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Grade 1          Classical Education

Grade 2          Charlotte Mason

Grade 3          History & Geography

Grade 4          Science & Nature

Grade 5          Literature & Reading

Grade 6          Imagination & Play

Grade 7          Languages

Grade 8          Where's the Queen?


     Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the 1800s who dedicated her life to children's education.  Her method, which has children dealing directly with the best books, music, and art, is founded on the idea that "Education is the science of relations." As she puts it:

     "Children come into the world with a natural appetite for all the material of knowledge; for interest in the heroic past and in the age of myths; for a desire to know about everything that moves and lives; about strange places and strange peoples; ... Therefore...we endeavor that he shall have relations of pleasure and intimacy established with as many possible of the interests proper to him; not learning a slight or incomplete smattering about this or that subject, but plunging into vital knowledge, with a great field before him which in all his life he will not be able to explore." 

     In other words, Charlotte Mason believed that education was much more than knowing lists of information or being able to fill answers in blanks.  True education is an intimate knowledge of a subject, gained through the actual interaction of minds (via people and books), nature, and discipline of habit.  

     Charlotte Mason promoted ideas such as using "twaddle-free" literature to teach subjects, the use of "narration" to organize thinking, the importance of free play to the imagination, and the helpfulness of developing good habits such as attentiveness and responsibility. One of Charlotte Mason's greatest passions was that of nature study.  

     Charlotte Mason did not believe in "talking down" to children.  As she put it, "All who know children know that they do not talk twaddle and do not like it...I am speaking now of his lesson books which are all to apt to be written in a style of insufferable twaddle..."

     Instead, Charlotte Mason encouraged the use of whole books (not portions of books) and primary resources to teach youngsters everything from history to reading. She believed that a child, having read well-written literature containing noble ideas would remember his lessons for a lifetime. 

      The Tanglewood Curriculum emphasizes the use of "living" books to teach subjects such as history, science, and literature. This means that instead of teaching primarily from textbooks, we utilize well-written books that capture a child's imagination.  For example, while studying the Renaissance time period, the 3rd grader will be read to every day out of the "anchor" book, Our Island Story, by H. E. Marshall, which covers information in chronological order.  (All of our "anchor" books have been chosen according to their literary value as well.  The events of history are related in the form of stories rather than in the 'facts-inserted-into-an-outline' format.)  Supplemental books, such as the classic Scottish Chiefs or the 'for fun' Shakespeare Stealers will  give the student deeper insight by letting him live vicariously in that time period getting to "know" the movers and shakers, learning the causes and effects of events, and experiencing the culture of the day. A student, having "lived" through the Renaissance, will have a much greater understanding and empathy for the time than if he had simply read a few paragraphs in a textbook.

     Another of Charlotte Mason's great passions is the study of nature. In addition to bounding around in a "field of interest and delight," children receive an unequaled mental training by learning to keenly observe, being "encouraged to watch, patiently and quietly, until they learn something of the habits and history of bee, ant, wasp, spider, hairy caterpillar, dragon-fly, and whatever of larger growth comes in their way."  
Charlotte Mason quotables:

     "Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life."   

"The child who does not know the portly form and spotted breast of the thrush, the graceful flight of the swallow, the yellow bill of the blackbird, the gush of song which the skylark pours from above, is nearly as much to be pitied as those London children who 'had never seen a bee.'"

    "The power to classify, discriminate, distinguish between things that differ, is amongst the highest faculties of the human intellect, and no opportunity to cultivate it should be let slip;"

    "Children... should pick out half a dozen trees...and take these to be their yearlong friends."

     As Charlotte Mason wrote, "We trust much to good books...we know that there is a storehouse of thought wherein we may find all the great ideas that have moved the world."  Understanding the power literature has over adult and child minds alike, we have striven to select well-written books that capture the imagination as well as reiterate the values we want to pass on to our children. We have tried following Charlotte Mason's advice:  "But how shall you determine whether a given book be worth reading or not?  By the testimony of your own soul.  If the book throws your whole being into the wild tumult of mingled thought and aspiration, if it lifts you till you feel, in the sweet deception of the hour, that the wings of your own spirit leave their shadows upon the star-lit heights, and you almost wonder that you yourself have allowed those grand words to remain so long unsaid, look no farther.  You have found the book you were looking for, and it bears the divine imprint of genius."
     A literature program would not be complete without an excellent helping of poetry.  Charlotte Mason suggested that poetry be read aloud at various times throughout the day, perhaps when the child is working on a handicraft  or as he is snuggling down in the bed for a nap.  Poetry will "accustom him to the delicate rendering of shades of meaning, and especially to make him aware that words are beautiful in themselves, that they are a source of pleasure, and are worthy of our honour."
     The promotion of "narration" could arguably be one of the most important achievements of Charlotte Mason.  Narration, which is simply the learner retelling in his own way what he has learned, develops attentiveness, organized thought, critical thinking skills, and communication skills.  These are great rewards to be gained from such a simple and time-efficient method.   The student does not fill in numerous and often boredom inducing workbooks, and the parent does not spend hours grading those same pages. Instead, natural human interaction takes place as the pupil tells what happened in today's story or as the teacher exclaims over the detailed illustration the child made of today's topic.  The Tanglewood Curriculum gives guidelines and ideas for narrations and incorporates them into the day's work and the family's natural functions.
     Charlotte Mason spends a lot of time discussing the importance of habits in one's life and encourages parents to take seriously their duty to instill good habits in their children.  She points out that in addition to giving the child a great gift that will last through his lifetime, "The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children." The Tanglewood Curriculum provides suggestions, encouragements, and areas for record keeping in the teacher's Corebook.
 Following Charlotte Mason's method, Tanglewood:
1    utilizes the best literature and poetry available
2.   follows the timeline of history - beginning with the ancients and chronologically       progressing to modern times, recording events and personages in a Book of the Centuries
3.  provides encouragement and resources for incorporating free play and outdoor play into the day's lessons.
4.  provides materials that help children build relationships with their areas of study
5.  provides guidelines and reminders for narrations
6.  provides guidelines and ideas for nature study and nature journaling (a nature notebook is included)
7.  helps keep parents accountable by providing space to record the habits being worked on
8.  keeps lessons short and sweet
9.  gives guidelines for "Picture Studies" in the teacher's Corebook
In addition to Charlotte Mason's method, Tanglewood:
1.  utilizes the phonetic approach to learning to read
2.  uses some workbooks and traditional methods of teaching to familiarize the student with the types of questions he may encounter in standardized testing
3.  teaches spelling with the aid of age-appropriate and phonetic rule-oriented word lists in addition to the more natural Charlotte Mason method


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