Who was Charlotte Mason anyway? And what is this Charlotte Mason Homeschool Approach all about?
More and more you are probably hearing about Charlotte Mason within the homeschooling circles.
I confess that when I first started homeschooling I had no idea there were even different approaches to homeschooling. Can you relate to it too? I thought homeschooling was just imitating public school at home. Surely that was the only way to do it because it was the only way I knew.
It wasn’t until 3 years into homeschooling that I began to read more and educating myself about other methods of education. It was then that I heard about Ms. Mason and her philosophy of education. Little did I know that I was in fact following some of her principles through our Sonlight Curriculum.
So, who was Charlotte Mason?
Ms. Mason was an innovator in education who believed that living books and real-life experience were the best forms of education. Her work included a feast of ideas to help children receive a well-rounded education.
In 1887 she founded the Parent’s National Education Union to support teachers, schools, and parents who wanted to adopt her principles of education.
Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature. ― Charlotte M. Mason
Ms. Mason has taught me to be my children’s facilitator. She taught me to inspire them to read and allow their curiosity to cause them to learn independently as much as alongside me.
So what is exactly this Charlotte Mason homeschool philosophy we hear so much about?
Here is a short and great explanation I found at Simply Charlotte Mason, one of the most popular websites for a Charlotte Mason inspired education and resources.
The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte‘s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”
Education is more than just academics. Just as a child is made of a body, soul, spirit, and mind, we must educate her as a whole, not just in part. Education involves parenting, character training, and discipleship.
Although Ms. Mason had no children of her own, she had a true passion for teaching children and giving them a well-rounded experience of learning. She knew that children love to learn and need a supportive environment to do so and she built her methods around these principles.
Here’s a look at what Charlotte Mason believed to be the best foundation of a full and inspiring education:
In order to practice handwriting, spelling, and grammar, Ms. Mason believed it was important to keep a notebook for copying down poetry, prose, scripture, and quotes daily.
Charlotte Mason taught that a child learns grammar (capitalization, punctuation, spelling, etc.) best by doing copywork – that is copying over selections from fine literature into a notebook. The child is forced to pay attention to the details of writing, and corrects his work when through, by comparing it to the original (taken from Queenhomeschool.com).
We use NotebookingPages.com for copywork and handwriting.
Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education. A creative fiat calls it forth. ‘Let him narrate’; and the child narrates, fluently, copiously, in ordered sequence, with fit and graphic details, with a just choice of words, without verbosity or tautology, so soon as he can speak with ease. This amazing gift with which normal children are born is allowed to lie fallow in their education. – Charlotte Mason Volume 1, page 231
Narration is a great way to ensure that children understand the information they are learning. It’s the process of having the students repeat back in their own words what they have learned from a lesson or a book.
Children narrate by nature. When we read great stories they are more likely to remember these stories and enthusiastically retell it to others.
As they get older and develop better writing skills, children can also write their narrations. Narrations can also include creative outlets such as painting or drawing.
And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children. — Charlotte Mason
Living books are an alternative to boring textbooks. They include fiction and non-fiction literature written by an author with a talent for bringing the story alive and engaging children’s ideas and imagination so they are able to better understand and retain the information they learn.
Ms. Mason had a strong belief that children should explore God’s creation and spend time outdoors to develop a better education. She encouraged them to keep nature journals in order to discover and identify plants and wildlife. She also encouraged writing poetry, detailed descriptions, and even notes about the weather in these journals.
I highly recommend you visit Handbook of Nature Study and sign up for their Outdoor Hour Challenge Newsletter. It’s free and jam-packed with information.’
We love using NotebookingPages.com for Nature Studies.
And we absolutely love using Exploring Nature with Children year round!
Art appreciation was another important aspect of Ms. Mason’s program. Her recommendation was to work with one artist at a time for a few days and allow the student to look at the painting then take it away and have them narrate back from memory what they saw. Then continue this process for several days with the same painting and watch how the student’s understanding expands as they continue to look at it and discuss it.
The singing of hymns at home and of the hymns and canticles in church should be a special delight. —Charlotte Mason
Ms. Mason believed that appreciation for life could come from music. For the study of hymns, she recommended teaching one hymn at a time until students learn every verse by memory, usually working on one hymn per week.
I love this Hymn Study plan from Simply Charlotte Mason and also their Singing the Great Hymns curriculum. We enjoy Hymn Study in the morning along with our Morning Basket.
Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn StoriesThen Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories: Book 2 (BK 2)Then Sings My Soul Book 3: The Story of Our Songs: Drawing Strength from the Great Hymns of Our Faith (Then Sings My Soul (Thomas Nelson))Hymns for a Kid’s Heart, Vol. 1Hymns for Kids: Learn How to Read and Enjoy Christian Hymns (Psalms and Praise Choruses, Too!)The Stories of HymnsBe Still, My Soul: The Inspiring Stories behind 175 of the Most-Loved Hymns
The work of Shakespeare helps to develop language arts through poetry. Ms. Mason wanted students to have wonderful use of words and vocabulary and believed that poetry is the best of literature. She introduced students to poetry through Shakespeare by reading plays, then reading specific lines from the play in Shakespeare’s words and asking students to narrate back in their own words what they believed Shakespeare was saying.
I confess that for as much as I wanted to introduce my children to Shakespeare, I didn’t know where to begin until I enrolled myself in 10 Weeks of Shakespeare. This course is wonderful and it gives confidence and the resources to teach your children from Kindergarten to High School.
Learning a new language should be approached in the same way that we learn our own, hearing it and speaking it first, then learning to read and write it. Have students say a series of statements, such as “I pick up the book. I open the book.”, while performing the action. By performing everyday activities with the new language, students begin to think in the new language.
The habits of the child produce the character of the man. – Charlotte Mason
Ms. Mason considered the formation of habits in a child a mother’s habit. Habit formation is an important part of a Charlotte Mason homeschool approach. Charlotte Mason describes training habits as laying down the rails. What a wonderful picture in a mother’s mind as she focuses on teaching her children good habits and trains them the way they should go as the Bible commands us.
My favorite resource for habits training it’s called Laying Down the Rails from Simply Charlotte Mason. I do recommend the full bundle that comes with a workshop DVD on habits formation taught by Sonya Shafer.
To get started with the Charlotte Mason Method, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the methods. It is not about a set curriculum, but more about a group of methods you can teach using a variety of resources.
Where to Find Great Resources and Curricula for a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Approach:
- Ambleside Online
- Simply Charlotte Mason
- A Gentle Feast
- My Father’s World
- Sonlight Curriculum
- Truth Quest History
- Beautiful Feet Books
- Living Books Curriculum
- Brookdale House
- Queen Homeschool
- Math Lessons for a Living Education
- Loving Living Math
- Our Journey Westward
- Northwood Press (Canadian Living Books)
- Learning House Canada
To find the best resources to get you started and support your educational journey, be sure to also visit Simply Charlotte Mason, Amazon, and Christianbook.com for tools, guides, journals, living books and more.
Favorite Charlotte Mason Homeschool Books:
Some of the best books for learning the Charlotte Mason Homeschool Approach include:
- A Charlotte Mason Companion
- For The Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
- A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual
-> Check out also my big list of homeschool book recommendations.
Charlotte Mason Homeschool Focused Podcasts
Check out our brand new podcast: The Charlotte Mason Inspired Podcast!
If you enjoy listening to Podcasts, as I do, some of the best I’ve found include:
- Charlotte Mason Inspired
- A Delectable Education
- Charlotte Mason Show
- The Mason Jar
- Simply Charlotte Mason
- A Charlotte Mason Education
- Charlotte Mason Says
- Charlotte Mason Poetry
Other Blog Posts About a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Education
- Our Unhurried Charlotte Mason Homeschool Approach
- Our Relaxed, Restful & All About Charlotte Mason Homeschool
- An Organic Charlotte Mason Homeschool
- Charlotte Mason Tidal School
- A Modern Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
- Modern Secular Charlotte Mason
- A Second Generation Homeschooling Family
- From Public School to Homeschool Charlotte Mason’s Way
- Our First Year of Homeschool: Approach, Routine & Curriculum.
- Reflections As We Near The End Of Our Homeschooling Journey
- It’s a Wabi Wonderful Life
- Cultivating a Life of Order and Wonder
- Charlotte Mason How-To
- An Organic Charlotte Mason Homeschool
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Charlotte Mason Homeschool Books
For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and SchoolWhen Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for TodayA Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of LearningMother Culture ®: For a Happy HomeschoolPocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning : A Story for Mother CultureIn Vital Harmony: Charlotte Mason and the Natural Laws of EducationThe Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte MasonA Philosophy of Education: Annotated EditionIn Memoriam: A Tribute to Charlotte MasonConsider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical TraditionStart Here: A Journey Through Charlotte Mason’s 20 PrinciplesLaying down the Rails : A Charlotte Mason Habits HandbookCharlotte Mason’s Original Home Schooling SeriesThe Story of Charlotte MasonBook of Centuries A Timeline book of World History Timeline Notebook A Blank Time Line from 5000 BC to the PresentHomeschool History Book of Centuries: A Portable Timeline for Charlotte Mason and Classical Education Students (Rethink Schooling) (Volume 1)A Charlotte Mason Book of CenturiesThe Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte MasonThe British Empire and the Great Divisions of the Globe: Geographical Reader Book 2Ideas and Books: The Means of Education (Charlotte Mason Topics) (Volume 3)Home Education: Training and Educating Children Under NineThe Original Home School SeriesGreat Literature Copywork: Practice Cursive Handwriting with Excerpts from the Great Books (Classic Copywork: Cursive) (Volume 1)Know and Tell: The Art of NarrationCopywork Cursive Handwriting Practice Workbook For teens and adults – Small college lined font Proverbs from around the World.: 100 Proverbs from … handwriting practice Read, trace and writeNature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural WorldMinds More Awake: The Vision of Charlotte MasonMcGuffey First Eclectic Reader 1857: With Instructions for Use with Charlotte Mason Teaching Methods (McGuffey’s New Eclectic Readers) (Volume 1)Simply Charlotte Mason – All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar on DVD & Seminar BookA Twaddle-Free Education: An Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational IdeasCharlotte Mason Wall Decal – I AM I CAN I OUGHT I WILL – Religious Wall Decorations – Vinyl Wall Decal for Home Decor, HomeSchool or Church Decoration.McGuffey Third Eclectic Reader 1857: With Instructions for Use with Charlotte Mason Teaching Methods (McGuffey’s New Eclectic Readers) (Volume 3)Charlotte Mason Lesson Planner: Homeschooling Daily Plan and Schedule NotebookIdeas and Books: The Method of Education (Charlotte Mason Topics Book 3)The Saviour of the World – Vol. 1: The Holy Infancy (Volume 1)More Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To ManualCharlotte Mason’s Parents and Children (Home Education Series)School Education (The Home Education Series) (Volume 3)Ourselves (The Home Education Series) (Volume 4)Parents and Children (The Home Education Series) (Volume 2)A Philosophy of Education (The Home Education Series)Home Education (The Home Education Series) (Volume 1)Formation of Character (The Home Education Series) (Volume 5)A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To ManualHabits: The Mother’s Secret to Success (Charlotte Mason Topics) (Volume 1)A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular HomeschoolingCopywork: A workbook collection of Aesop’s Fables for Children: Grades 1-4 Aesop’s Fables with dotted line copywork pages for handwriting practiceThe Outdoor Life of Children: The Importance of Nature Study and Outside Activities (Charlotte Mason Topics) (Volume 2)Elementary GeographyHome Education: Volume I of Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling SeriesThe Charlotte Mason Homeschool Journal: & Delight Directed Learning Handbook (Homeschooling Journal) (Volume 11)Picturing the Past – Charlotte Mason Homeschooling: Study of Art & History – 180 Day Picture Study Journal Includes 90 Notable Paintings Dated 1700-1930 – Ages 7 to 17Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling SeriesHome Education in Modern English: Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason’s SeriesCharlotte Mason’s Home Education (Home Education Series)Nature Study & Outdoor Science Journal: The Thinking Tree Presents: A Creative Book of Observation, Drawing, Coloring, Writing & Discovery Through Nature – Fun-Schooling for All AgesAesop for Children: Story and D’Nealian Copybook Volume I (Aesop for Children Story and Copybook) (Volume 1)Charlotte Mason Math: Level A (Volume 1)Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves (Home Education Series)Copywork Quotes from Influential Americans Words of Wisdom from USA History: Single-line copywork pages for handwriting practiceCharlotte Mason’s School Education (Home Education Series)Home Geography for Primary GradesMath Notebook: 1/2 Inch Squares Graph Paper Composition Notebook for StudentsThe Aesop for Children: Story and D’Nealian Copwork Book, Volume II (The Aesop for Children, Story and D’Nealian Copywork Book) (Volume 2)Ourselves the fight for mansoulOutdoor GeographyTowards a Philosophy of Education in Modern English: Volume 6 of Charlotte Mason’s Series