Charlotte Mason

Simply put, the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling uses reading material, small lessons and observing the natural environment as focal points for an education. But that’s a very generic explanation of Charlotte Mason homeschooling. There is really so much more to it, and I truly believe that Charlotte Mason was a wonderful teacher, and she had great ideas for education.

Just who was this Charlotte Mason person, anyway? She was a brilliant (IMHO) British teacher in the late 1800s who had a vision for free education for everyone, regardless of class or wealth. Several of her books were published outlining her theories on education.

Charlotte Mason has a lot of interesting and different ways to teach children. Her methods are designed to make learning fun and natural, rather than stiff and boring. It makes sense that children are going to learn better when they are enjoying what they are learning. Who enjoys reading dry text books and answering boring questions?

Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles

Charlotte Mason had 20 principles that her educational methods were based on. These 20 principles weren’t the same things as her homeschooling methods, but should be taken into effect when considering the CM method for homeschooling your children. In short, they describe how she views children overall, and what the important factors in education are.

CM Homeschooling Methods

Charlotte Mason had several different methods she recommended in her learning style. These methods include the following:

  • Bible Study
  • Short lessons
  • Living Books
  • Classical reading
  • Narration
  • Dictation
  • Nature study
  • Copy work

Bible Study

Charlotte Mason believed that the most important knowledge base was the Bible. As a result, most CM curriculum that you find will have devotionals and Bible reading plans included in the yearly plan.

Short Lessons

Let’s face it, younger children don’t have a large attention span. Because CM believes that education should foster a love of learning, it’s important not to make school seem too much like work at the start of school. She recommended lessons only last 20 minutes or less to avoid boredom.

Living Books

Instead of using dry, put-me-to-sleep textbooks, Charlotte Mason liked using what we call “living textbooks”. These living textbooks read more like a novel, and make it easier for kids to pay attention and learn.

Classical Reading

Not to be confused with classical education, literature classics are used as part of a CM curriculum. Reading classics can help the mind grow by sharing different views on life.


What can narration help with? Surprisingly, a lot! First, make sure you child is understanding what he or she is reading by retelling (in her own words) what happened in the story. Secondly, he will get practice with speech, vocabulary and self expression.


Having your student dictate a passage you read aloud is a great way to practice spelling and grammar skills. Use uplifting passages (such as Bible passages) for this to provide spiritual encouragement in addition to spelling practice.

Nature Study

Studying the world that God created for us is a wonderful, interesting way to learn. Nature walks or observation times can be fun activities that the whole family will enjoy!

Copy Work

Copy work is a wonderful way for your student to practice handwriting, spelling and grammar. It helps with their observation skills as well.

I really enjoy the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling. Just keep in mind that the older you get, the more time the lessons take. I think this is the main reason my teens hated it!

Do you use the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling? What is your favorite thing about it?

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