Charlotte Mason Method

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)

Who Was Charlotte Mason?


Charlotte Mason was a British educator and philosopher at the turn of the twentieth century. She was a teacher for ten years at Davison School in Worthing, England. During these years, Mason developed her vision for “a liberal education for all.”  English children during the 1800s were educated solely according to their social class. Families who were poor were taught a trade. The richer class was taught through literature and the fine arts. Charlotte envisioned a generous and broad curriculum being provided for all children, no matter their social class.

Mason went on to teach for five years at the Bishop otter Teacher Training College in Chichester, England. There she gave a series of lectures about the education of children under nine. These lectures were later published as a book entitled Home Education.

A year later, in 1887, she co-founded the Parents’ National Educational Union (PNEU) with Emeline Steinthal. The organization provided resources to parents who were educating their children at home.

Between 1890 and 1892, Mason developed a close relationship with Henrietta Franklin. It was considered that meeting Mason was the “inspiring experience” of Franklin’s life.

In 1891, Mason moved to Ambleside, England and established the House of Education. The school trained governesses and others working with young children.

In 1892, Henrietta Franklin opened the first school in London that was based on Mason’s educational philosophy and methods. It was called the Parents’ Review School and later became Parents’ Union School.

During the years that followed, Mason wrote and published other books explaining her educational theories. The books would eventually be known as Charlotte Mason’s Education Series, which included Home Education, Parents and Children, School Education, Ourselves, Formation of Character and Towards a Philosophy of Education. The books were written over a forty-year time period. Some of her methods and principles changed over the years. Her most recent revisions were included in Towards a Philosophy of Education.

Charlotte Mason focused on respecting each child as a born person and providing a broad education that was available to every child.