The Ultimate Guide to the Charlotte Mason Method

Cam Russo
The Ultimate Guide to the Charlotte Mason Method The Ultimate Guide to the Charlotte Mason Method

Charlotte Mason is widely considered one of the most influential and iconic educators of all time. This pioneering educator put forward a revolutionary educational program that incorporated her beliefs on the importance of literature, nature, morality, family life, art, foreign languages and more to create an incredibly enriching educational environment for young children. 

Her methods have been embraced by teachers worldwide since they first emerged in the late 19th century. 

In this ultimate guide to the Charlotte Mason method’s principles and practices, we’ll look at her groundbreaking work and explore how you can apply it in your home or classroom today!

Who Was Charlotte Mason?

Charlotte Mason was an innovative British educator of the late 19th century who championed a holistic philosophy of education. 

She believed in providing students with quality experiences to help them develop skills and knowledge which supported living life as a whole instead of merely focusing on tests and grades. 

Mason felt strongly about teaching students beyond the basics, inspiring them to think deeply and appreciate art, literature, music, nature, and other experiences. 

Her ideas have continued to be highly regarded today throughout independent schools, homeschools, and modern-day educators who see her educational philosophy as an effective method for learning.

What is the Charlotte Mason Theory & Philosophy?

playing with blocks Charlotte Mason theory & philosophy

Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy emphasized the importance of developing habits, principles, and skills rather than rote memorization. 

She stressed the importance of allowing young children to observe and explore their environment through nature study, literature, poetry, and art. 

Focusing on long-term learning gains instead of short-term grades, she revolutionized education. Her unique approach was presenting ideas with humility and respect while leaving it up to each child to draw their own opinions and conclusions. 

The goal is for students to remember information and engage with their learning meaningfully. 

Through careful observation, reflection, and collaboration with others, Charlotte Mason’s philosophy nurtures thoughtful citizens who truly understand what literacy means.

How the Charlotte Mason Method Works

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The Charlotte Mason method emphasizes exposing young children to beauty, literature, and nature through various forms of media. 

Unlike traditional learning methods, this method focuses on teaching via interesting stories and materials like living books that capture children’s attention. 

Instead of relying solely on textbooks or worksheets, the Charlotte Mason method depends heavily on real-world experiences and thoughtful conversations between teacher and student. 

Using this educational theory encourages students to think deeply to understand the material they are studying.

With its emphasis on intellectual knowledge and life skills, this method has become especially popular with parents who want their kids to be well-rounded.

Charlotte Mason Curriculum Today

Strong character development, as well as academic achievement, remain cornerstones of the Charlotte Mason curriculum today.

While many topics are covered as they have been since the late 19th century, much of the curriculum has also been reinterpreted for modern-day application. 

This can be seen in the form of greater emphasis on enriching language arts assignments (to enable children to practice their written composition skills) or engaging in more visual projects.

Charlotte Mason History Curriculum

kids learning charlotte mason history in museum

Charlotte Mason’s history curriculum enables students to learn history in a fun and engaging manner. It involves studying historical events through stories and pictures and discussing them with others. 

This enables students to learn about history in a more interactive way, which can improve memory retention. 

Comparing Historical Experiences

Charlotte Mason’s history curriculum focuses on teaching about experiences in history. Rather than just memorizing dates and facts, it encourages students to think about how people lived during different times and places and how historical events impacted their lives. 

By adopting the Charlotte Mason approach, students can gain an appreciation for history in a more meaningful way. 

Comparing Historical Interpretations

Students are encouraged to think critically about the past by examining different interpretations of history and how it may have been influenced by bias or personal worldviews. 

Through this, students can develop an understanding of why people may have acted or thought differently based on their context and experiences. 

Moreover, they can gain an appreciation of how our understanding of the past shapes our outlook on the present and future. 

Comparing Other Cultures & Heritages

Finally, Charlotte Mason’s history curriculum encourages learning about cultural heritage.

Students gain insights into their own culture and traditions by studying different cultures and societies throughout history. 

This fosters greater appreciation for the diverse backgrounds of people around them and awareness of social class. This knowledge can help build a more inclusive society. 

Charlotte Mason Geography Curriculum

The Charlotte Mason geography curriculum encourages students to learn about the natural world around them. It uses books and real-world examples to teach them about different countries, cultures, and people. 

For example, students might learn about the history and culture of China by reading a book about it, then visiting a Chinese restaurant and talking to the owner about their life in China. 

They might also learn about the geography of the United States by looking at a map, then visiting different parts of the country. 

With Charlotte Mason’s geography approach, students can see how all these things are connected and how one culture influences another. 

Charlotte Mason Language Arts Curriculum

children learning Charlotte Mason language arts

The Charlotte Mason language arts curriculum offers many benefits, such as teaching them how to read and write well. It also encourages students to think critically and develop their creativity.

By focusing on Charlotte Mason’s ideas, teachers can create an engaging classroom environment where students can explore language arts topics in different ways. 

For example, they can encourage students to discuss books they have read, explore traditional literature, and create their own stories. This type of learning is fun and engaging for students of all ages. 

Furthermore, it helps them develop the skills necessary to be successful in language arts classes throughout their educational journey. 

Charlotte Mason Math Curriculum

Charlotte Mason math learning children

The Charlotte Mason approach to mathematics instruction is based on narration and hands-on manipulations rather than memorization of formulas.

This style, which emphasizes the ability to reason logically, fosters the development of problem-solving techniques that can be applied to all types of mathematical tasks.

Rather than relying solely on worksheets for drill and practice, students are encouraged to narrate math stories and create visual representations of problems before determining a solution.

With this type of curriculum, students become lifelong learners who gain greater confidence as they spend more time applying principles rather than merely memorizing facts.

Charlotte Mason math promotes an understanding that math is not just about numbers but about exploring relationships between shapes, sizes, and quantities in a meaningful way.

Learning math using Duplo Legos or dominoes is a perfect practical way to apply these principles with your young children!

Charlotte Mason Methods for Homeschool

Charlotte Mason’s curriculum is a unique approach to homeschooling that focuses on the whole child. It involves an eclectic mix of educational elements, including nature studies, narration, copy work, dictation, and picture study. 

There are many ways to bring these components together for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Let’s look at how the Charlotte Mason method is applied in homeschool learning programs!

Nature Studies

Nature studies are a vital part of Charlotte Mason’s curriculum. These studies might include:

    • Going on nature walks
  • Using field guides to identify plants and animals in your area 
  • Studying works of literature that explore the beauty and mysteries of nature, like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett or Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.


Narration is a crucial element of Charlotte Mason’s idea of education. It involves young children retelling what they have read or heard, either by reciting it verbally or writing it down in their own words.

This technique develops memory and comprehension skills by deepening the understanding and appreciation of the studied material.

Copy work

Copy work is another important tool in Charlotte Mason’s curriculum. This involves children copying passages from books or works of literature into their own notebooks, which helps to improve literacy skills while internalizing and appreciating the beauty of both the English language and foreign language.


Dictation is a form of oral instruction that Charlotte Mason popularized. It involves a teacher or parent reading aloud a passage for the student to write down.

This helps children learn proper spelling and grammar and improve their writing skills.

Picture Study

Picture study involves looking at art and discussing it, which helps develop a young child’s sense of aesthetics and appreciation for beauty.

This can be done by viewing prints or visiting local fine arts galleries.

By combining these educational elements, Charlotte Mason created a holistic approach to education that focuses on the entire person—mind, body, and spirit.

Her curriculum is highly flexible and can be tailored to various homeschooling styles and individuals’ special needs. 

Picture study is an excellent choice for families looking to create a unique, engaging learning environment for their children.

Charlotte Mason Habits

Ms. Mason’s educational philosophy gave specific attention to habits that she believed students should cultivate in order for them to be fully engaged learners.

These six habits, known as Charlotte Mason habits, are: 

    • Attention–Refers to training students to focus on what is important and allow their minds to make connections.
    • Time– Requires students to learn to manage their own time and respect the time of others by following schedules.
    • Accuracy–Striving for accuracy in everything from listening skills to writing assignments.
    • Curiosity–Encourages exploring ideas in-depth and questioning conventional wisdom.
  • Work–Making a genuine effort even when tasks seem difficult or unpleasant.
  • Reverence– A sense of respect towards individuals and the environment around them.

Books by Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason offers families tools and techniques through her timeless books to transform their homeschooling experience into something extraordinary.

Keep reading to learn more about her inspiring work – from philosophy and curriculum design to ideas for activities that bring the Charlotte Mason method to life!

Home Education

Home Education is arguably the most famous and important work of Charlotte Mason’s entire homeschooling series.

Mason advocated for a broad-based educational model in this book, emphasizing meaningful learning through experiences rather than memorization and rote repetition. 

The book outlines a curriculum that includes reading great literature, science, history, art, and much more. Ms. Mason believed in giving children an education that was both rich and meaningful, a style of homeschooling that is still popular today.

Parents & Children

This book examines the Charlotte Mason philosophy and how parents can best teach and nurture their children.

Mason wrote about the importance of establishing a close bond between parent and child and providing a stimulating learning environment that encourages exploration and experimentation. 

Mason also stressed the need for children to have autonomy in their learning, allowing them to make choices and pursue interests on their own.

This book is still essential reading today for any parent or educator who wants to understand Charlotte Mason’s methods.

School Education

This book was the third volume in Mason’s Home Education series, and it focused on developing an effective curriculum that could be used both in homeschooling and traditional schooling settings. 

Ms. Mason outlined various teaching approaches, including the teacher’s role, classroom management techniques, and different assessment methods. 

She also discussed the importance of nurturing a child’s creativity and imagination as part of their education.


Ourselves is the fourth volume in the Charlotte Mason homeschooling series. This book focuses on character building and encourages children to think for themselves, recognize different values, build good habits and make wise decisions. 

The book includes many stories, games, and exercises designed to help children develop their moral compass.

Formation of Character

The fifth volume in Charlotte Mason’s educational series, Formation of Character, outlines Mason’s philosophy of how to shape a child’s character.

Ms. Mason argued that the best way to teach children good values is through imitation and example—teaching them by showing them rather than simply telling them what is right and wrong.

A Philosophy of Education

Charlotte Mason’s A Philosophy of Education is a treatise on the importance of education in developing young minds. 

Mason argues that education should be geared towards cultivating children to become responsible, virtuous citizens who think for themselves and act within the principles of morality. 

She emphasizes the importance of providing an environment in which students can learn through meaningful experiences and instruction. 

Mason sees the act of teaching as a partnership between the teacher and student, with both parties contributing to a common goal.

Mason also emphasizes the need for teachers to be aware of the capabilities and interests of each student, allowing them to tailor their lessons and instructions accordingly. 

She suggests that teachers should look beyond mere academic achievement and foster personal development through various means, such as forming relationships and tackling real-world problems.

Charlotte Mason Skills for 6-Year-Olds

6 year old learning new skills

Charlotte Mason believed that there are 18 things that children can be taught by the age of six. These are:

    1. To recite six easy poems and hymns perfectly.
    2. To flawlessly and beautifully recite a parable and psalm.
    1. Numbers up to 10 can be added and subtracted with dominoes or counters.
    2. What a child reads and how much they read will depend on what others tell them.
    3. To hand-copy something from a book.
    1. Knowing which direction is north, south, east, and west in relation to where they live. Additionally, be aware of when the sun rises and sets and in which direction the wind blows.
    2. To delineate the parameters of their own home.
    3. To describe any body of water within easy reach.
    1. To be able to retell three stories each from Bible history, early English history (updatable to American), and early Roman times with accuracy and concision.
    2. To describe three walks and views.
    3. To press and mount twelve wildflowers (one each week) in a scrapbook, label them, describe their features using one’s own words, and indicate where they were found.
    1. Same as above, but with the leaves and flowers of six forest trees.
    2. Identifying six birds by their song, color, and shape.
    3. To submit Kindergarten or other artwork in the required manner.
    1. To share three personal stories about their rabbits, dogs, or cats.
    2. To name 20 common objects and say 12 simple phrases in French.
    3. To sing a hymn, one song in French, and one song in English.
  1. To keep a caterpillar as a pet and document the life cycle of a butterfly from start to finish.

Charlotte Mason Skills for 12-Year-Olds

skills for 12 year olds

Charlotte Mason also devised a list of skills that she believed would benefit 12-year-olds in their learning journeys.

It’s similar to the list of skills for 6-year-olds above and encourages deep thinking, lively conversations, and personal growth.

    1. To understand and paraphrase a long section after only one reading or hearing it.
    2. To spell words correctly and express themselves easily in writing.
    3. To provide a comprehensive and organized description of any topic they have researched.
    1. To provide a written account of what they have seen or heard from the newspapers.
    2. To know the country’s common objects well and to be able to paint some of them.
    3. To be skilled in different handicrafts, like Sloyd with cardboard, basket-weaving, and clay modeling.
    1. To be knowledgeable in fractions, percentages, decimals, household accounts, and other necessary topics.
    2. To have a basic understanding of Elementary Algebra, as well as practice with geometry.
    3. To understand enough spoken French to get by in conversation, read beginner-level books without needing a dictionary, and have some command of the French language overall.
    1. To study English, French, and Classical (Plutarch) History in great detail.
    2. To learn about the different parts of the world in depth using a map, and eventually be able to identify the landscape, industries, etc., from memory.
    3. To study the subject areas of Physical Geography, Botany, Human Physiology, and Natural History in more detail by reading interesting books on each topic.
    1. To know English Grammar rules
    2. To be well-versed in Scripture History and the Bible’s verses
    3. To know how to sing using the Tonic Sol-fa method, as well as a few songs in English, French, and German.
    1. To learn the Swedish drill, various others, and calisthenic exercises.
    2. To be able to draw common objects from the house and field, express rudimentary ideas, and be acquainted with some artists and their work.
    3. To build musical ability that’s balanced with a working knowledge of musical theory and ear training.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between Charlotte Mason and Montessori?

The difference lies in the approach: Charlotte Mason uses an eclectic approach to teaching, using elements from several different educational philosophies. 

This means there is an emphasis on narration, literature-based learning, nature study, and other subjects broadly to provide a well-rounded education for students. 

In contrast, the Montessori Method emphasizes independent exploration, allowing children to use materials in a play-based learning environment to discover their own unique paths.
Related Post: Charlotte Mason vs. Montessori

When did Charlotte Mason write A Philosophy of Education?

Charlotte Mason wrote A Philosophy of Education in 1923, based on her experiences and observations gained from teaching hundreds of students over the last 30 years.

What age does Charlotte Mason start?

Charlotte Mason recommended beginning her approach to education with infants from birth. However, many people opt to start when their child is 3 or 4 years old because that age is generally considered emotionally mature enough to begin structured learning.

What is the difference between Charlotte Mason and Waldorf?

Charlotte Mason students apply her learning approach to a myriad of subjects, whereas Walldorf students prioritize extended learning of just one subject. 

What is the difference between Charlotte Mason and Neoclassical?

Charlotte Mason education emphasizes giving children nature walks as an integral part of their learning; in addition, it focuses more heavily on developing children’s imaginations through classic stories and poetry.

Meanwhile, Neoclassical education concentrates more on language studies, emphasizing memorization, grammar, and philosophy.