“What is the Charlotte Mason method?” (in 25 words or less)

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. In upcoming issues of the CM-Monthly, we’ll be reprinting some of those survey results. It’s quite interesting to see what others are doing in their CM-style home schools.

Here is one of the survey questions with some of the actual responses from readers:

QUESTION: Attempt to summarize the Charlotte Mason method in twenty-five words or less.

[Not everybody was up for this one. I know it’s a hard question because I’m asked it all the time — I’m proud of those of you who tried and of how well you did. –C. Levison.]

“To develop children that have a love for learning, strong character and wills through narration of quality literature and challenging academics. Short quality versus long twaddle.”

“A teaching method that encompasses a broad variety of subjects; all the basics, but also includes the best literature, music, art, poetry available. It employs techniques such as nature notebooks, book of the centuries, short lessons, and narration to find out what the student does know.”

“Using the best quality of materials available to expose and instruct in a broad range of subjects. Appreciating the child’s level of development, but not being afraid to challenge him.”

“Short periods of concentrated learning, with rotation and variety of subjects to create mental rest breaks.”

“She believed children were persons, able to respond intelligently to well-written books. They needed variety and short lessons to secure their attention. They need to be fed great ideas through literature.”

“I am, I can, I ought, I will. Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. The gentle art of learning.”

“Read books by experts. Engage and train attention through narration. Allow time and privacy for reflection. Provide a broad, balanced curriculum. Don’t talk much yourself.”

“C. M. provides a natural way for learning by exposing the finest literature, art, music, nature, etc. to the child! Knowledge is absorbed, retained and then they want more!”

“C. M. is a literature based learning style. It is relaxed and informative for parent and child.”

“Allowing children to be who God made them to be while instilling a thirst for learning.”

“Offering the richest array of subjects possible using narration, observation, dictation and experience to build and strengthen the child. I am, I can, I ought, I will!”

“It is a literary based method that helps you learn about all facets in history and life in a very interesting way.”

“The C. Mason method provides a variety of subjects to be learned and subtlety teaches the student to develop a love for learning for life.”

“The study of life in all its beauty, with gratefulness to God, while the child blossoms in character development and maturity at his own pace.”

“C. M. is a natural way to let children learn by using all their senses — ears, then mouth, hands, eyes and even their nose when they are discovering new things.”

“A broad education based in literature, a variety of subjects covered, with a good response to auditory learners!”

“To me, it is the natural way for children to learn about our world and the marvel of God’s creation-living books and hands on experience.”

Treating our children to the best of God’s creation in music, art, literature, nature, and then getting out of the way of their learning.”

“Instilling a love of learning through a wide variety of subjects, using the best of the best and encouraging the student to narrate (communicate) their knowledge.”

“Charlotte Mason’s gentle approach is twaddle-free. [It] builds the imagination and feeds the mind and spirit. [It] is character building, and it respects the child.”

“Interesting the child in the world God made through living books and short lessons, while training their character through godly habits and narration.”

“This method is based on letting children develop relationships with wonderful, whole books, the best art and music and the wonder and beauty in nature.”

“The Charlotte Mason method is one of self-education. The child learns to dig into books himself for what he needs or wants to know.”

“Wow-hard to do without repeating her philosophy, but, education is a life, directed toward knowing God, implementing a few time honored methods to instill a love of learning into the children.”

“The Charlotte Mason philosophy is a method of self-education by incorporating narration; using the best literature, nature study, and the best of the fine arts.”

“Education based on abundant direct exposure to the best literature, music, and art, and to nature. Short lessons and lots of time outdoors.”

“The Charlotte Mason method is about spreading a feast of rich truth before our children through the best in books, art, music and nature trusting their God-given ability to take what they need.”

“Charlotte Mason’s method involves a belief that children are unique human beings who deserve respect and who can learn most things from reading or being read to from whole, living books.”

“The C. M. method is the joyous, freedom to learn from real life, books art, and music.”

“The C. M. method has great respect for the child and seeks to make God and His goodness known to the child through education.”

“Child training that encompasses mental, spiritual and character formation through exposure to the best manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s leading of men through the ages.”

“To spark in a child the desire to learn and know through great literature and poetry, art and nature. Opening up their own imagination for these things.”

“The C. M. education offers a full education while preserving the sense of wonder and awe of learning that is inherent in every child.”

“I’d like to use King Alfred’s words used in one of C. M.’s letters: I have found a door. Education is a door into the goodly house of knowledge; once entered it will be a lifelong quest.”

“Children are persons and are capable of making their own relationships. They should be able to learn from using books not given pre-digested information from textbooks.”

“For me, it has meant using real books, real authors, real nature, real art, as much as possible, going straight to the source rather than intervening between child and `master.’ ”

“The ‘science of relations that a child develops for himself from a diet of living books.’ My job? To lay the feast.”

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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