The Charlotte Mason Companion has a special place in my evolving personal list of Top 10 Transformational Books.
(The list is subject to change, but I am certain this book will always have a spot on it.)
It helped take me from hanging-on-by-a-thread homeschooling to homeschooling from my heart, which has made a world of difference, not just in the level of enjoyment we get out of learning together, but in the atmosphere of our home and family life as well.
A Flickering Flame
I was intrigued by what I had heard about living education, but I was at a point in my life when reading Charlotte’s six-volume Original Homeschooling Series was more than I had capacity for.
Life circumstances exhausted my mental and physical strength, and the very last thing I felt like doing was learning a completely new approach to education, written over 100 years ago, by a lady who had no children of her own.
Yet, I knew that something needed to change.
I was burning out, and the opportunity God had given me to learn alongside my children was feeling less like the privilege and joy I so wanted it to be (and knew it could).
A friend saw me struggling, and suggested I start with the Charlotte Mason Companion, instead of diving into Charlotte’s exhaustive old-English commentary on education.
(At a different place in life, I’m just now reading through her Original Homeschooling Series, and enjoying them immensely in bite-sized pieces.)
In The Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola summarizes the main ideas Charlotte had about education, and puts them into contemporary English. Andreola weaves in her own experience of teaching her children this way, which helped me see how Charlotte’s philosophy can be applied in real life.
By exploring what a good education ought to entail, emphasizing the individuality and personhood of each child, and approaching learning, not as the acquisition of facts, but as the meaningful development of the whole person (attitude and character not excluded), The Charlotte Mason Companion helped restore the zeal I originally had for homeschooling, but seemed to have lost along the way.
introduced me to effectiveness of narration in assimilating knowledge,
sparked a love for Creation and science (a subject I previously had little interest in),
magnified the beauty of the arts,
helped put the delight back into the duty
I love the insertions of artwork, the snippets of poetry, the questions for personal reflection, and the abundance of good quotes to chew upon.
Over the past few months, a few people have asked me to explain Charlotte Mason’s philosophy to them in more detail. I am still learning about her, and feel very underqualified, both in theory and in practice, to give Charlotte’s ideals and principles proper justice.
However, all that I would want to say, all that I believe you’d want to know to begin the gentle art of learning with your own children, couldn’t be better presented than in this gift Karen Andreola has given.
To mothers who are interested in home education in general, or Charlotte Mason specifically, The Charlotte Mason Companion is my number one recommendation.
With the help of God,this is what homeschooling can be.