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Who is Charlotte Mason?

Some may ask why anyone would be so enthralled with a “Charlotte Mason” education. Many assume Charlotte Mason is a specific curriculum. Some might consider her as some old spinster who just loved stirring the pot. Charlotte Mason was a godly woman who loved the Lord, and truly dedicated her adult life to the education of children, mothers, and teachers.

Born in Wales in 1842, she was raised an only child, and was educated by her parents from home. She enjoyed her home education so much, that she went on to teach others how to do so in a way that offers a robust, rich, feast for the child and the mother/teacher. She was a firm believer in getting out in nature, weaving faith and scriptural truths all throughout lessons, and taught in schools, wrote many books, and left a legacy that is now blessing the lives of so many, nearly one century after her death.

Charlotte believed strongly that everyone should have the opportunity to a “liberal” education — meaning robust, full of Gods goodness, abundant in variety, and filled with living ideas. She never married, but held mothers with high esteem, knowing their role was enormously important. She loved her students, she loved children, and she loved those whom she knew would be teaching children. She saw the fruit and the potential of a living education and she wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Instead, she wrote several books on her incredible philosophies.

I got my own volumes of her work from New West Press. You can also order Volume 1 from Amazon. You can also get the (only available) audio versions of her books from Living Book Press.

Keep in mind that her books were written at the turn of the twentieth century. They are filled with meat! Some is hard to chew, and she intended these works to be thoughtful, and worth savoring over time. These are not written to be read quickly. She implores us to take them in slowly, over time, and chew on what she’s truly teaching.

For more resources on learning Charlotte Mason, and who she is, I recommend checking out:

Simply Charlotte Mason on YouTube + Podcast

A Delectable Education

The New Mason Jar Podcast

Important books for grasping Charlotte Mason’s philosophies, aside from her original volumes:

For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison

A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola

Modern Miss Mason by Leah Boden 

A Charlotte Mason education is not simply a trend, nor is she someone to dedicate our entire life to. She is simply a woman, who offers us much insight and wisdom, pointing us to our need for God, our Lord and Savior, and teaches us how to love and teach our children (and ourselves) well. She reminds us through her works that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate teacher, we’re simply there to guide them and offer the tools they need to listen, and learn. Her philosophies have stood the test of time, and have blessed countless lives for the past century.

There is so much more I could say, however, I urge you to instead read the books I’ve recommended, and then come back, and let’s chat about the truth, beauty, and goodness Miss Mason directs us to, together.

I’ll have more specific posts on narration, notebooking, morning time, nature study and more in the coming months!


Why choose Charlotte Mason?

Last Spring after I made this post for my Gathered Kindred community (it’s over on Facebook now, rather than a membership, come join us!) I saw some Charlotte Mason homeschool mamas sharing posts on Instagram about why THEY chose a Charlotte Mason education, and it sparked so much JOY! I love that everyone has their different reasons for coming to this “way of life,” yet together believing the same heartbeat for it all, and even living it out and applying it differently as individual families. To me, that speaks volumes to the impact her works and philosophies have on families for the last hundred+ years… you can march to the beat of your own drum, while working together as a full band, making music so beautifully composed when shoulder to shoulder together.

A Charlotte Mason education is not simply an aesthetic. It’s not only for girls, it’s not inherently feminine. Boys who are “rough and tumble,” and love all things snakes, baseball, and tractors can and do benefit from the Charlotte Mason way of education. It is not only for those who love the “old stuff,” and it does not all have to look the way it is portrayed on instagram (even if you do love it that way too!)… it truly is for everyone. What’s most important are her philosophies. Her 20 principles are the catalyst for a true Charlotte Mason education.

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” – Miss Mason

Charlotte also said, “Education is the science of relations.” What personally drew me to a Charlotte Mason education initially, was the foundation of faith, Biblical truth interwoven all throughout every subject (yes, even math! it is a language that God created!), the beauty and arts, and the reading of good, old, classic books. Now, these are wonderful aspects of any homeschool or life method… but it’s not all that a CM entails. It is so much more rich, robust, practical, and beautiful than I initially understood.

As I’ve continued my own education alongside learning what I’m teaching my children, I’ve learned that everything works intrinsically together.

In her book In Vital Harmony, Karen Glass writes,

“There is nothing we can know about language or literature or art or music or physics or chemistry or engineering that does not have its source in God’s own law and truth for the universe. All knowledge is connected because it springs from a single source, and that source is God.” 

A Charlotte Mason education not only focuses on truth, beauty, and goodness in the shallow meaning of the words… but rather, takes God’s word, and looks at every part of life through the lens of that truth. Truly putting the foundation of Biblical truths into practice in both raising children, and becoming a more well-rounded, compassion woman ourselves, and laying a feast for our family to be well-nourished souls, in mind, body, and spirit.

Yes, we fully enjoy learning about the arts (especially as a creative person myself), but as someone who’s struggled with appreciation for the sciences, and mathematics my entire life… I have a new found appreciation for these things knowing that they too, are truly from God. We are image-bearers, raising image-bearers. Miss Mason knew that mothers set the tone for our homes, and encouraged us to continue on in our own education by reading good books, building good habits, and allowing time for our own rest and leisure.

Treating a child as a whole person, who deserves a full feast of what’s true, what is beautiful in the world God has given us through nature, music, art, and so much more… and what is good! Goodness comes in all shapes and sizes… but does it spark imagination/joy/virtue/character/life-giving-ness? Then that is GOOD. Getting outside and truly getting to know the creation around us is life-giving for us and our children. Noticing how our neighborhood trees differ, and how the change throughout the seasons, or studying the birds that frequent our own yard or park nearby.

Allowing children to build relationship with characters in a story, or an artist behind the painting, or the composer behind the symphony. Giving them actual tools to create things with their hands and build new skills on their own. Or when they narrate back what they hear or read, telling us what they know and with excitement is such a joyful thing to witness when learning things that spark interest and inspiring ideas.

My draw to a Charlotte Mason was not difficult. I already didn’t like workbooks, busywork, huge teacher manuals, or overwhelming amounts of flash cards to memorize. When I first went down my path of figuring out how I wanted to homeschool, I read Awakening Wonder, then For the Children’s Sake, and spent an entire summer watching Simply Charlotte Mason while folding my laundry each night, and knew *this* was the education I was missing my whole life, and needed to offer my own family. My husband and I were both drawn to the ideals of spending large amounts of time out-of-doors, exploring nature both near and far (my own backyard or the prettiest hike in our area), letting small kids BE KIDS and waiting for formal lessons until age 6, narration by way of digesting all new ideas and information, and of course the emphasis on appreciating good literature, Truth, and beauty all around.

My next step was reading Home Education by Charlotte herself. I get emotional at the value placed on people, both children and parents alike. It is truly beautiful. We are helping shape the Kingdom of Heaven, as mothers, home educators… and it is an incredible honor.

What about you? Are you curious about a Charlotte Mason method? Have you always done it this way… and if so, what drew you in?


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