Charlotte Mason – Book 1: Home Education


Charlotte Mason feels that it is important for children to be outdoors four to six hours a day. The fresh air and sunshine are good for their physical health as well as their mental health. Powers of observation can be developed in the child as he describes in detail a scene that lies before him. The oral narrations (verbal descriptions in this case) lead to good written narrations later. The child can observe insects and other wild animals, which are all part of larger classifications. The child’s familiarity with nature will help him to understand literature and the world in general. A piece of dry ground can serve as an example of the Sahara Desert.

Famous artwork can be viewed in the same way as the outdoor observations. The child can describe a painting in detail, and then it becomes “theirs;” in other words, they remember it.

Keep lessons varied and short (10 or 15 minutes for children under 9.) This way the child’s mind is fresh and can concentrate well. Reading lessons should consist of one lesson of word building, and the next lesson (the next day) on sentence building. She stresses sight reading as the easiest way to learn reading. She says that spelling is visual, and that the child should photograph each word in his mind in order to always spell the word correctly.

Foreign language should be taught every day in such a way that the young child is submerged in the language. This way the grammatical aspects of the language get absorbed easily and effortlessly. The child can be taught foreign language outdoors.

Habits are extremely important to form in the child, even from an early age. The habits of obedience and self-control are the most important, because from them you will be able to teach your child anything. Self-control is having authority of your own will, being able to force yourself to do something that you don’t want to do, because doing it is the right thing, and you want the positive results. For example, I forced myself to pull weeds in the yard, and now the yard is beautiful, and I can enjoy it more. The end results must be kept in mind, especially when you are initially learning self-control.

Habits can also make our lives much easier. To form a new habit, you must force yourself to do the new action over and over again. At first it is hard, but then it becomes effortless. For example, my morning routine includes starting a load of laundry first thing in the morning. Now I do it automatically, and I’m never behind on my laundry. This is one of the positive aspects of having some kind of schedule, because children will be automatically going from one set of studies to another. Even with small children, they are able to concentrate and be well-behaved if you have a schedule. When I was in the hospital giving birth to my third baby, there was no schedule followed for my two toddlers at home. As a result, they threw tantrums the entire day. They were probably exhausted from making decisions, instead of going through one scheduled activity to another in their familiar order. As soon as order was brought back to their day, the tantrums disappeared.

For Bible lessons, Charlotte Mason would like us to read Scripture to the children and not water it down with morals to each story. When children see the consequences of sin or obedience, which are obvious from each story, they will want to be obedient to receive blessing from God.

We must teach our children about God; but how, besides teaching God’s Word? We must teach them what we know is true about God. For example, I know that God is a God of comfort because in my times of deepest anguish, God has given me the peace that passes understanding. Whatever you have experienced in your walk with God, share it with your children. They will believe whatever you live out in your life.

Related product: Using Journals to Teach Writing

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4 Responses to “Charlotte Mason – Book 1: Home Education”

  1. momto8blog says:

    how true!! and I know we have to reinforce good habits…in ourselves and our kids!!
    I chase my kids outside everyday!!

  2. The Nature Studies approach recommended by Charlotte Mason has another great benefit … it forms an important part of the foundation of later studies in science … the ‘grammar of science’ to borrow from the medieval trivium and Dorothy Sayers’ essay in the ‘tools of learning’. Young students not only learn ‘wonder’, but they learn such basic scientific skills as observation, classification and comparison. These, in turn, are put to work when they begin applying the ‘scientific method’ in their early teen years. And with the emphasis on the fact that God has revealed Himself through creation (nature), that begins to form the basis for a mature Christian scientific worldview that can flourish into high school and beyond. Remember … we may be educating our children, but we are raising adults … that is what we want them to grow up to be.

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