Welcome to Mater Amabilis, a structured, Charlotte Mason style curriculum for Catholics in the 21st Century. The authors are British mother of three, Dr. Kathryn Faulkner and American mother of ten, Michele Quigley.*
The seeds of Mater Amabilis were sown in October 2003 when Michele Quigley visited England to carry out research in the Charlotte Mason archive at Ambleside and to spend time with Dr. Kathryn Faulkner and her family. In discussing the ideas of Charlotte Mason they discovered that each had followed a similar course in their home education. After becoming interested in Charlotte Mason, they each had each begun to introduce a number of her ideas into their homeschooling. As they read more of her own writings they came to understand that the style of education offered by Charlotte Mason (and her educational organization, the PNEU) was both highly structured and highly efficient. Thus they found themselves adopting what they believed was a more complete application of her principles and method.
With a desire to share what they had learned and encourage other Catholic home educating parents in this method of education, Mater Amabilis was born and went online in June 2004 as a FREE Charlotte Mason style curriculum for Catholics.
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: CM structured and CM 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 such as living books, narration, short lessons and nature study from CM and applies them to a range of different styles of education –a particular curriculum, literature based education, relaxed homeschooling 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 here as a guide to 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.
Each Level has its own page with the books/materials** suggestions for each subject listed. Some books and subjects also have lesson plans, but some do not. As the program is further developed and improved, more plans will be added.
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.
At Levels 1 and 2 it should be possible to cover the whole program in no more than two to two-and-a-half hours daily over a 36 week year.
You will also notice that our programs do not require a great deal of reading aloud. As soon as children are capable of doing so they should begin to read their own books.
Once they reach Level 2 (ages 9 to 11) children work increasingly independently. A CM structured education is designed so that the child does the work, not the teacher!
To gain a better understanding of the CM method, you may want to read through our online help pages:
*Many people have contributed ideas and lent support in the developing of this curriculum. They include but are not limited to: Elaine Evans, Karen Felicidario, Jane Finigan de Villalobos, Katie Krall, Dr. Barbara Puleo and Maria Rioux.
**Mater Amabilis seeks to use the best books/materials available when possible. Some of the book suggestions are available as e-texts online but most are not. Most of the books can be obtained through online booksellers, Catholic vendors and local libraries.