Charlotte Mason for the Daft (and a book give-away)

At the Book Store

I’ve been toying with Charlotte Mason for nearly a decade. I’ve “known” about her methods for longer than that. I have never been able to totally put myself in the Charlotte Mason box, though, even after becoming a bona fide veteran homeschool mom with a homeschool high school graduate attending college. In hopes that I can one day grow up and become a REAL CM Homeschool mom (even old dogs can learn new tricks, right?), I aim to post a little about her methods and how we are incorporating them every week or so.

Everyone knows that teaching things yourself solidifies the subject matter in your brain. Teaching is learning to remember forever. I’m hoping that by researching and sharing each week, I’ll be pushing my homeschooling techniques off the “eclectic” fence and more into Charlotte Mason’s bonny green English gardens.

My favorite CM quote:

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.”

Education is everything – all of your life you are learning. Even when you aren’t doing something guided, you are learning. God created us all to learn and grow. I think a lot of us fall down on the discipline part – because let’s face it… it isn’t easy to force yourself to do things you don’t WANT to, but know you NEED to. I love how she put duty right in there with learning in such a tiny quote. We do have a duty to learn the hard stuff. We have a duty to our creator to be a good steward with our lives.

To start off this awesome “CM Series” adventure, I want to share a book from one of my very favorite Charlotte Mason mentors: Catherine Levison. In case you don’t know who she is, she has written quite a few books about the Charlotte Mason methods and how to practically use them with your homeschool students. What I love most about her – there’s so much to love – is that she advocates for people like me by saying : “Doing a little CM is better than doing none!” I love that she’s an encourager, rather than a legalist. I love reading through her messages on the Charlotte Mason Yahoo Email group and gleaning from her wisdom.

I’ve already finished reading her first book and I’ll be going back through it to jot down some of my favorite quotes and tidbits of wisdom for an additional post. She’s agreed to appear on the blog also, in the form of an interview or guest post, so you can get to know her better. We will do that some time in February to share the “love” for all her hard work in bringing Charlotte Mason to the masses with her efforts.

Here’s the book I’m giving away –

Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison

Leave a comment here on this post to be entered for the give-away. You can get an extra entry for each comment you make that proves you shared on some social media platform (include link so I can check). I’ll announce the winner on the 14th! If you don’t want to wait to win the book, by all means, click the book image and purchase one on Amazon (I’m an affiliate on Amazon). This book is a must-have for a busy CM mom who may not have time to read through the lengthy Charlotte Mason original series (truth be known, I haven’t read them).

If you are new to homeschooling or don’t know who Charlotte Mason is, she was an educator in England at the turn of the twentieth century. She believed that all children, regardless of social status or class deserved a robust education based upon ‘living ideas’. She wrote extensively about education and her methods are still being used today, not just by homeschooling families, but by everyone who envisions a rich, literature-based education that is full of art, music, nature study, and good life-long habits. There is simply so much to love about her philosophies!

Her principles for educating in a nut shell – with my own flair as I understand them (you can read them in her own words here at the Ambleside Online site):

1. Children are born persons – individuals worthy of respect and with their own identity, personality, bent and giftings from the Lord.
2. Children are born with the ability to do good and/or bad – free will.
3. Authority and obedience are God’s design – fundamentally needed for society and individuals
4. Authority over children should not be used to abuse them, or manipulate them – education should be a process of encouraging a child to think for themselves
5. A teacher should focus on the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of living ideas to help children learn best
6. The atmosphere of learning is the child’s natural home, community and the world around them: there is no need to dumb down learning to a “child’s level”
7. The discipline of learning are the habits formed (of mind and body) – which should be formed thoughtfully, and purposefully
8. “Education is a life,” indicates the substance of education: all of life – because the ‘mind feeds on ideas’, children should have ‘a generous curriculum’
9. A child’s mind is not just a pail to fill with ideas; but rather, a spiritual creature with an appetite for all knowledge and wisdom. This is what a teacher should seek to expose a child to, and encourage them to grow in.
10. The teacher is not the most important part of education, but merely a guide and helper. The teacher should understand that “what a child learns matters less than how he learns it.
11. We trust God has given a child the ability to learn, believe, and form an opinion on his own. The teacher should not use their own prejudice in guiding him.
12. Charlotte Mason said that “Education is the Science of Relations” – we form our own relation to all the things we are exposed to. The child will have his own thoughts on physical exercise, nature, art, science, and living books – and we know our business is not to “teach”, but to allow the child to form a relationship with the things they are exposed to.
13. The three points for creating an educational syllabus for a child are as follows: (a) He needs a rich diet of knowledge (b) The knowledge should be varied to increase appetite and curiosity (c) The knowledge should be communicated in quality literary language (not dumbed down for a child)
14. A good learning program includes narration: telling the story back and writing the story by memory will solidify the knowledge a child learns
15. To grow a child’s ability to focus attention, only one reading should be done. Reading the same story repeatedly makes a child’s mind lazy and weakens focus. (“A child educated in this manner, regardless of IQ, background, or social status, learns more than the child who is educated in another manner.”)
16. Children have two guides for morality: will and reason
17. WILL explained: Children must learn (a) the difference between their wants and their responsibilities (b) how to train their thoughts away from wrong desires (c) how to redirect themselves to something completely different to interest, entertain and occupy our thoughts (d) afterwards their mind will be refreshed they will have trained it to be able to do good (1 Corinthians 10:5)
18. REASON explained : We teach children not to lean upon their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). “Reasoning is good for logical demonstrations such as mathematical truths, but being “overly-confident on our own imperfect ability to reason an idea can lead to us justifying an action, behavior or idea even though it is not a good one”.
19. A child is personally responsible for the acceptance or rejection of ideas. “To help them, we give them principles of conduct and knowledge suited to them. These principles should serve as a protection from loose conduct and heedless actions.”
20. There’s no separation of intellectual and spiritual education – we educate the whole child, mind – body – soul. There’s no such thing as a secular vs. spiritual life.

I used a few other resources in helping form my own rendition of these paraphrased principles. Here are a few links:
1. Michelle Canon’s modern translation
2. A Charlotte Mason Home
3. Simply Charlotte Mason

I look forward to delving in to CM with you. I’d love to hear from you if you are a CM lover, CM wanna-be, or even a “Proper Charlotte Mason Educator”. Go easy on me, but I’d love to have your tips and links! I might include some of them in my series as I homeschool myself!


  1. Ramona Horton says

    My comment / entry is for my daughter who homeschools her two…..using CM ideas….
    She is amazing …. her daughter 5 and son 3 are too!!!!

  2. says

    I’ve read a little about Charlotte Mason, and would love to learn more in the practical sense. Thanks for hosting a give away.

  3. alissa Allen says

    I love the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. We use some of her ideas in our own homeschool.