Monday, March 7, 2016

Junior High Junction: Charlotte Mason for Middle School?

As I venture into Charlotte Mason homeschooling, the big question I keep asking myself is:

When I first started reading about Charlotte Mason, her methods seemed geared toward elementary-aged children. However, the more I study, the more I find that her methods work well for all ages - elementary, middle school, high school, and even young adults! After all, we should never stop learning.

So how do I plan to use the Charlotte Mason method for my middle school aged children? I am going to share five ways we are using the Charlotte Mason method this week, and hopefully a few more next week.

Charlotte Mason stresses the importance of short lessons - short lessons build the habit of attention. When your child is giving their full attention to a lesson, they retain much more information. The recommended time per lesson for grades 4-6 is 20-30 minutes and for grades 7-9, it increases to 30-45 minutes.

I am not going to set a timer, although that is a great idea for younger children. Generally, Mikaela's lessons take around 20 to 30 minutes, with math stretching to maybe 45 minutes a day, but I will do what is necessary for her lessons to stay within the recommended time frames.

Copy-work is generally thought of for younger children, but I believe it is a very good way to teach grammar, spelling, and penmanship. Copy-work will be taken from our history curriculum or artist study, and she will do it two days a week.

Dictation is a little different from copy-work - the child studies a passage, noting the correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. The parent then dictates the passage, phrase by phrase, while the child correctly writes it. Mikaela will use dictation once or twice a week, taking passages from living books we will be reading.

Mikaela will drop her formal grammar program from daily to three times weekly.

Living books are books written in a narrative or conversational style. These books are very different from textbooks, which spit out facts and information. Living books teach by telling a story. You can select living books for every subject. An example of a few living books for middle school:

Mikaela will be reading many living books as opposed to textbooks for history, science, and geography.

You are never too old for nature study! We spend a lot of time outdoors, but I am going to make nature study a formal subject once or twice a week. This means we will either go on a nature walk, do some bird-watching, or use our sketchbooks to draw insects, or plants, or clouds. I will expect Mikaela to do further reading on whatever topic we are examining. An hour a week of formal nature study is what I am aiming for.

Handicrafts differ from arts and crafts. Handicrafts require a skill to be learned and produces projects that are useful. Mikaela already enjoys baking and cooking, so I am going to let her have time in the kitchen each week, alone, to explore recipes. A few of the handicrafts we will be learning are sewing, crocheting {she already knows the basics}, embroidery, calligraphy, jewelry making, paper beads, and working with felt. My list of handicrafts is ever-growing! I plan to have Mikaela spend a half hour to an hour in the afternoon or evening working on her handicraft.

I hope this list has helped you! I plan to share some more ideas next week on how to homeschool middle school the Charlotte Mason way!

My Full Heart: Junior High Junction


  1. Great post! We intended to simplify this year, but that meant longer lessons. My son does so much better with shorter lessons!