A Charlotte Mason Discussion Group has been an incredible encouragement for me.
When I needed assistance finding books to read for a specific subject, other moms had suggestions.
When I needed help understanding how to implement different subjects, our discussion of Charlotte Mason’s methods were invaluable.
When I just needed someone to listen, they were there.
It is important to have regular fellowship with like-minded homeschool families. This homeschool journey is more enjoyable, fruitful, and sustainable when we support one another. Your state homeschool organization probably has a listing of support groups in your area. If there is not a Charlotte Mason Discussion Group in your area, I encourage you to consider starting one. Here are some tips for starting your own.
Why you should start a Charlotte Mason Discussion Group
If you already belong to another support group, do you also need to participate in a Charlotte Mason Discussion Group?
Probably so, if you have enough margin in your schedule. Regular fellowship with a group of moms who “get you” is important. A general homeschool support group is valuable too, but Charlotte Mason’s methods are different than traditional learning methods. Having a place where you can discuss her philosophy and methods will better equip you to implement them in your homeschool.
A Charlotte Mason Discussion Group can be a safe place to discuss challenges and celebrate successes. Inevitably, you will have days that are not smooth. Maybe you need someone to listen and be a sounding board as you try to determine why your lessons are not working well. Perhaps someone in the group will have experienced the same situation and can provide advice and encouragement.
The members of your Charlotte Mason Discussion Group will likely have varying years of homeschool experience and personalities of children. This broad range will provide a variety of resource suggestions for the group.
How to get started
Finding members for your group may initially be a challenge, but start small. Is there one other friend with whom you can meet? Post on Facebook that you would like to form a discussion group on Skype or in a Facebook Group. Post on your local support group classifieds to see if any other Charlotte Mason moms are interested in joining you to study her works.
How often and where you should meet
We are all busy and it is difficult to fit yet another activity in our already crowded schedule. While you could meet weekly, that is not necessary. Because you will be reading through Ms. Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series, which is quite thought provoking, you probably want to meet monthly or no more than twice a month.
Our Charlotte Mason Discussion Group meets once a month in the evening so the moms can enjoy some time with friends, without needing to supervise and discipline children. However, you could have a playdate and allow the children to play while you discuss Ms. Mason’s works.
Where you meet depends on your needs. You could meet in someone’s home, especially if children will be joining you. Or, you could meet at a church, coffee shop, or restaurant. Food with fellowship and discussion is always delightful. If you cannot find someone who lives near you, you could also Skype or use Google Hangouts for your meetings.
What you should read and discuss
If everyone in your group is new to homeschooling, you might begin by reading and discussing one of the following books to help you better understand the philosophy and get a jump start.
- 1 – Home Education
- 6 – Towards A Philosophy of Education
- 2 – Parents and Children
- 3 – School Education
- 5 – Formation of Character
- 4 – Ourselves
Determine how many pages you will discuss at each meeting. There are several factors to consider when choosing the number of pages to read including:
- How often will you meet? If you meet more frequently, you will want to read fewer pages between meetings.
- How much time do you have to read? If everyone in your group has younger children, you probably have less time to read than if everyone has middle and high school aged students.
- How quickly do you want to read through one volume? Reading through one volume per year should not necessarily be your goal. Reading for understanding and to apply what you read to your homeschool should be your goal, but realistically reading five pages per month will take forever to read through a volume.
Our Charlotte Mason Discussion Group generally reads 10-20 pages per month. If the section is particularly challenging, the number of pages will be fewer.
What you should discuss
Ask yourself these three questions to take your understanding to the next level.
- What are the main ideas?
- Do I agree?
- How can I apply this?
At your meeting, discuss your narrations and the answers to these questions.
Confession time—I do not always accomplish the goal of narrating the passage and answering these questions before the meeting. And that’s okay. Narration and application before the meeting is my goal, but at a minimum I read through the assigned reading.
Be sure to allow time for fellowship and questions. Generally, our group fellowships as we eat before the discussion portion of the meeting begins. After the discussion, the floor is open for any other questions. This allows those who need to leave to do so and others to stay and chat longer or ask and answer questions.
Do you participate in a Charlotte Mason Discussion Group? If not, are you ready to form one? Let us know in the comments below what you love most about your group or if you have further questions about starting a group of your own.