Charlotte Mason on The Habit of Attention

Attention means ~

  • to give or pay attention
  • give consideration
  • to take care
  • have an attitude of readiness
  • take careful notice
  • alertness and focused awareness
  • give  full application
  • show consideration
  • give deference
  • to take heed
  • to regard
  • to notice

What does Charlotte Mason recommend to develop the Habit of Attention?

  • Keep lessons short and interesting

We have short school days.

We start at 9am (at the latest) and we complete all our junior or middle school work by lunch.

We follow a basic schedule; and start with discipleship (Bible, Hymn, singing & prayer) studies,

followed by disciplined (3R’s) studies

and ending our morning with discussion (liberal arts) and discovery (History, Social Studies, Geography) studies.

Music and Art, Nature Studies, discretionary (Life Skills & Hospitality, Careers) studies follow lunch in the afternoons or we do these on a Friday when we do not do all the other subjects.

You can see my subject planning here.

Overview Year Planner with my notes

Each lesson takes a few minutes.

For handwriting we use our laminated chart (for beginner writers) and/or a short  copywork or dictation  and this takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Then the children revise and practice spelling.  We use our white boards or Spelling City.com

Maths takes 20 minutes at the most.

We do our 2nd language study (Afrikaans) orally and complete a short written exercise which takes about 15 minutes.

We alternate our Geography, History and Science days.  We read living books which bring these subjects to life.  The subject material is delightful – my children love to listen and learn! They do oral narrations and write short narrations in our minibooks or on notebooking pages.


  • Don’t allow dawdling to even start

Charlotte Masson’s methods of short lessons force the child to attend well and complete the work quickly.

We move on to the next subject and start straight away.  Many homeschoolers have found workboxes help train their children in independent learning.  Others print out their lesson trackers or, as we do, use a daily timetable.  The child sees what to do next and moves on independently.

Any unfinished work will be completed after lunch during “free time”.  Free time is the child’s reward.  Dawdling steals from their free time.

  • Value of narration

When the child listens to a reading and knows that mom will ask for a narration (re-telling or telling back), the child must train herself to listen attentively.  This skill is instilled when the reading period is followed by oral or written narrations.  We must train our children to stay focused.

If a child is unsure of their narration, it shows that perhaps they were inattentive.

I have found that starting the narration is difficult for some children.  There are many narration starters; questions, points of reference, that moms can offer which helps the child to start with more confidence.

A mom can offer too much help and advice.  A child succeeds by focusing their own attention – this is a great motivator.

Miss. Mason suggests that the child must be trained in self-education.

“We need not labour to get children to learn their lessons …

Let the lessons be of the right sort and children will learn them with delight.”

(Reference: Charlotte Mason Study Guide by Penny Gardner, pg 63.)

What works for you?


2 thoughts on “Charlotte Mason on The Habit of Attention

  1. Hello Nadene, Followed you from Twitter. I am a retired teacher and I have always been interested in what goes on in Homeschool sessions. I found your post very interesting. Your children are fortunate to have a well organized mom who strives to instill in them many values as well as an education. Lorna

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