Charlotte Mason & Homeschool

When you hear a homeschool family say “We use Charlotte Mason,” they are referring to a method of teaching rather than a specific curriculum.

Charlotte Mason believed living books and a gentle, nature-based approach were the best ways to educate at home. This once-revolutionary mindset is still at the forefront of educational discussion, and many families use her philosophy in their homeschools today. The Good and the Beautiful homeschool curriculum and other products incorporate many of Charlotte Mason’s inspiring ideas!

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Who Was Charlotte Mason? 

Charlotte Mason (1842–1923) was a British educator who wrote unique, profound books on education and parenting. She believed in educating the whole child, and her famous quote, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life,” is at the core of her methods. 

Photo courtesy of The Charlotte Mason Digital Collection/Armitt Museum

Mason’s parents died when she was young. She then trained and began her lifelong work as a teacher. Her experiences deepened her understanding of how children learn best, and later in her career she began sharing these findings publicly.

Photos courtesy of The Charlotte Mason Digital Collection/Armitt Museum

Mason’s original lectures, later turned into books, had been out of print for eight decades when missionaries Dean and Karen Andreola brought them to the United States in the late 1980s. Through modern technology, her writings and ideas are still in the homes of parents all over the world.

What She Taught

Mason’s popular, enduring teaching style stemmed from her strong belief that each child must be educated as a whole person.

Photos courtesy of The Charlotte Mason Digital Collection/Armitt Museum

Main points of the Charlotte Mason homeschool method: 

  1. Living books inspire children to learn through their own interests and curiosity rather than teacher-led lectures. Learning is a love rather than a task or a chore—it is a lifestyle. 
  2. Short, varied lessons keep a child’s interest. Lesson length increases as the child gets older.
  3. Copywork of quotes or scripture fills a child’s mind with good thoughts and values.
  4. Dictation teaches grammar, sentence structure, and spelling. Dictation is when the parent says a word or sentence aloud and the child writes it. 
  5. Narration, a retelling of what the child has learned, is how a parent assesses a child’s learning. For younger children narration is done orally. Around age 10, the child begins writing his or her narrations. 
  6. Appreciation of:
    • Nature—Children spend lots of time outdoors, observing and recording the beauty in the world around them.
    • Art—Picture studies teach children to describe the fine details of an art piece. Children also learn to replicate techniques of master artists.
    • Music—Composer study builds music appreciation.
    • Cultural heritage—Family traditions and religious experiences pass from one generation to the next.

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Why and How We Use Her Methods

Charlotte Mason’s homeschool methods are woven throughout The Good and the Beautiful curriculum. Children experience short lessons, living books, nature, art appreciation, and so much more within the pages of their course books. 

There is no start or stop from one subject to the next. Rather, subjects integrate naturally. For example, The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts courses include geography and art lessons. Real-world examples and experiences teach math concepts within all Simply Good and Beautiful Math courses.

Even our unique Handwriting books give opportunities for children to sharpen their drawing and sketching skills. This approach allows children to make connections across subjects and to understand how things relate to everyday life. 

“The power of wholesome, high-value books; the wonder of nature and poetry; the emphasis on strengthening the heart along with the mind—these things are largely missing from education today. It is the passionate mission of The Good and the Beautiful to bring these things into our Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool curriculum.”

Jenny Phillips, founder of The Good and the Beautiful

According to Mason’s methods, children complete most of their schoolwork in the mornings. Short lessons keep children interested and not easily bored. As they get older, lesson time increases. Afternoons are filled with self-directed creative exploration in nature, art, music, and more.

This is one reason that our courses are packed with powerful, connected learning in a way that shortens lesson times. (The Good and the Beautiful Levels K to 8 Language Arts and Simply Good and Beautiful Math Levels K to 6 are completely free. Download them now!)

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Choose Good Books

Charlotte Mason’s teachings align perfectly with The Good and the Beautiful mission of helping families fill their homes with good books. Mason believed living, clean books teach children to think critically while developing a deep love and appreciation for the natural world God has created. 

“Look at any publisher’s list of school books, and you shall find that the books recommended are carefully desiccated, drained of the least suspicion of an idea, reduced to the driest statements of fact. . . . the diet they afford may be meagre, meagre almost to starvation point . . .”

Charlotte Mason: A Philosophy of Education, pp. 105, 106

Our one-of-a-kind The Good and the Beautiful Book List supports Charlotte Mason’s beliefs about the need for high-quality children’s literature. This digital, searchable list includes hundreds of book titles that promote strong moral values and have clean language. 

Homeschool Book List
Photograph of Two Girls Reading Crooked Creek Ranch and the Great Flood Book

To understand the mission behind creating this unique list, read Jenny Phillips’s thoughts on How Books Have Changed in the Last Century and How to Judge a Book, Why You Should, and Why It’s OK on our Book Blog

The next time you hear “Charlotte Mason curriculum,” you will know it is not a subject to teach, but in fact a way of living and learning for your entire family!

Home Education Series by Charlotte Mason
Vol 1. Home Education
Vol 2. Parents and Children
Vol 3. School Education
Vol 4. Ourselves, Our Souls and Bodies
Vol 5. Some Studies in the Formation of Character
Vol 6. An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education
**Her collection of writings is formally out of print, but reprints can be purchased online at various booksellers.  

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  • Ashley

    I loved learning alittle about Charlotte Mason! Always hear about it but didn’t know much of what it was about

  • Savanna Sucanick

    Love the free graphics. Beautiful 🤗

  • Jessa

    I really to want to apply Charlotte Mason’s principle but I feel like I won’t be able to match the needs of having living books due to limited resources in our place. Good thing I read this blog and understood that it is not solely dependent on books but it is a way of living and learning as a family.

  • Brittany

    I love the Charlotte Mason approach to learning. So glad you incorporate some of her methods. It works so well for my oldest child especially.

  • Yvonne

    I love this! Thank you for explaining Charlotte Mason’s method so simply and clearly.