The CMEC wants to support all families with the life-giving ideas of Charlotte Mason.
Day-to-day life with young children can sometimes be overwhelming, but Charlotte Mason had so many wonderful ideas to support and structure our days.
While Mason did not start formal schooling until age six, she offered foundational principles and practices that lay the basis for the years ahead. CMEC member families have grown to love the delightful, varied, and rich occupations for our youngest children. We want for our little ones to experience the full “child-life,” or Kinderleben, doing activities developmentally appropriate for their age, building good habits, and soaking up all that their natural world offers for them. We have seen the dangers of rushing too quickly ahead or pushing too hard too early. Mason’s approach was based on broad experience and is still observed by teachers and psychologists today. We aim to provide children with the "quiet, growing time" that will prepare the fertile soil needed for the rest of their life.
So even if your children are little, there are good reasons to join the CMEC!
Our Kinderleben Guide
The CMEC offers a thorough guide with suggested reading and activities, as well as well-researched resources and direction for the Kinderleben parent to help cultivate a joyful year of learning with littles. Rather than supply a formal curriculum, organized by subject and readings, we provide a comprehensive text that gives parents a helpful combination of ideas and practical tips for the start of a Mason education.
Our 70-page guide details those "first relationships" your young student should develop as a strong foundation for his studies in future years—as well as for "joy in living" now! Our suggestions are accessible to the parents whose oldest child is just entering kindergarten and those with other older students. We discuss building a healthy home atmosphere, developing habits of order in the schoolroom and in the family schedule, and considering and implementing chores for the young child. Then we take on what Elsie Kitching calls the "moveable timetable.” What ought a Kinderleben student's day look like? How do we help them be productively employed and introduce them to living ideas of all sorts? Our guide answers those questions with a broad feast of nature activities, indoor occupations, and a curated selection of books. We also include seasonal suggestions for crafts, chores, and picture books, additional booklists for bedtime reading, and a "wishlist" of toys, materials, and supplies for learning spaces. We provide a sample daily routine as well as tools for planning your own. There are sections for each season, with suggestions for picture books, handicrafts, seasonal living, and outdoor life to match the time of year.
For Kinderleben parents, we include a thorough study plan with our Top 12 Parents' Review articles on parenting young children, links to modern research about play, outdoor time, and media use for children, and a description of how to take on a special study of your own.
We hope this guide will be all you need to use the atmosphere, discipline, and living ideas of your home and the surrounding world to help your young students thrive.
Kinderleben Form Meetings
There are three Form Meetings each year, one per term, for Kinderleben parents to receive guidance, ask questions, and meet with parents of similarly-aged children around the country.
At these meetings, we inspire one another to bring fresh thought each season to the work of our young students. For example, in the fall, we might discuss how to incorporate young children into Thanksgiving celebrations, fall chores, favorite fall picture books, and how to keep a Mother’s Logbook. In the wintertime, we have taken up subjects like good audiobooks for littles, tips for getting outdoors in cold weather, poetry teatime, and Christmas gift ideas. To round out these meetings, we usually dive into a discussion of a Parents’ Review article especially geared to parents of Kinderleben students.
Beyond the practical help and encouragement these meetings offer, they are such a nice way to get tapped into a vibrant community that shares your vision for family life and the joys and struggles of early childhood.
Form Leader Support
Members are invited to contact the Kinderleben Form Leader throughout the term with questions. These questions may be answered immediately or may be sent along to the CMEC team to be answered live during the Form Meetings.
Kinderleben ResourcesOn our website, we provide special reading from the Parents’ Review geared toward the early years. In the 1930s-40s, the addition of a "Playroom" option was added in Mason's schools, and several useful articles and pamphlets were put out specifically regarding the teaching of children ages 0-5. These articles give so many sound, practical ideas on what learning in early childhood ought to look like! We round those off with additional suggestions from PNEU nursery teachers, experienced mothers, psychologists, and other voices from the Parents' Review community of writers. The Kinderleben area of our website also features a set of stories and songs to use with young children, member-submitted samples of moveable timetables, and an ever-growing photo gallery of our Kinderleben program in action.
Training for Future HomeschoolingWe encourage all members of the CMEC to attend our community events and take full advantage of our resources. These provide a great way to direct your energy as you prepare to homeschool. What an amazing head start a young mother will have by tackling the coursework of our Mother’s Education Course, for example, or spending a weekend watching our retreat on Art Instruction in the Mason homeschool. So many living ideas and practical advice is available!
In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air. And this, not for the gain in bodily health alone––body and soul, heart and mind, are nourished with food convenient for them when the children are let alone, let to live without friction and without stimulus amongst happy influences which incline them to be good. (Home Education, p. 43)
We hope you will find our program to be just the support you are looking for in securing those "quiet growing years" while preparing for more joyful years of learning ahead.
To learn more and see samples, download our Information Packet:
What members say about our Kinderleben program...
Unique and Accessible
"The CMEC's approach to preparing a mother for the early years is unique and accessible. Specific, flexible ideas to help guide a family through these years in ways that respect both the mother and the child. I particularly love how specific CMEC is. Rather than just saying "no academics!", CMEC gives guidance on what Charlotte Mason's mothers and teachers would have been doing with their 4- and 5-year-olds. It's been lovely!"
Simple and Varied
"I loved the kinderleben guide and … found it so helpful and practical. I appreciate that in opposition to a packaged curriculum or checklist for littles, it instead approaches these sweet years with simple, varied ideas that are seamlessly interwoven into daily family life."
Philosophical and Practical
"The Kinderleben guide is so inspirational. It presents a picture of a beautiful, rich, quiet growing time for young children and gives both the philosophical mindsets and practical steps to approach this. I love the fact that Kinderleben students get a chunk of time in the Form Meetings -- it's a great reminder to me not to leave my little ones behind as I focus on teaching my older student."
– Mary Austin