Charlotte Mason

I love Charlotte Mason’s approach, her principles and philosophies.  While I’m not a CM purist, I applied many of her principles, wisdom and approaches in our homeschooling; developing and deepening our application as both I and my children matured over the years.

Who was Charlotte Mason?

Charlotte Mason was a teacher and education lecturer in England in the late 1800s.  She wrote detailed volumes,  The Original Home Education Series, which inspired parents who sought to give their children the best education possible.  Her educational philosophies and teachings were so well received that she established the Parents National Union (PNEU).  They set up branches up in many major towns and cities.  A monthly magazine called “The Parents Review, which Miss. Masons edited, was circulated.  Charlotte Mason founded her college in Ambleside, England in 1892.  Her educational writings have continued her movement among modern homeschoolers.

What is a Charlotte Mason education?

A Charlotte Mason education is not a curriculum, but many of us apply her education principles to most homeschool classical or literature-based curriculums and those with a strong history and fine arts emphasis curriculums.  Charlotte Mason purists follow her educational principles, her daily schedules, subjects, book lists and methods precisely as she recommended.  You can find these free at Ambleside Online.

Essentially she focused on using Living Books to teach rather than using textbooks.  Her methods cultivated the child focus for careful & attentive listening followed by their narrations. She included several disciplines such as Copywork, and detailed observations in Nature Study, Famous Artworks and Classical music appreciation.  She promoted excellence through good habits and held high standards in all the academic subjects such as Language, Spelling, Mathematics, foreign language and Geography.

Here are several general Charlotte Mason Education posts ~

Where to begin?

I would suggest you read some of the wonderful Charlotte Mason books I listed on my Book List.  You can read all Charlotte Mason’s original writings or online free.

Below are some of my Charlotte Mason’s posts under notable Charlotte Mason themes ~

Living Books

Chose great books, classics, with full-bodied characters and engaging, informative style, stories that change lives and live in hearts and minds. Read these aloud daily to your children and let them narrate back (re-tell you) the story.  Here are some posts:


Narrations are the cornerstone of a Charlotte Mason education.  Rather than workbooks, tests, enrichment exercises, children need to listen and remember as many details, facts or information from the material just read.  Children must pay close attention while they listen to the story so that they can make it their own and express what they remember and understood as they narrate.  (Oral narrations first, then dictated and finally at about 10 years, children start to write their own narrations themselves.)

Copywork & Language Arts

Copywork is a simple, yet effective method to ensure children learn to write well.  This is useful for both handwriting lessons, as well as learning and memorizing great thoughts, developing a rich vocabulary, improving spelling and deepening an appreciation of good literature.  We often used the same copywork passages for Language Arts exercises.  This effective method replaces any need for tedious grammar lessons.


Charlotte Mason emphasized short lessons.  These highly concentrated “3R’s” lessons, lasting only 10 to 15 minutes encourages excellence and diligence.  All my children learnt their handwriting using my laminated handwriting charts. With quick, simple lessons, children master the letter formation.  We then quickly progress to copywork which reinforces handwriting lessons in a meaningful way without any handwriting programs.

Nature Study

A typical Charlotte Mason education encourages regular, weekly nature walks.  Children are encouraged to explore, make detailed observations, journal and delight themselves in the beauty of nature.

Picture Study and Music Appreciation

Typical Charlotte Mason schedule features the study of one famous composer and a famous artist and his/her works for a month.  Each week we review the person’s biography and appreciate a new masterpiece or a musical piece.

Hymn Study

Just as you study a composer and an artist per month, add a hymn study, focusing on one hymn once a week over a month.  This included a background on the author as well as to understand, memorise and enjoy the words of these faith-building hymns.

Scripture Memory System

Found at Simply Charlotte Mason‘s website, a free download, this simple, yet highly effective, systematic Scripture Memory System, easily allows you to add new verses and revise previously studied Bible memory verses regularly.

Book of Centuries and Timelines

Charlotte Mason encouraged the habit of using Timelines or Book of Centuries as a weekly practice.  As your child studies history, artists and composers, add details, pictures and illustrations to a timeline or Book of Centuries.


Miss. Mason contributed a series of books on the Geography of England and emphasized skills and interest in map work and detailed geographical observations.

Foreign Language the CM Way

Teaching and learning a foreign language using Charlotte Mason’s approach.

The Atmosphere of Home

Free Play

Kate picking wild flowersMost Charlotte Mason’s students enjoyed free time in the afternoons, playing outdoors, doing crafts, handiwork and hobbies.  Not only were children to have this freedom, but mothers too were encouraged to be natural, flexible, free and enjoy picnics, be outside, discover “masterly inactivity”.

Training, discipline and motivation

Miss. Mason’s wisdom in child training and discipline is awesome.  Her writings about developing good habits are especially inspiring.

Mother Culture” for mom

One of the best Charlotte Mason influences in homeschooling is her encouragement of moms.  She urges mothers to join her children in their nature walks, fine arts, keeping a Book of Firsts and reading good literature.  It is a gracious and generous lifestyle of learning and growing.   Read these posts:

Our Typical CM-inspired Homeschool day

Although these posts are not strictly CM posts, they show how we try to carry out her principles and methods.  I felt I should include these posts to encourage new moms and those who are shifting over to Charlotte Mason.

Charlotte Mason blog carnivals:

These carnivals share many Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool posts:

Here are a few excellent resourceful posts to inspire:

Links to some of my favourite Charlotte Mason blogs and sites:

If you wish to ask for advice, comment privately or make a suggestion, please feel free to write on the contact form on About Me page, I will respond to your private e-mail ASAP 🙂

Blessings, Nadene


8 thoughts on “Charlotte Mason

  1. thank you very much for all this input. I have never heard of Charlotte Mason, and I doubt many have over here in England. I shall read with pleasure her “curriculum” and ideas.
    many thanks


  2. Thanks for all this information, it’s great i’m interested in starting home educating my children in this way. I’m a TA and am finding it difficult to switch out of school mode! I wanted to look at the book list but the link didn’t work?


    • @littleroo24, Charlotte Mason spoke to my heart as I read about her approach in my early days of homeschooling! As I have continued reading and learning about Charlotte Mason’s principles, I have grown enormously as a person and a teacher. I think that if I had to return to formal school teaching again (just hypothetical, but one never says “never”), I would not be able to teach in the same way I had before my CM understanding.
      I have fixed the broken Book List link – thanks for your ‘heads-up’!
      Blessings on your homeschooling journey.


  3. Pingback: A New Charlotte Mason Page « Practical Pages

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