Welcome to Mater Amabilis™, a structured, Charlotte Mason style curriculum for Catholics. Mater Amabilis™ is a FREE Charlotte Mason style curriculum created specifically for Catholic homeschool families.
There can sometimes be confusion over what a Charlotte Mason (CM) education means. CM homeschooling is portrayed as everything from a relaxed, almost unschooling style, to a formal, structured method. Such confusion can be resolved by dividing the different styles into two categories: Charlotte Mason structured and Charlotte Mason influenced education.
- A Charlotte Mason structured education attempts to follow the methodology set out in CM’s own writings as closely as possible. Children follow a set, formal course of study, using a highly efficient method which allows children to cover a broad range of subjects in the course of a short school day.
- A Charlotte Mason influenced education gleans ideas or methods such as living books, narration, short lessons and nature study from Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and applies them to a range of different styles of education –a particular curriculum, literature based education, relaxed homeschooling, unit studies, or even unschooling.
The Mater Amabilis™ curriculum presents a structured approach but the ideas here can also be used or adapted as part of a CM influenced education.
For over seventy years children educated at home could be registered with CM’s Parents’ Union School (PUS), which provided them with programs of study. Those programs have been used as a guide for Mater Amabilis™, informing the subjects studied at each level, the workload that can be comfortably covered, and the time required for formal schooling.
The system of grade levels here is modeled after the PUS’s levels with some modifications. They are laid out by age but parents should feel free to move their child up or down as needed. If you are new to the Mater Amabilis ™ curriculum and unsure where to begin or place your child, download and print our helpful guide to getting started.
Each Level has its own page with the books and materials suggestions (**see note below) for each subject listed. Many books and subjects have specific lesson plans and schedules to assist you in planning.
Efficiency & schedule
When you first look at the levels you may think them overwhelming. In practice however, the efficient nature of the Charlotte Mason method means they are far less time-consuming than they may appear.
…we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving.”
Charlotte Mason, vol 6 pg 26
Each Level of Mater Amabilis™ provides scheduling for a 36 week year; however these are simply suggestions which can be adapted to suit your child and family needs.
Reading Aloud and REading in Mater Amabilis™
Because Mater Amabilis™ follows Charlotte Mason’s own Programme’s of work, it is worth noting that the curriculum is richly immersed in literary works – thus a significant amount of reading will be completed across each Form of work.
To introduce children to literature is to install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child’s intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find.“
Charlotte Mason, vol 6 pg 51
“Introducing” children to literature begins in the earliest Forms of Mater Amabilis™ – in Prep Level, Level IB, Level IA – before the child may have acquired the skill of reading independently. This means, out of necessity, that the mother/teacher will be reading aloud those books listed on the curriculum for the early years. Rest assured that these books are a delight to be enjoyed together, and since lessons are short in Charlotte Mason days, this reading aloud should not be a burden to mother nor should it occupy a substantial amount of time in the day.
Once students reach Level 2 (ages 9 to 11) children work increasingly independently. As soon as children are capable of independent reading, they should begin to read their own books and interact with ideas, ultimately growing to become a self educator:
...there is no education but self-education.“
Charlotte Mason, vol 6 pg 26
Mater Amabilis™ is a Charlotte Mason education and is designed so that the child does the work of interacting with books and ideas.
The Role of Mother and Teacher
Charlotte Mason, in School Education, shares what our job as mother/teacher will be:
“we, for our part, have two chief concerns —
1. first, to put him in the way of forming these relations by presenting the right idea at the right time, and by forming the right habit upon the right idea;
2. and secondly, by not getting in the way and so preventing the establishment of the very relations we seek to form.
Charlotte Mason, School Education, p. 66 & 67
We “introduce children to literature,” “put him in the way” of ideas, and “see that he knows” through the assessment tool of narration (see Language Arts). The Mater Amabilis™ curriculum is designed to help you accomplish these tasks. And in doing so, you and your children will enjoy an education that “is twice blessed, it blesses him that gives and him that takes...” (CM, vol 6 pg 27)
To gain a better understanding of the Charlotte Mason method, you may want to read through our online help pages:
*Many people have contributed ideas and support in the development of this curriculum – contributions which are gratefully received.
**Mater Amabilis™ seeks to use the best books/materials available. Some of the book suggestions are available as e-texts online; many are not. Books can be obtained through online booksellers, Catholic vendors, and local libraries.