Is Charlotte Mason Unschooling?

by Lynn B Hocraffer, BS
copyright 1997


CM looks to outsiders like unschooling because the children have a lot of time "free". They aren't doing hours and hours of sitting at their desks going through 30 math problems and 20 pages of Reading textbook with a workbook, and... It sure isn't "school-at-home"!

CM looks to the children like unschooling. The lessons are short, on-topic, as interesting as possible. There are few if any textbooks or workbooks or drill sheets. There are lots and lots of interesting books to read and/or have read to them. Every day there are art projects and/or Nature walks, and music. Every day there is lots of "free" time in the yard or park where Mom has provided interesting activities and Mom is out there with them.

To the Christian Unschooler, who believes that unschooling means bringing up a child in the way God intended he should go instead of being forced into a standard curriculum- CM is good unschooling.

To Mom CM is extremely structured. Mom has to make sure the lessons are short, on-topic, directed to the child's learning style and ability, and as interesting as possible. Mom has to make sure the lessons cover what the child needs to know. Mom has to make sure the child develops spiritually as well as physically and mentally. Mom has to read the books. Mom has to prepare the supervised play activities- CM does NOT believe in letting the children run around town with whomever and wherever and whenever they please. (Can you tell CM really believed Mom was important?)

To the far-extreme John Holt Unschoolers, who think that a child should never be compelled to do anything but be allowed to develop naturally: CM is not anything like unschooling. There are Christian followers of Holt who believe that the Holy Spirit will lead the child. Even John Holt devotees tend to require a minimum of things like math, and discuss how to get Junior to learn to read even when they feel guilty for leaving books on the couch to tempt him. By this group, CM is considered to be very structured schooling.

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