There are now countless websites and blogs devoted to the teaching and philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Back in 200, when this article was first written, I intended for this to be brief. Considering the amount of information now available, this is now ridiculously brief. Rather than attempt to rewrite the article I’ll simply post some links to good websites.

So Can We Sum Up The Methods Briefly?

We are leading the children to self-education. The reading of the best books facilitates this. Instead of comprehension questions and workbooks, narration is used. Narration is a natural yet extremely powerful tool that we can use in all areas of learning. Very simply, it is the telling back of what they have read or of what has been a read-aloud. Through narration, we can also see what the child does know, not what the child does not know. Whilst narration can be easy, natural and free it is also a complex process of which is very valuable and important in later years.

There is a strong emphasis on “living books“. (A living book is the opposite of a textbook and workbook) Texts and encyclopedias are good and contain much valuable information, however they are only facts. Dry facts. Living books allow the readers to become a part of the book, enabling them to understand the story, time custom etc. more clearly. They are well written and what Charlotte Mason would say are “clothed in literary language“. Living books do not talk down to a child’s level or leave out odd and interesting vocabulary.

Short lessons, which take place in the morning, keep children stimulated and focussed.

Copywork begins with careful penmanship, learning to make the letters and numbers correctly, producing a few perfect examples rather than a page of work that becomes sloppy. Once the letters are learned, then simple words, then sentences, paragraphs, and so on can be done, according to the age and ability of the student.

Charlotte Mason strongly emphasised the formation of Habits. She wrote, “the habits of the child produce the character of the man . . .every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.” Many, who have read Charlotte Mason’s Six Volume Series agree that one of her favorite analogies with regard to habits is that they are similar to tracks for a train. The same way that it is easier for the train to stay on the tracks than to leave them, so it is for the child to follow lines of habit carefully laid down than to run off these lines. Because habits are so powerful, she tried to emphasize to parents that it is our responsibility to lay down these tracks. Charlotte Mason considered habit a delight in itself, and the training in habits becomes a habit for the mother. The choice is ours, as Charlotte put it, “The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.”

I hope I have assisted you in becoming more familiar with the woman, Charlotte Mason and the methods that she espoused.

Recommended reading
“For The Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Mcaulay
“A Charlotte Mason Education” A how-to manual. By Catherine Levinson
“A Charlotte Mason Companion” by Karen Andreola
“Charlotte Mason Study Guide ” by Penny Gardner
“Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series” by Charlotte Mason (six volume series)

Charlotte Mason series:
Part One: the woman and the philosophy,
Part Two (methods in brief),
Part Three (subject covered)