The Charlotte Mason method is founded on Charlotte’s belief that every child is a born person. She spent her life teaching others how to educate that whole person. The Charlotte Mason way is a method of educating your children using three educational instruments-the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit and the presentation of living ideas.
An Atmosphere was defined as the child’s natural environment.
A Discipline was defined as the training of good habits, especially those habits of character.
A Life refers to the exposure of living thoughts and ideas.
Living Books were the spines in a Charlotte Mason education. She only used living books that were written from a first hand experience, rather than textbooks with dry facts. The living books had a narrative quality and seemed to “come alive.”
Narration was the tool Charlotte used to have her students tell back in their own words what they read from each living book. She believed that narration secured the information from a book in the child’s mind. Her students did not use multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank tests; instead they practiced using a rich language as they narrated from their living books.
Habit Formation was a primary focus for Charlotte Mason. She wanted children to be instructed in good habits and character traits. Charlotte practiced the habit of attention daily by planning short lessons to keep students focused. The motto for her students was “I am, I can, I ought, I will.” “ ‘I am’––we have the power of knowing ourselves. ‘I ought’––we have within us a moral judge, to whom we feel ourselves subject, and who points out and requires of us our duty. ‘I can’––we are conscious of power to do that which we perceive we ought to do. ‘I will‘––we determine to exercise that power with a volition which is in itself a step in the execution of that which we will.” (Vol. 1, p. 330)