One cannot embrace the Charlotte Mason philosophy for any length of time before it spills over into other areas of life and instruction. For our family, Sunday School is one of many places where we have joyfully shared this living way of learning with others. I have gathered up all my favorite articles and resources to share with you so it will all be in one handy spot. While my experience has been mainly in a family Sunday school situation, most of the articles and resources are targeted at teaching groups of children. I would love to hear how you have applied Mason’s methods in your church so please leave a comment and tell me all about it!
My experience with purposefully applying her methods in church began with a Family Sunday School (FSS) class around 18 years ago and continued for 10 years. This was a weekly class that embraced all ages and all families – whether an entire family of 10 or just a mom wished to attend. We did all sorts of things over the years, but this class always involved reading at home between the Sundays. So we gathered to narrate, discuss, and perhaps do an activity such as dramatization of the reading. For many families, our structure of the class provided a clear way for dads to be involved directly in the daily spiritual formation of their children, something that was missing for them. For others, the format enhanced their homeschools as many of the books were included in their curricula. We tried to concentrate on a book of the Bible at least one quarter each year. While someone was always administering the class, weekly lessons were passed around from family to family via a sign-up sheet. What a delight to see what each family chose for their lessons that week! While we knew that Charlotte labeled Sunday School “a necessary evil” to aid overwrought parents, we found a way to help families weave Bible reading and other literature into their daily rhythms. Hymn study, picture study, oral narration, drawing narration, dramatizing, handicrafts, recitation, composer study and other methods were some of the living teaching methods utilized.
The main thing to be aimed at is, that the children should learn a new idea about God; it is unwise always to draw only a personal lesson from the day’s reading.
-Helen Wix, The P.N.E.U. in Sunday Schools
Beyond FSS, I have taught adults and teens Francis Shaeffer’s How Should We Then Live book and video series and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I’ve seen my children use bits of Mason’s methods in VBS and in the nursery. And picture study is a wonderful activity for any class. See my favorite resources for that below.
One of the challenges is that your attendees will be from such a wide swath of experience and knowledge. But that’s the beauty of this – these methods are living and can speak to all situations. There were adults in my class that had never heard of Pilgrim’s Progress. There were dads who had never read Scripture aloud to their families. No matter. When given truth and beauty to digest, most everyone rises happily to the occasion. And the children with their narration abilities! Astonishing, sometimes. But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised as Charlotte tells us it is an innate ability.
Here are some helpful resources for you to explore as you bring the living methods of Charlotte Mason to your Sunday Schools:
Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on Sunday School – see Parents and Children (Vol. 2) chapter 10 “Bible Lessons”, pp. 92-100.
Book – Art and Children’s Worship by Jean Smith
Art and the Bible website – I used this site for years to find great art to go along with Bible passages.
The Visual Commentary on Scripture (VCS) – my new favorite for picture study resources in church!
LIVING BOOKS USED IN FSS
- Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
- The Holy War by John Bunyan
- Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
- God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
- George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Geoff and Janet Benge
- A Child’s Geography of the Holy Land by Ann Voskamp
- The Attributes of God by A.W. Tozer
LIVING BOOKS USED IN ADULT/TEEN SS
- How Should We Then Live by Francis Schaeffer (with videos)
- Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
OTHER GOOD THINGS
Bringing Charlotte Mason to Children’s Sunday School – Min Hwang’s talks and resources
Children’s Church/Sunday School editable template for teachers by Jennifer Yount. (To use – set up a free Canva account and make a copy before editing.)
Charlotte Mason in Children’s Ministries – written and gathered by Rachel Fitch
Offering the Gospel to Children by Gretchen Wolff Pritchard
The Bible Story Handbook by John and Kim Walton – a great resource for the teacher for teaching Bible stories to children. An alternative to the Patterson-Smyth commentaries. (HT – Jason Fiedler at the 2019 LER!)
A Family Guide to the Biblical Feasts by Robin Sampson
I hope you find some inspiration in all of these materials! Let me know if you can add anything in the comments below.
This method is so simple, based on such simple rules that therein lies perhaps its greatest difficulty. But if we can bear in mind that we wish the children to learn how to learn, that will be a help. If we wish to teach a baby to walk, the baby must himself do the walking and it does not help him a bit if we walk. But it is a help for him if we are there ready to cheer him on and save him from just the hardest tumbles. So we must leave the work to the children, and their brains, their minds, their spirits, will grow by exercise, and grow as they should grow, for we under God’s guidance shall be able to help them into the right way. So here is the first thing to remember. Let the children do the work. That is, let them narrate, do not question. Don’t interrupt and don’t hurry the child.
-Helen Wix, The P.N.E.U. Method in Sunday Schools
Teaching from peace,