Charlotte Mason’s Approach to Reading
This is the third in our six part series on Charlotte Mason’s method for teaching reading.
Below is Charlotte Mason’s First Reading Lesson, as described in Home Education, Volume One (affiliate link). This lesson’s sequence can be used with any beautiful nursery rhyme or poem. Suggestions for poems are at Charlotte Mason Reading Lessons.
The below reading lesson is described in Charlotte Mason’s Home Education, Volume 1:
1. Choose a children’s poem, of four lines or so, that your child would enjoy. Ms. Mason illustrates her lesson using the poem “Who Killed Cock Robin?”
Who killed Cock Robin
I said the sparrow
With my bow and arrow
I killed Cock Robin
2. Print many copies of the poem (as many as six), in large text, and cut up each of the words and place on the table.
3. Write on a board a word or two from the poem. Say the words, have your child repeat:
4. Have your child pick out each of the words you are studying, “Cock” and “Robin”.
5. Do the same for the other words, two at a time, writing in a column on the white board, rather than verse form:
6. Have your child read from the board in various orders, “backwards and forward, and every way, except as the words run in the verse” (212).
7. Now take away all but one set of words. Have your child arrange one set of his words into columns.
8. Now read the poem slowly, as your child arranges his words in verse form. The “culminating joy” of the lesson (212)!
9. Have your child read the poem from your paper copy of the poem, forwards and backwards. “So long as he lives he will know those twelve words” (213).
Where to go next?
“Suppose he learns ten words a day, in half a year he will have at least six hundred words” (213).
“Naturally; for though many of our English words are each a law unto itself, others offer a key to a whole group, as arrow gives us sparrow, marrow, harrow; but we alternate days – one for reading, the other for word-building – and that is one way to secure variety, and, so, the joyous interest which the real secret of success” (214).
“Learning to read is to many children hard work, and let us do what we can to make the task easy and inviting” (214).