Monday, July 23, 2012

Who is Charlotte Mason? A Home Educator's Mentor!

"The great work of education is to inspire children with vitalising ideas as to every relation of life, every department of knowledge, every subject of thought; and to give deliberate care to the formation of those habits of the good life which are the outcome of vitalising ideas."
~ Charlotte Mason (1842-1923)

Enter a room with maps, globes, magnifying glasses, artwork, microscopes, an abacus, colored pencils, paints, handicrafts and rows of shelving featuring beautiful volumes of the best of books. Here my friends, is a "Charlotte Mason" environment. Many who are familiar to the world of home education have heard her name. Ms. Mason's ideas, presented nearly 100 years ago, have been influencing many homeschoolers today. The reason is that her classical methods are sensible yet lovely, pleasurable to the student and teacher, and yield wonderful results.

"By the saying, education is an atmosphere, it is not meant that a child should be isolated in what may be called a 'child environment,' especially adapted and prepared; but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the 'child's' level." 
~ Charlotte Mason
Born in Britain, Ms. Mason was an only child who lost her mother at the age of 16 and her father one year later. She became a certified teacher to support herself. Her beliefs were that children should receive a generous and rich education. Having a desire to share her ideas with parents who were instructing their children, she began a series of lectures which were later published under the name, Home Education. Her methods and philosophies were widely received as she became involved in various organizations. Teaching children high moral standards and virtuous character traits were of great importance to her and she published many items which helped parents and governesses to facilitate her ideas. 
“Self-education is the only possible education; 
the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature.”
~ Charlotte Mason

What we gleaned from her teachings is that children should be presented with "quality" instead of quantity in many aspects. Instead of reading many short, meaningless books, read together from rich volumes of poetry and classic literature. Instead of forcing them to work out an hour of math problems, have them do short but precise lessons (either they know it or they do not). Instead of "dry" and dull textbooks about a little bit of everything, immerse your children in "living books" such as biographies, rich-in-detail historical fiction and other in depth literature written by people who loved their topics. Finish up your basic lessons in the morning and allow room for crafts, handiwork, nature study and exploration for the rest of the day. Immerse your children in a rich lifestyle of books, nature, skill and arts.  Present learning as a way of life and learning becomes a pleasurable habit! Teach your children to learn how to learn. That is the purpose of an education. Learning is a lifestyle!

“Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.”
~ Charlotte Mason 

Here is a list of her educational ideas which we love and utilize. I will be sharing how we incorporate these concepts in our eclectic style of home education (but please customize your school to your family):

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life..."
~ Charlotte Mason

by Karen Andreola

by Catherine Levison

You can also find her Original Homeschool Series online for *free*!

Queen Homeschool Supplies for all your Charlotte Mason Curriculum Needs!
Queen Homeschool Supplies, Our Favorite Charlotte Mason Curriculum
{Note: We are affiliated with them and do receive a small commission if purchased through our link.}

And finally: Ambleside Curriculum ~ Free Online Resource


  1. We love Charlotte Mason over here!! I'll have to get my hands on some of those books. Not sure if you've ever heard of English for the Thoughful Child, but she was the inspiration for that book. I used it for one of my kids for our english class.

    1. What I love is how different each home implements her ideas. There is such a treasure trove of information. Thanks for sharing. I will have to check out that book as I haven't heard of it. I do know one thing, her ideas really took a lot of stress away from what I thought "school" should be when I first started and I am so thankful for it!!!

  2. We love, love, love the CM methods of home education! We switched from the text-book method to Miss Mason's principles last September and we have loved every minute of it. If only I'd known about her when we began our home school journey so many years ago..
    But we are looking ahead now, to a lifetime of learning. :)
    Thanks for this post, JES.
    Wishing you a week full of blessings,

    1. Thanks for sharing! I think that no matter how you implement her ideas, there are many blessings in the home because of them :) A learning lifestyle is the key to a beautiful education ~ parent's included!!!

  3. I have 3 books written by Karen A. I'm looking forward to reading about Charlotte Mason.

    Blessings Gail

    1. I am wondering if you are talking about POCKETFUL OF PINECONES as being one? That is one of my "Nature Study" favorites… Thanks for sharing Gail! :)

  4. Thanks for the great post, many times people ask what I do for homeschool and when I tell them Charlotte Mason they look at me with the deer in the headlight look. I now have a resource to I can just refer them to. She is a great inspiration. If I may add to your resources I would also check out the Ambleside Online curriculum at, this has been a great resource for me through the years.