The Charlotte Mason Method of Education

The Charlotte Manson method of education started in the early 1900s by the British educator of the same name.  Charlotte Manson brought about a change in the method of homeschooling at that time, focusing on access to a quality education for all classes of society irrespective of social class or gender.

One of the main aspects to Charlotte Manson’s approach was the introduction of ‘Living books’. These, unlike normal text books, were texts written in first person form by a single author with a lot of passion about the subject written. Living books were usually written in a narrative form, making them engaging to read as well as understandable and interesting. Children were then encouraged to cement their learning by providing a narrative on the subject just covered. This way, children and their parents could actually tell what the student had learned, making the results of studying more transparent.

Other features of the Charlotte Manson method to education include:

  • The use of narration to bring about a new subject; Children find this easier to listen to and digest compared to normal ‘lectures’;
  • The importance given to handwriting; Children are made to write short passages to improve their handwriting. Copy work is a daily activity in this method. Only one copy work should be done each day.
  • Each child is made to write down a passage through the form of dictation. This allows them to improve their listening ability as well as writing ability. As children do this task, they are exercising multiple learning areas at the same time. The parents or the teacher is supposed to watch over the child writing the dictated passage to catch any mistakes and correct them immediately.
  • Listening to songs and looking at paintings and other pieces of art is an important part of this method of education. This brings about a sense of art appreciation among the children. This is made even more productive by asking the children to narrate their observations.
  • An emphasis on appreciating nature. Daily walks, outdoor studies, and visits to natural places are common. Children are made to carry a ‘Nature Notebook’ which they can use to write or draw anything they have seen.
  • Habit training, including good manners, neatness, truthfulness, obedience and kindness, is practiced and reinforced in this method. These habits are best taught when the child is young.

The current idea of boy scouts and girl guides dates back to the time of Charlotte Mansion. This approach has a great emphasis on learning by experience and learning from nature. This tradition, bought about by Charlotte Manson’s ideas, is practiced all over the world.

The Charlotte Manson method is extremely effective for children as it utilises short books and narrative ways of teaching through its use of living books. This method places a lot of emphasis on learning by experience, and is very helpful in developing creative thinking and an artistic mind. The Charlotte Mason influence is also regarded by some as ‘heaven’ for youngsters with considerable interest in art, music and linguistics.


Melissa Murdoch has a passion for life span development and education, and believes wholeheartedly that a healthy society begins at home. For further information on how to get started in homeschooling, please visit YourHomeschoolCommunity.com.

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One Response to “The Charlotte Mason Method of Education”

  1. Hi,
    I’m not sure if you have a clear understanding of who Charlotte Mason was and her methodology, or perhaps I misunderstood who you are writing about – Charlotte Manson? Charlotte Mansion? or Charlotte Mason?
    She did not advocate “short books” in particular and your understanding of narration is not correct when you say, “The use of narration to bring about a new subject; Children find this easier to listen to and digest compared to normal ‘lectures’;”
    Narration is not about the method of teaching, rather the response to what was read.
    Also, living books are not described as books which are written in the first person.
    Have you read Charlotte Mason’s own writings?
    But, perhaps I am mistaken and you are actually writing about someone other than Charlotte Mason because you use “Charlotte Manson” a few times and even “Charlotte Mansion”. I apologize if you are writing knowledgeably about someone entirely different.
    Marianne
    .-= Marianne Vanderkolk´s last blog ..Aug 8, How to begin homeschooling =-.

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