“Do you combine methods?”

When Catherine Levison published her print newsletter, The Charlotte Mason Communique’, she did a survey of her readers to find out how they were personally applying Charlotte Mason methods in their homes and/or schools. It’s quite interesting to see what others are doing in their CM home schools. Here’s the first question with some of the actual responses from readers:


Do you combine methods? For example, use a combination of textbooks and the Charlotte Mason method or unit studies and Charlotte Mason? Please name all the methods you use if you have an eclectic approach.

(roughly half of these mentioned using a math book or math curriculum)

“No, I don’t combine methods — I’m trying to do ‘the CM thing’ pretty exclusively.”

“I primarily use Charlotte Mason method although I pare down Saxon for math.”

“I pretty much use a CM approach with heavy emphasis on the arts (we will illustrate many of our stories that are read for example). I also like to integrate subjects though I do not use a unit study approach per se.”

**UNIT STUDIES** — 12%

“We use a combination of textbooks, CM method and unit studies.”

“I would like to do more CM. [We use] unit studies and workbooks for math.”

“[We combine] both textbooks and unit studies.”

“[We use] unit studies and Charlotte Mason (and a little textbook).”

“[We combine] unit studies, Greenleaf’s history guidelines, Hirsch’s Core Knowledge outlines.”

“Textbook for math and phonics. CM for reading, history, art, music, Greek. Unit studies for vacation breaks, horses, oceans etc.”

“I have used CM with unit studies (mostly using history as an organizer for other subjects).”

“CM, Ruth Beechick, Units covering time periods or literature.”

**TEXTBOOKS** — 10%

“I use a textbook for math and some for science to get experiment ideas but I want us to be [observant] and not have me or a book get in the way.”

**ECLECTIC** — 8%

“Textbooks for math, junior and senior high science, some grammar, and high school foreign language which also used videos. Rest is living books/CM.”

“I have used other materials such as Greenleaf Press, Beautiful Feet Books and Sonlight, but I have adapted them CM methods — i.e. oral and written narrations.”

“[We are] very eclectic. I’ve enjoyed using Saxon math (we do the whole lesson). Daily Grams, Explode the Code. We’ve been happy with the Learnables for Spanish and Artes Latinae. I can’t say that [we] ever used a full curriculum such as Bob Jones or A Beka, but I’m getting ready to enroll both my kids (aged 8 and 11) with Calvert, because I feel that with my older son I’m needing to be more structured and allow him to work more independently. They do not like following Mom’s whims. I suppose I’ve used unit studies in the form of Greenleaf Guides to Egypt, Greece, and Old Testament. I really like them, and this is the part I hate most about going with Calvert.”

“I pretty much use a “free for all” method — we cover what we are interested in using mostly CM. [For] math we use Saxon still. We are using Simply Grammar, but also write a lot of book reports. They are enjoying the drawing too, which I never did before.”

“I used CM methods extensively during elementary grades. My oldest child started ninth grade this year and we tried using Bob Jones for history and literature. I ended up using these as guides only. I used them to pick out whole books for her to read. I also used Charlotte Mason ideas while using Ann Ward’s second grade curriculum and also Calvert’s fourth grade curriculum. Basically I used these programs as outlines and branched out to develop my own curriculum.”


“We’re in a classical Christian school with a varied group of teachers, therefore, we use a few different ideas (CM is my personal favorite and a thrust for the school).”

“I use a combination of Classical Education and CM. My main framework is based on a classical education model. I try to use CM’s methods to  teach some of the subjects. These two approaches complement each other very nicely.”


“We use Sonlight Curriculum, which is a literature-based program, however, we impose the CM method/philosophy, throughout (i.e., school work only in the mornings; short lessons; narration instead of composition in the early years; viewing education as an atmosphere, etc.).”

“We use Sonlight Curriculum to give us organization, schedule and to make sure we’re actually progressing forward, but we adjust it — for instance, we recently discontinued Sonlight’s Science to do Charlotte Mason-type nature studies.”


“I combine CM with textbook math and Wisdom’s Way of Learning and unschooling.”


“In contrast to many CM experts, I use workbooks for phonics/spelling, elementary grammar instead of dictation, but I do not think they’re much different than Simply Grammar.”

“We’ve used Calvert for five years, and are beginning to start our sixth year. I change it as needed to implement CM’s method. We don’t use the advisory program so we can enjoy our freedom.”

“We’ve been doing a history unit study that I design — starting with ancient Egypt a few years ago, up to the 1940’s this month. I’ve used Christian Liberty spelling for my son who has problems with spelling. This year I’m using Wordsmith and Wordsmith Apprentice for writing.”

“I use The Writing Road to Reading which I love. I don’t think Charlotte would approve, but it has proved to be excellent in helping my boys to read good books from the start and not have boring readers. The only other textbooks I use are Saxon and Miquon for math.”

“I just found out the Beautiful Feet guides are Principle Approach … [and their] geography is unit studies. And I use Bob Jones [for] math and science.”

“I use a phonics workbook and a math workbook. We also use a handwriting workbook. We have also used a phonics reading series for beginning reading. Out of three hours in the morning, we use half the time for workbooks and half for reading.”

“[We use] no textbooks, no unit studies, [we use] Saxon math, and Handwriting Without Tears by Jan Olsen.”

“I still tend to combine the A Beka math workbooks with CM. I have also began some programs on the computer such as typing and foreign language.”

“I used CM’s method exclusively until we had to study for the G.C.S.E. exams.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine Levison — long-time homeschooling mother of five and popular conference speaker to parenting and educational audiences throughout the USA and Canada — is the author of several books on Charlotte Mason-style home education.  Visit Catherine Levison’s Amazon Author page here:  Levison on Amazon

You can order Levison’s books online at:

  1. A Charlotte Mason Education: A How-to Manual
  2. More Charlotte Mason Education
  3. A Literary Education: An Annotated Book List

NOTE: Stop by and “Like” Charlotte Mason Home Education on Facebook!  :-)

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