Charlotte Mason for a struggling child?

Recently a reader asked me ~  

“I am just learning about CM.  I am wondering if her methods would work well for a child that is 12 yrs old but academically functioning around 7 yrs of age?”

I felt an immediate “YES!” in my heart and here are some of the reasons I wrote to her:

As a veteran homeschooler with a homeschool graduate,  I want to assure you that Charlotte Mason’s methods work with any person at any age.  More importantly, it is a wonderful approach which will encourage any student who may not cope in the traditional schooling systems and academic approaches, or who is “behind”.Paper Sloyd1

Firstly, homeschooling allows you to tailor everything to suit your child. Your approach, timing, physical space and especially the actual learning content can be perfectly chosen to match your child’s learning style and ability. Many children who “failed” grades or simply “fell through the cracks” in public schools need to rediscover their love to learn.

  • Charlotte Mason’s principles of short lessons, reading living books, going on daily nature walks and providing a rich immersion in fine arts provides a despondent student (and parent) daily opportunities to rediscover the joy of learning.
  • Select a really fabulous read aloud and just begin with a story that captivates your child’s interest.  In Charlotte Mason’s words, use living books.  Instead of relying on tedious textbooks, read a good book. Listening to a read aloud is a marvelous relief to a child who struggles academically.  Living books stimulate previously bored and uninspired children.  Start this miracle transformation by reading aloud chapters of a carefully selected living book, and watch as your child, gripped by the story, asks you to “please keep on reading!”
  • Then gently ask them to narrate / tell back what they heard and develop careful and attentive listening.  Narrations are brilliant!  They are more effective than any worksheet, test or exam.  A child can only tell back what they understand.  The child should aim to restate the reading in accurate detail.  Gently encourage the child who battles.  Some struggle to start their narration, others battle to recall enough facts.  If so, call for narrations after reading a paragraph rather than a chapter.  Be firm about narrations after a single reading.  Also, mom, try not to interrupt, correct, prompt or question.
  • More importantly, narrations help develop a child’s vocabulary and improve the child’s writing skills.  They ‘borrow’ the author’s style! Encourage your child to present their own ideas in clear and descriptive ways.  Start with quick, simple oral narrations.  Gradually aim towards dictated, then typed or written narrations.  Very young children can simply illustrate their narrations.
  • As Ms Mason encouraged, keep all your maths, spelling, language art lessons and handwriting lessons short and sweet, but encourage your child to work at his/ her very best.
  • Gradually add other subjects, lessons, ideas to eventually create a rich and wonderful education.
  • Because Charlotte Mason focused on building good habits and developing character in the child, her principles work with children of every age and stage.  Some of her principles I only implemented years later in our homeschool journey; things that I should have done from the start, but which I only found the courage to do as I continued to read her advice. Even when we started “late” Charlotte Mason’s habit training approach produced excellent qualities in my children’s character.

I suggest you continue to read books and blogs and my CM page to discover where to start and how to gently phase in the skills, habits and principles.

Personally, my youngest child would most probably have struggled at public school. Here are home, using Charlotte Mason’s principles, she has thrived and blossomed at her own pace and in her own unique way.  I am so grateful to Charlotte Mason’s “gentle education“.

All the very best as you also learn and grow with Charlotte Mason!

With blessings,


8 thoughts on “Charlotte Mason for a struggling child?

  1. Pingback: Narration Notecards & Word Banks | Practical Pages

    • @Phyllis at All Things Beautiful, I am so grateful to have found a way of educating and training my children that is so rich, so right,yet to suited to each child! Blessings!


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