Charlotte Mason

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The "Charlotte Mason method" of home education/ homeschooling is one of the most popular methods in the US, but Charlotte Mason was in fact a Brit and greatly influenced primary education in this country for the better in the early part of the 20th century, but her timeless philosophy and educational methods are just beginning to be rediscovered here.

Probably the main tenet of her philosophy is:

The child is a person! (With a mind and feelings worthy of respect etc.) This was revolutionary in the Victorian era of course, but despite our day's alleged 'child-centered' outlook, we seem to have forgotten this crucial fact. The respect due to a child and his mind should be reflected in the quality of ideas we present to him.

A Charlotte Mason education includes:

  • Reading "Living books" (not 'twaddle' and textbooks!) see below
  • Life experiences (not contrived classroom situations)
  • Nature-walks, and encourage a growing relationship between the child and the natural world (and, since Charlotte Mason wrote as a Christian, ultimately to develop a relationship with the Creator)
  • Exposure to the very best elements of Culture we have to offer, including great Literature (including early exposure to Shakespeare, the Bible, and Greek mythology, etc.), Fine Arts, Classical music etc., again allowing the child to develop 'relationships' directly with the minds of the authors/ composers/ artists etc. and not allowing ideas to be pre-digested and abridged or filtered through our or a teacher's understanding and brought down to what we see to be a child's level (as textbooks usually are).
  • (Oral) Narration - similar to 'comprehension questions': the child tells back in his own words his understanding of the ideas presented to him
  • Short lessons, generally even as short as 15 minutes per subject
  • Afternoons free for outdoor play, climbing trees etc!

Useful links An online network for home educators using or interested in the Charlotte Mason method.
Introductory article from Wikipedia
Here is a good place to start reading about Charlotte Mason and the Charlotte Mason method
Another nice introduction to CM
Free online literature-based curriculum based on an understanding of Charlotte Mason's philosophy Charlotte's orgiginal 6-volume set of writings are available for free download here.
the original PNEU (Parents' National Education Union) curriculum
organisation led by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, author of "For the Children's Sake" - the book which led to the rediscovery of the CM philosophy

From Wonder to Wisdom
CM articles and free books

Living Books curriculum
literature-rich curriculum using CM method

Simply Charlotte Mason
Curriculum with some free helps

Sonlight curriculum
literature-based curriculum

Tanglewood curriculum
mixture of CM and Classical education

Karen Andreola's, The Charlotte Mason Research & Supply Co.
Karen Andreola re-published Charlotte Mason's 6-volume set and is the author of "The Charlotte Mason Companion" which is an excellent introduction to using the Charlotte Mason method for home education.

Books to Read

Charlotte Mason’s 6-volume set of original writings, re-printed under the titled of “The Original Homeschooling Series” (and individually as: vol. 1 – “Home Education”, vol.2 “Parents and Children”, vol.3 “School Education”, vol.4 “Ourselves” and vol.5 “Formation of Character, and vol.6 “A Philosophy of Education”, published by Tyndale House, available from / and second-hand through most internet booksellers. These volumes are also available as downloadable documents: in their original forms, in modern English, and as shortened précis versions at

Essex Cholmondley – a biography of Charlotte Mason (title?) out of print and not easily available as far as I know. Perhaps we ought to lobby the publisher to re-print?

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay – “For the Children’s Sake”, published by Crossway Books ISBN 0-89107-290-X
This is the first book I read about Charlotte Mason, and it was this book which led me to Homeschool in the first place. Highly recommended.

Karen Andreola – “A Charlotte Mason Companion” (details to follow)
This is a brilliant breaking down of the Charlotte Mason method into subject areas, all explained in a very encouraging way. Does suffer severely from Victorianese Disease, but otherwise highly recommended!

Cindy Rushton – “A Charlotte Mason Primer” (now only available as an e-book download from )
This is a friendly discussion of how Cindy implements Charlotte Mason principles in her Homeschool.

Penny Gardner – “Charlotte Mason Study Guide: A Simplified Approach to a “Living” Education”,
from what I can make out, this is a ‘self-print’ i.e., not published by a publishing company (though I may well have completely got the wrong impression), and so is only available direct from Penny herself, either through or second-hand from internet booksellers. ISBN 1-57636-039-3
I’m just reading through this one right now. It is a rather more serious study-guide to Charlotte’s writings.

Catherine Levison – A Charlotte Mason Education: A How-to Manual

Catherine Levision – More Charlotte Mason Education: A How-to Manual

Catherine Levison - "A Literary Education"
20 used copies available at

Elaine Cooper - "When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today"
40 used copies available at

Catherine Levision has also produced audio tapes from workshops she ran at Homeschool conferences, entitled:

  • “Language Arts for Almost free”,
  • “To Structure or Not to Structure”,
  • “An Overview of the Charlotte Mason Method” and
  • “Science and History the Charlotte Mason Way”.

Don’t take my word for the titles, I need to double-check them. I found them on watch out for unbelievably exorbitant shipping costs.