Method to the Madness

This year we are working to fully embrace the Charlotte Mason Method in our home. Charlotte Mason (1842–1923) was a British educator who invested her life in improving the quality of children’s education. She believed in offering a generous and broad range of quality curriculum for children of all ages.

The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.

An Atmosphere, A Discipline, A Life

“Atmosphere” refers to the surroundings in which the child grows up. Children absorb a lot from their home environment. Charlotte believed that the ideas that rule your life as a parent make up one-third of your child’s education.

“Discipline” Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits—and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in a child’s life make up another third of his education.

“Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.

Living Methods

Charlotte’s students used living books, rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in narrative or story form by one author who has a passion for his topic. A living book makes the subject “come alive.”

Instead of formal testing, students were required to tell back, or narrate, in their own words what the book was about. This helped to secure the story in their minds. No fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice quizzes; they practiced using rich language as they pointed out the ideas they gleaned from the reading and any mental connections they made between it and other ideas already residing in their growing minds and hearts.

She taught handwriting and spelling by using passages from great books that communicate great ideas rather than using just a list of words.

She encouraged spending time outdoors, interacting with God’s creation firsthand and learning the living ways of nature.

She introduced the work of great artists and composers, to her students and let them spend time with each, getting to know their works personally.

She spread before her students a feast of ideas from a wide variety of sources—from Shakespeare to knitting to Bible to trampling through a field or a stream to Math to singing to foreign languages. And woven throughout it all, she emphasized the habits of full attention and learning for the sake of learning.

All designed to help the child grow; for we learn, to grow.

Charlotte Mason’s Students Motto:

“I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will.”

I am . . . a child of God, a gift to my parents and my country. I’m a person of great value because God made me.

I can . . . do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God has made me able to do everything required of me.

I ought . . . to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parents and everyone in authority over me, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve.

I will . . . resolve to keep a watch over my thoughts and choose what’s right even if it’s not what I want.


Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series 
is a six-volume set that includes over 2,400 pages of the finest material ever written on education, child training and parenting. Recognized as the pioneer in home education and major school reforms, Charlotte Mason’s practical methods are as revolutionary today as when they were first written.


I am, I ought, I can, I will.

A Motto that I can get behind 100% and is something that I’m so excited to continue to learn more about and transition into over time.

Are you a Homeschool Mom? Do you use the CM method? What method have you found works best for your family? COMMENT BELOW! <3

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