Charlotte Mason Methods

originally written in 2000

Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education is becoming more popular as people realize what a simple, yet profound, method it is. Still, many home educators have never been introduced to Charlotte Mason’s ideas.

Who was Charlotte Mason? When did she live?
masonCharlotte Mason was born in England in 1842. Her parents mainly educated her while at home. She was orphaned at the age of sixteen. Miss Mason was an innovative educator who developed a unique approach to education. She believed that all children should have access to a broad, liberal education and to be allowed to reach their full potential. She started a teacher’s training college and many parents who educated their children at home flocked to her ideas. During her life she taught school, was a lecturer at a Teacher Training College, wrote many books and pamphlets, started a training school for governess’ which became Charlotte Mason College, became a popular public lecturer, established the Parents National Education Union (PNEU), and was Editor of it’s magazine, “Parent’s Review”. Charlotte Mason also taught parents, held retreats and classes on building the family. Charlotte Mason believed that all would benefit from a rich education and life. Her philosophy of education is designed for homes, private schools, and homeschools. Charlotte Mason had never claimed to have invented the methods that she put forth, rather she modified and combined them in a practical and intelligent way. Her methods include Narration and copywork, Nature Notebooks, Fine Arts, Languages, a Literature based curriculum instead of textbooks, and real-life applications. Charlotte Mason passed away in 1923 and was and is admired by many people. She was a Christian woman who dearly loved children and education.

What are the benefits of using her approach?
This is true learning. Children’s listening, attention, comprehension, retention, speaking, and writing skills all improve from using narration as a major part of education. It has been called a literature based approach and whilst this is an important aspect of the methods, it is definitely not limited. Most people find that they enjoy their homeschooling so much more since using Charlotte Mason’s methods. It can be inexpensive to use this method of schooling.

All one really needs to purchase is a language/phonics program and a Math book. Most that use this method buy lots of good literature, and in fact, have been known to be avid book collectors. But, you can get all resources from your local library. We enjoy the short lessons, which helps cut down on dawdling. The utilisation of “short lessons” helps prevent dawdling and encourages the student to have a focused attention span and sets good study habits. Families enjoy learning about real people in real places instead of dry, hard, cold facts. Science is a hands-on approach with lots of nature study. Fine literature, good art and music also are studied and enjoyed in this approach.

Another benefit is that each child is free to work at their own pace while still having a sense of achievement. No push to reach a particular *grade* or level. So this approach may be used with intermediate or advance learners or with slow or special needs children.

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