- Off The Grid News - https://www.offthegridnews.com -

The Charlotte Mason Method: What Is It And Is It For Me?

Listen To The Article

Charlotte MasonHave you ever read an early primer to your young child and been bored to tears? Have you wondered if your child felt the same way? What if children didn’t need stickers, rewards, or candy to learn? What if learning was so joyful and gentle that children couldn’t wait to get started? The Charlotte Mason method might just be the philosophy you’re looking for.

History Of The Charlotte Mason Method

Charlotte Mason was a teacher who quickly recognized a need for reform. Over many years of teaching experience, she refined her ideas and methods, but the basics stayed the same. In 1886, her book Home Education was published and quickly became widely popular in Great Britain. Mothers looking for a better way to teach their children instantly gravitated towards Mason’s methods. In 1887, Mason started the Parents’ National Educational Union (PNEU), while she continued to offer lectures throughout the UK. In 1891, she founded the House of Education to train teachers and governesses in her method. The Charlotte Mason method became so popular that the training center couldn’t train governesses fast enough to meet demand. The PNEU also established schools throughout the UK that followed the Charlotte Mason method. Mason continued training teachers until her death in 1921 at the age of eighty-one.

The philosophy fell into obscurity after World War II with the advent of a national curriculum for all state schools in the UK. Fewer parents used nannies and governesses, and parents wanted a more competitive, fast-paced curriculum. Today, only a handful of PNEU schools remain in Britain.

In recent years, homeschoolers have rediscovered Charlotte Mason and her philosophy of incorporating nature, handicrafts, classical music, art, and the great literary works to teach children. As Mason herself said, “the aim of education… is to produce a human being at his best, physically, mentally, morally and spiritually, quickened by religion and with some knowledge of nature, art, literature and handicraft.”

An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms [1]

Basic Tenets

Charlotte Mason believed that education has three parts: atmosphere, discipline and life. She believed the environment, or atmosphere, a child is educated in matters deeply. She didn’t offer grades or incentives for learning; rather, she gently encouraged children to do their best work every time and love learning for its own sake. She believed learning is best accomplished through real life experiences—through interactions with nature, good books, and warm companions.

Sound like lofty ideals? Charlotte Mason was an idealist, but she backed those ideals by plenty of practical wisdom and experience. Read on to learn tips on incorporating the Charlotte Mason method into your teaching.

The Benefits And Drawbacks Of The Charlotte Mason Method

The Charlotte Mason method is an ideal philosophy to adapt in the early years. It fosters creativity, gentleness of spirit, and a true love of learning. This method is less structured than some curriculums and offers families a relaxed, flexible approach to education.

Because the method doesn’t rely on tests or drills, parents must learn to observe progress and document it through written notes. Children also keep a notebook, which serves as evidence of learning. Parents new to homeschooling may feel uneasy about the lack of structure and prefer workbooks or tests instead. As children get older, they may incorporate more structured learning methods in preparation for college.


Charlotte Mason wrote a complete volume of books on her philosophy, including Home Education, Parents and Children, School Education, Ourselves, Formation of Character, and A Philosophy of Education. These books offer an in-depth look at the Charlotte Mason method, and they’re available at most public libraries or for purchase online. The books are written for a nineteenth-century audience, and as you might expect, are a bit wordy. Still, if you want to get the method directly from the source, these books are the way to go.

For a more modern take on it, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay wrote For the Children’s Sake, an important early book that rekindled interest in the Charlotte Mason method. Karen Andreola is also a renowned expert on the Charlotte Mason method. She’s written many articles for Practical Homeschooling magazine on the subject and also published A Charlotte Mason Companion, which breaks the philosophy down into manageable pieces and offers real solutions for incorporating it into your homeschooling.

There are also Internet resources available. SimplyCharlotteMason [2] is a wonderful website, packed with book lists, curriculum ideas, resources and helps. You’ll find a bookstore here, as well as a forum where you can meet others interested in the method. Be sure to visit Ambleside [3] for comprehensive information on the method, as well as ideas and resources for teaching everything from science to classical music.

The Charlotte Mason method is more than a curriculum or educational philosophy. It’s a way of life. Mason believed deeply that education should feed the spirit and soul as it trains the mind.