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Charlotte Mason Homeschool Method

Who is Charlotte Mason and How Can You Use the Charlotte Mason Approach in Your Homeschool?

Charlotte Mason Homeschool
By Mindy Scirri, Ph.D.

The Charlotte Mason approach is founded on 20 principles that bring with them a whole new vocabulary. You may have heard about “living books” or “narration” or “copywork,” but you may not know the details about this popular homeschooling method. It is based on living books—texts that are truly enjoyable and stimulating and not “twaddle”—which are explored through verbal narration (or retelling) or written narration in the older grades. Copywork, which begins with handwriting, and dictation become the basis for spelling and language arts, which then connects subject areas like math, science, history, and geography. Nature is valued and captured through nature journals, and art and music are truly appreciated. The Charlotte Mason method, though traditionally associated with Christian homeschooling, can also be the basis for your secular homeschool. Find out more here!



What is a Christian Charlotte Mason Approach?

What is a Secular Charlotte Mason Homeschool?

Benefits of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Tips for Teaching Charlotte Mason at Home  

Support for Families Using the Charlotte Mason Method at Home

*This post contains affiliate links. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission. Although many of the resources listed here are free, those marked with a $ have a cost or require a fee/subscription in order to access the full range of materials.


What is a Christian Charlotte Mason Approach?

Who is Charlotte Mason? Charlotte Mason was a devout Christian who infused her religious beliefs into her philosophy of education. Because of this, many traditional Charlotte Mason books, materials, and resources have a decidedly Christian flair. Many Christian homeschoolers choose the Charlotte Mason method because of its religious underpinnings and follow the principles and techniques as they were originally proposed. Here are some resources related specifically to Charlotte Mason Christian homeschooling:

A Charlotte Mason Home | Deborah Taylor-Hough
This website is dedicated to the educational philosophies of Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the last century. Her methods and philosophies have recently experienced a resurgence, especially among American homeschooling families. Mason’s emphasis on children developing a lifetime love of learning was in stark contrast to the nearly anti-child climate of her time period. The mission of A Charlotte Mason Home is to bring Charlotte Mason’s ideals and methods to modern families.” Find blogs, books, information, and how to’s for making your Charlotte Mason home. Check out the Charlotte Mason Home Education Facebook page, too.

Charlotte Mason Study Guide $
By Penny Gardner (Author)
The Charlotte Mason Study Guide is an introduction to Miss Mason’s philosophy of education. It contains hundreds of excerpts from Charlotte Mason‘s six-volume set along with current writings on how to apply this philosophy in home schools and classrooms. This book stands on its own or may be used as a study guide to Charlotte Mason‘s series.”

Mother Culture & The Gentle Art of Learning
“The assortment of articles you will find here are a complement to my books: Mother Culture – for a Happy Homeschool, and A Charlotte Mason Companion.  “This is an archived collection of blogs from Karen Andreola.”

And if you want to read the words of Charlotte Mason directly….

Charlotte Mason’s Original Home Schooling Series $
By Charlotte Mason (Author)
“Here in one affordable volume is her complete Homeschooling Series: Home Education: Six lectures by Charlotte Mason about the raising and educating of young children (up to the age of nine), for parents and teachers. She details how lessons in various school subjects can be done using her approach. She concludes with remarks about the Will, the Conscience, and the Divine Life in the Child. Parents and Children: A collection of 26 articles from the original Parent’s Review magazines to encourage and instruct parents. School Education: Thoughts about the teaching and curriculum of children aged 9-12, either at school or at home. Ourselves: A character curriculum book written directly to children. Book I, Self-Knowledge, is for elementary school students; Book II, Self-Direction, is for older students. Formation of Character: Includes case studies of children (and adults) who cured themselves of bad habits; reflections on subjects including both schooling and vacations (or “stay-cations” as we now call them); various aspects of home schooling, with a special section detailing the things that Charlotte Mason thought were important to teach to girls in particular; and examples of how education affected outcome of character in famous writers of her day. Towards a Philosophy of Education: Charlotte Mason’s final book, written after years of seeing her approach in action. This volume gives the best overview of her philosophy, and includes the final version of her 20 Principles. This book is particularly directed to parents of older children, about ages 12 and up, but is a valuable overview for parents of younger children as well, covering both theory and practice.”


What is a Secular Charlotte Mason Homeschool?

In modern times, the fundamentals of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education have attracted private schools and homeschoolers, but not all of them embrace the Christian worldview or want it to be interwoven throughout schooling. More and more Charlotte Mason curriculums and materials are being created or modified to include a secular point of view. Here are some resources for learning about secular homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason approach:



Charlotte Mason Homeschool | Time4Learning
Find out about the Charlotte Mason home education style, how the method works, and Charlotte Mason homeschool curriculum. Discover how Time4Learning can work with the Charlotte Mason method.

Charlotte Mason in the Secular Homeschool | Build Your Library
Discover how to infuse the basic tenets of the Charlotte Mason approach—living books, copywork and dictation, narration, nature study, and short and varied lessons—into your secular homeschool.

A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling $
By Emily Cook (Author)
Have you researched Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education but discounted it as old-fashioned and overtly religious? Then this is the book you need to read. In A Literary Education, Emily Cook lays out how she has brought Miss Mason’s ideology into the modern age for secular homeschoolers. In conversational prose she discusses the key tenants used in Charlotte Mason homeschooling and explains how to make them work for your family.

Modern Secular Charlotte Mason | They Call Me Blessed
Read one family’s story about how they use the Charlotte Mason approach in their secular homeschool.

Secular Charlotte Mason? | Simply Charlotte Mason
Read about adapting Charlotte Mason for secular homeschools by the homeschoolers who are doing it. Find suggestions for secular curriculums and materials, too.

Secular Charlotte Mason | Homeschool Realm—Adventures with an ADHD Homeschooling Mom
The Charlotte Mason approach tends to be a Christian approach since Charlotte was a devout Christian and incorporated her beliefs into her educational philosophy. As secular (non-religious) homeschoolers, this isn’t something our family is interested in. But that doesn’t mean that Charlotte’s approach cannot be tweaked and used in a secular way. It’s actually not that difficult to do so as Christianity is not actually intertwined in every aspect of the approach.”

Secular Edition of the Charlotte Mason Study Guide $
By Penny Gardner (Author)
“Many secular home educators are incorporating Charlotte Mason into their home schools. People have asked for a book about Charlotte Mason without as many religious references. Since an e-book is so easy to adapt, I decided to fill the need.”


Benefits of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Clearly, if many homeschooling families are choosing the Charlotte Mason method, either as is or in a secular format, there is something that is driving its popularity. In her article, “What Drew Me to a Charlotte Mason Education, Karen Andreola describes the benefits of Charlotte Mason homeschooling. She writes, “One of the first things that impressed me about Charlotte was her method of using whole books and first-hand sources.” Living books provide children with engaging reading that stimulates imagination and critical thinking. The process of narration allows children to consolidate information, create opinions, and develop vocabulary and descriptive language—important skills for writing. In Charlotte Mason’s approach, homework is not given before age 13; lessons are brief, without grades and with minimal lectures, and afternoons are left free for leisure (and maybe some chores, artistic pursuits, or exploration of nature). The ultimate benefits, as described by Karen Andreola, are that children learn to love knowledge, appreciate books and culture, and discipline themselves by developing habits through education.


Tips for Teaching Charlotte Mason at Home

If you think you want to start your own Charlotte Mason homeschool, you may be looking for advice and ideas. Because this approach is used by so many homeschoolers, there are a lot of resources that can help you get started or even just improve what you are already doing. Here are some places to find tips and suggestions:

Before Curriculum: How to Start Practicing the Charlotte Mason Philosophy in Your Home $
By Amy Fischer (Author)
Instead of tick boxes and to-do lists, Charlotte Mason‘s broad principles show us how to give our children a beautiful, well-rounded education. With this book, you will learn some of the most action-oriented of these principles: the educational ‘tools’ of atmosphere, discipline, and life. You will be able to apply these tools in your home right away and build your confidence as a Charlotte Mason educator – even if you are just starting out.”

Charlotte Mason Approach to Education | Penny Gardner
“I started using Charlotte Mason’s ideas in my homeschool in 1994. It has been an amazing journey. I hope you’ll join me in this journey in your own homeschool. For years, I have been sharing how to incorporate Charlotte Mason by presenting workshops and a multi-media in-person seminar.” Now you can purchase Penny Gardner’s video, which includes a consultation phone call, and/or her Charlotte Mason Study Guide.

A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning $
By Karen Andreola (Author)
This modern classic is written by the homeschool mom who first carried Charlotte Mason‘s writings to America in her suitcase in 1987. Karen and her husband Dean arranged for Miss Mason’s books to be republished for a new generation of parents and educators and kept them in print for 25 years! […] A Charlotte Mason Companion offers you tools to create an extraordinary learning experience. At the turn of every page, you will meet a practical idea and the inspiration to carry it out.”

A Charlotte Mason Education | Catherine Levison
When I was new to homeschooling, I did not have the time for gimmicks and empty promises. My first attempts to duplicate school at home were not successful and left me feeling that my children were not going to be well equipped for life. There was also the boredom, the tedious sameness to each day, followed by early onset burn-out. This led to frustration which nearly ended my homeschooling experience after only one year. […] I owe much to the Charlotte Mason method for bringing life and variety into my home.”

A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual $
By Catherine Levison (Author)
The immensely popular ideas of Charlotte Mason have inspired educators for many decades. Her unique methodology as written about in her six-volume series established the necessary protocols for an education above and beyond that which can be found in traditional classroom settings. In A Charlotte Mason Education, Catherine Levison has collected the key points of Charlotte Mason‘s methods and presents them in a simple, straightforward way that will allow families to quickly maximize the opportunities of homeschooling.

Charlotte Mason High School Study Guide
This page is my study notes written from our group’s discussion of High School the CM Way. I may also add some useful links for High School in general.” Articles and resources may be older but may still be useful.

Charlotte Mason Study Loop
This archived study loop contains information and topics from past discussions. Look around to glean what you can from other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.

Charlotte Mason TopicsCharlotte Mason Topics (3 book series) $
By Charlotte Mason (Author), Deborah Taylor-Hough (Foreword)
Her teachings on the topic of education required six large volumes to cover. [The first] book makes it simple for homeschooling parents to find exactly what they need to learn about Charlotte Mason‘s thoughts on establishing good habits. [The second] book is a compilation of Mason’s writings on the topics of Nature Study, teaching natural philosophy, and the importance of children being out-of-doors. [The third] book makes it simple for homeschooling parents to find exactly what they need to learn about Charlotte Mason‘s thoughts on ideas and books.” 

How to Homeschool with the Charlotte Mason Method | Homeschool.com
Learn about the Charlotte Mason philosophy, explore essential features of the approach, and see an example of a Charlotte Mason homeschooling day.

Macbeth’s Opinion: Ideas for Homeschoolers: Seminars, Workshops, Nature Hikes….
“This website began as a place to put articles, ideas and resources I wanted to share with other homeschoolers all in one tidy place.  Several years later, it’s a bigger website than I ever thought it would be, and it is anything but tidy. Still, I harbor the hope that navigation is not too hard, and folks can find a bit of information about Charlotte Mason, Nature Study, Literature, homeschooling, and how it all fits together. Most of the pages on this website contain at least a bit of advice, some full-length articles, and quite a few book lists.  Please browse a bit.”

More Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual $
By Catherine Levison (Author)
Thousands of home educators benefited from the practical ideas contained in Catherine Levison’s primer, A Charlotte Mason Education. Now Catherine takes an in-depth journey offering even more ideas for implementing the popular methods of Charlotte Mason into homeschooling. In this concise and practical guide, Levison presents the key points of Charlotte Mason‘s methods as contained in her six-volume series. A perfect companion to her first book, More Charlotte Mason Education will continue to guide your family down an enjoyable and successful path of homeschooling.

Simply Charlotte Mason
Check out this Facebook Page focused on “helping you homeschool with the Charlotte Mason method.”


Support for Families Using the Charlotte Mason Method at Home

As a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, you may also want to connect with other homeschoolers to find inspiration, share resources and tips, or simply just discuss what you are doing. Look for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers in local support groups or try one of the online groups below:

Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers
A group for homeschooling parents who incorporate the ideology of Charlotte Mason into their daily curriculum. Whether you use CM in a loosely based or purist style, share your ideas here.”

Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers
“The purpose of this group is to educate on Charlotte Mason as discussed in her volumes, or other well-known resources AND to implement that philosophy in our homeschools. We do not judge what anyone does in their own school, nor are we all traditional CM families. BUT in this group, Charlotte Mason and her philosophy for school aged children (6 years and up) is the focus. This is not a group meant for asking for people’s opinions as much as it is a group asking for Charlotte’s opinion. This group is for families using Charlotte Mason‘s methods or what is often called the “living book” or “literature” approach to homeschooling. This is the place to talk about books, nature study, handicrafts, picture study, music appreciation, and all of the various other things that go into having a real, living education.”

Charlotte Mason Inspired homeschoolers
Charlotte Mason Inspired Homeschoolers is a place to come and learn more about Charlotte Mason, her ideas, thoughts, philosophies, and methods. We understand that times have changed since Miss Mason’s life. Our homes may look different; family dynamics may look different; resources are more readily available, but her core 20 principles are timeless and an anchor for our group. Join in the conversation as we learn from one another and hopefully inspire.”

Charlotte Mason Mid & High School
“This group is for mothers and fathers who are using (or are interested in) the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschool their middle & high school aged youth. Any CM Homeschooling parent is welcome to join the group.”

Charlotte Mason Secular Homeschoolers
“Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Secular Homeschoolers. This group is intended to be a community for families of all faiths, backgrounds, and personal beliefs to be able to come together to discuss the methods and principles of a Charlotte Mason education in their home. CM Secular is a place to share non-religiously based resources with one another. We welcome you and hope we can help in your Charlotte Mason homeschool journey.”

Charlotte Mason Special Needs
This group is for parents of children with special needs (temporary, visible and invisible) who use the Charlotte Mason Method. We try to remain pure to the method while making adaptations, when necessary, that follow the 20 principles but assist the child and parent in meeting the needs of the child. Administrators, and moderators all have children with special needs children. Feel free to encourage one another in the CM philosophy of education. […] We welcome homeschool students, coop, cottage school, and private school parents who use the Charlotte Mason Method.”

Charlotte Mason – The Early Years
“We are a group of homeschoolers following Charlotte Mason‘s methods with our little ones (before age 6). This is the place to ask questions about how to implement these methods with younger children, and to share your ideas with the rest of us! We look forward to getting to know you and growing and teaching in these early years together!”

Handicrafts – Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers
“Handicrafts geared toward CM standards and homeschoolers. Please only share those that fall under the CM standards for handicrafts (ex. no cute handprint crafts!)”

Our Charlotte Mason Homeschool
“Welcome to Our Charlotte Mason Homeschool (with a slant)! A place to share how “you” apply CM philosophies in your homeschool. Each of us have very unique children and are raising unique individuals so that can mean that sometimes we need to make things “our own” by tweaking things here and there~ this is where “Our” Charlotte Mason Homeschool comes in. To share how we do things to meet the needs of our children.”

Simply Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
“Welcome to the official Simply Charlotte Mason (SCM) group for support, encouragement, advice, questions, and discussion for those using the SCM curriculum and individual resources.”

Special Needs Homeschooling the Charlotte Mason Way
“Welcome! Special needs is hard, but we are here to show you that you can homeschool your special needs child and can succeed. We hope this is a place where you can find community and share ideas about how to make homeschooling not only doable but pleasant using Charlotte Mason‘s 20 principles.”

Unschooling Charlotte Mason
In this group we have a delightfully eclectic bunch of ladies…from unschoolers who are interested in incorporating the lovely ideas of the Charlotte Mason method into their family’s lifestyle of learning to more relaxed Charlotte Mason style homeschoolers looking to add more interest-led learning into their routine. Welcome to the group! Enjoy unschooling and interest-led learning…with a Charlotte Mason flair.”


Be sure to check out our Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Resources page, too!

Charlotte Mason Curriculums 

What are your thoughts on the Charlotte Mason approach? Do you have suggestions for modifying the method for a secular homeschool? Share your comments below….

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