Make your own free website on

Charlotte Mason Approach: Family Fun

by Penny Gardner

Photo Purchased From
Photographer: Wouter van Caspel

Popular author Penny Gardner describes how Charlotte Mason's methods enhanced literacy, writing skills, and family sharing of literature, nature, and many other aspects of life.

Why do I use the Charlotte Mason method of education in our home? Lots of reasons. I first started using Miss Mason's ideas because I had a fifth-grade child who was not writing. Her attempts went something like this: “The cat is cute. Its fur is soft. I like cats.”

Compare that “essay” with this story:

When Squanto was a boy, he saw a white man's ship. He told everyone. His mom said the white man had magic--even a fire stick. All of the Indians made a big feast but the white men did not come.

When Squanto woke up, his mom and dad were not up. He got some cornmeal for breakfast and started walking. Then he saw them. He remembered his mom's warning about fire sticks. A white man had one and shot it. That made Squanto duck. He felt a hand on his shoulder. He stood up and the white men laughed. Then one said something Squanto could not understand.

But then a man said something Squanto could understand. It was “friend” in his own language!

This is just the beginning of a beautifully composed, 11-handwritten page narration the same child wrote within a week of the pathetic piece about the cat. Is it any wonder that I'm a CM enthusiast? This method also met the needs of my next child who is dyslexic. He listened to me read and orally narrated years before he was capable of reading and writing on his own.

But the Charlotte Mason approach is more than narration. It is a broad and liberal education. It is a living education instead of a dull, boring textbook approach. It is limiting academics to a few hours of concentrated effort a day and having time to pursue other interests and hobbies. It is family oriented.

It is reading classic literature together as a family. It is studying fine art in a fun and meaningful way. It is listening to great music and poetry. It is visiting museums and attending concerts, ballets, and plays. It is exercising and playing outside in the fresh air and sunshine. It is frequently enjoying nature and keeping a nature notebook. It is establishing relations with natural materials, interesting people, and God. It is having a well-rounded, balanced, happy, rich, and productive family life. This approach strengthens the family and enriches it with traditions. It is a life -- a family-friendly life.

Copyright Penny Gardner. This article was originally published at her web site and is reprinted here with her permission.

Penny Gardner, author of Charlotte Mason Study Guide: A Simplified Approach to a Living Education and several other books, is the mother of six children, ages 20 to 4. Penny has degrees in Elementary Education and Music Education. She taught in public schools for four years before marrying. She has tutored her children at home for thirteen years. Penny was convinced of the power of Charlotte Mason's approach to education in 1994 after a truly miraculous first experience with narration and her non-writing 5th grade child. She is an enthusiastic fan of Charlotte Mason's innovative concepts and has many examples and ideas to share. She regularly speaks and writes on this educational approach. She is often invited to speak to homeschool groups nationwide that are interested in learning more about the Charlotte Mason approach. If you would like to have Penny present her inclusive, multimedia 6-hour seminar in your area, get more speaking information here. You will also find a wealth of information at her website.

Growing Together Family Learning Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 3, page 7

Previous Page

Front Page

Next Page