate the Charlotte Mason method into our homeschool. We enjoy the ‘living books’ that we encounter through AO and we have fun talking about them afterward!
Combining the two
So now, how do these two curriculums connect? Well, in a way, they don’t. We are going through the middle ages with CC and AO. We read about Napoleon and how he crossed the Alps today, but I know we won’t review our memory work on Napoleon from CC until week 12 (two weeks later). And that’s ok. When we get to the memory work, the story we read a few weeks prior will be remembered. Then, we will make that connection and store that information all together.
The memory work creates the peg on which to hang all the related material we get from AO (or anywhere else for that matter). That peg remains there, as long as we diligently review, ready to hang the appropriate information over time. And that is how we combine the two! If you would like to see this in action, I shared a video on how we do it, here.
Now all that said, I wouldn’t say that I follow each method precisely. Charlotte Mason lends itself to family subjects. This is why I include the AO readings during family gatherings such as morning time and lunch time. Likewise, CC does the same. There is more to each method, but at the elementary level, this is what we currently do.
You’ll note that I take what works for us, and leave what doesn’t. If you are new to homeschooling, I would encourage you to do the same. No two families are alike and no two homeschools are the same. I share what we do as a jumping off point, or as inspiration on how you can do the same – if you are so inclined. Most importantly, enjoy creating your own unique educational experience!