We, believing that the normal child has powers of mind which fit him to deal with all knowledge proper to him, give him a full and generous curriculum, taking care only that all knowledge offered to him is vital, that is, that facts are not presented without their informing ideas. Out of this conception comes our principle that: —“Education is the Science of Relations”; that is, a child has a natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science, and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of—”those first-born affinities”
Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education
A Charlotte Mason Education
I began homeschooling my oldest at the age of 4 years old. Because he was an early reader and seemed to be so bored, I thought starting school would be an excellent idea.
I was busy with a new baby and I thought planning some activities and giving him some worksheets would be just what he needed.
Boy, that was a dumb idea!
By the time he was 6 years old, I had another baby and we were “doing school” for nearly 6 hours per day. Needless to say, no one was having a good time.
I stumbled upon the Charlotte Mason method, but wasn’t quite ready to embrace it so I continued piecing together an eclectic mix of Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Unschooling, which resulted in an endless barrage of starts and stops, tears and frustrations, and an altogether unsuccessful endeavor.
Finally, I came back to Charlotte Mason and have not regretted it.
Charlotte Mason continues to challenge me.
Her method keeps my type A personality completely satisfied, but not overwhelmed.
What Is The Charlotte Mason Method?
Before I can answer completely this most asked question about a Charlotte Mason education, I’ll have to share my experience of learning what a Charlotte Mason Education is not.
A Charlotte Mason education is not relaxed homeschooling or unschooling and, yet, it is completely restful.
The Charlotte Mason method is as she puts it, “The Science of Relations“.
Charlotte’s words oftentimes may be difficult for our modern tongue to interpret, but with a careful reading and years of practice, you will begin to grasp what she means by this phrase.
Charlotte’s genius was a profound understanding of how the personhood of a child and laws of God’s creation naturally cooperate with one another.
Charlotte understood that education happens when the natural curiosities and inclinations of a child are placed in an environment or “atmosphere” where they can be exercised.
That doesn’t mean without boundaries. No! Charlotte understood, as the Scriptures teach, that true freedom is only found within God’s safety net.
So a Charlotte Mason education is one in which the parents train and assist and provide the choicest of selections and then we, the teacher and/or parents, get out of the way.
The child’s natural love for learning will naturally occur as we do this.
Charlotte Mason teaches you how to offer the child a truly rich feast that is delightful and this is what makes her method superior to all the others I have tried.
I wrote this treatise as a quick glance at a Charlotte Mason curriculum for the early elementary years and to supplement my Gentle Learning Homeschool Helper Daily Planner For Elementary Grades 1-3.
How Do I Create My Child’s Schedule Using Charlotte Mason?
If you haven’t already discovered, creating a schedule using Charlotte Mason is not as simple as providing you a list of books to use or a set pattern.
In fact, if you spend any time at all searching the web, you will discover there are numerous resources and opinions on how this is done.
Here at How 2 Homeschool, I too, will share as we go how I create my homeschool schedule.
In fact, you can get a copy of what my year 1 schedule looks like by signing up here.
However, bear in mind, that as you become more familiar with the Charlotte Mason methods and begin piecing together all the rich topics, your schedule will not be exactly like mine or anyone else’s.
Some people prefer a boxed curriculum and as I state in my bio, I am a Charlotte Masonishhomeschooler so I don’t follow any specific curriculum strictly.
I have used everything from Simply Charlotte Mason, to Ambleside Online, to private consults, to immersion conferences, to looking at Charlotte Mason’s own schedules.
What I can tell you is that all of these resources and the numerous ones I will be sharing here on the blog will ALL be helpful in some way or another.
But at the end of the day, you will learn how to create the perfect Charlotte Mason curriculum in the same way your child will learn history and geography and countless other subjects: By the Way.
That is to say, you will learn as you go.
You will learn, change, adapt, relearn, and start again.
Short Cuts and To Be Continued…
My goal with this site is to share how I have learned to homeschool using largely the Charlotte Mason method so you can get a glimpse into the home of ONE FAMILY and maybe even find a friend to help you along the way.
If you’d like a short cut rather than sticking around as I build out this blog, I have written an e-book* which serves as a treatease, if you will, to my how I have implemented Charlotte Mason’s method with my early elementary students. (Grades 1-4).
If there is one group of individuals who suffer from self doubt like no other, it’s the homeschooling mom. Mom guilt is bad enough, but when you throw into the mix the fears about your child’s education and your ability to successfully homeschool, it can be crippling.
In your quest to discover how to homeschool, oftentimes, you may be tempted to reassure yourself by searching for checklists and schedules and homeschooling methods for success.
While all of these tools have their place, they don’t get at the foundational needs of you and your children.
Before you get too caught up in curriculum reviews and homeschooling methods, you should take some time to consider the following steps to achieving daily homeschool success.
Table of Contents
1. Know Your Why
Why do you want to homeschool? As a Christian mother, I know your heart’s desire is to raise your children for God’s glory, but perhaps you have little understanding of how to practically accomplish such a lofty endeavor.
Perhaps you also have creeping fears that you aren’t smart enough, organized enough, or talented enough to give them what they need. Maybe you struggle to strike the right balance between “mother” and “teacher” with your kids.
Before you can hope to have daily homeschool success, it’s important to solidify in your mind why you are homeschooling because there will be days when it will be hard, and there will be times you will have a major case of self doubt.
You may find yourself asking these why’s,
Why, am I doing this?
Why don’t I just send my child to public school?
Why doesn’t my child listen to me?
If I’ve learned anything over the past thirteen years, it’s that if I don’t keep my “why” in the forefront of my mind, I will drown in the self doubt and be tempted to throw in the towel.
Write down your why, laminate it, make a t-shirt if you have to.
I homeschool my children because I believe it is God’s will that I diligently teach them about Him, His Kingdom, and His Creation as we live life together.
As a Christian, the first place to establish your “why” comes from the Bible.
There are numerous passages in the Bible you could choose to inspire your “why” for homeschooling, but this passage in Deuteronomy speaks very clearly to the heart of God regarding our duties to Him with regard to our children.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Do you see that beautiful pattern?
God’s Word says that homeschooling is to be done “diligently….when you sit in your house…and when you walk by the way…and when you lie down…and when you rise.”
You will be teaching your children as you live life EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
This may sound daunting and overwhelming, but as we walk with the Lord, one day at a time, so shall we homeschool.
Yes, there will be curriculum to choose and lesson plans to make, but your “why” and your “how” do not have to be contradictory.
The Lord will help you to consistently and diligently teach your kids as you walk with Him and as you live daily with the children He has given you.
2. Secure Your Own Mask Before Helping Others
If you’ve ever flown in a plane before, you have heard the safety announcement. If you are like most passengers, you have probably heard it so many times that you simply tune it out.
There is a statement that is always made regarding the necessity of wearing the oxygen masks in the event of a plane crash: “Secure your own mask before helping others”
If there ever was a motto that mothers need to adopt to ensure a successful homeschool day, this is it.
Mom, how many times do you attempt to care for your family without securing your own mask?
How often do you run on empty physically, spiritually, and emotionally?
It is a recipe for disaster every single time.
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” CS Lewis
I know it is difficult to find the time in the morning to feed your soul, but as one who has failed many times and who has found that the successful homeschool days only come when I have taken a few minutes to feed my own soul, I implore you to take these steps to feed your soul daily.
Practical Tips For Daily Homeschool Success
Make it a habit to say a prayer of thanks and a prayer for help before you get out of bed. It only takes two minutes, but setting your heart immediately toward thanksgiving and the necessity of the Spirit is crucial to starting your day with the right attitude.
Make Bible Your First Lesson Of The Day. It is best to spend some dedicated time in the Word before the kids get up, but if you find yourself behind on some days, having it be the first lesson in your curriculum ensures that you don’t neglect to read the Bible Every. Single. Day.
Do not hesitate to stop and pray WITH THE KIDS at any point in the day when things go awry. Don’t “lecture” the kids in the prayer, but honestly pour out your heart to the Lord about how things are going and ask for the Spirit’s help. Just quieting everyone down and focusing on the Lord can make a huge difference in everyone’s (especially mom’s) attitudes.
Set aside 30 minutes every day and read 3 books that feed your soul. Set a timer for 10 minutes each. I recommend you always be reading something to encourage you in your homeschooling and mothering journey, something that is challenging (Think those classics you never read in high school) and something that is just for fun. [I confess as a theology nerd sometimes that is what I choose for ‘fun’]. You will be surprised how much you can cover in 30 minutes. If you really can’t find 30 minutes altogether, then do three separate 10 minute sessions.
3. Read Living Books By Successful Homeschoolers
Living books are a necessity in your homeschool classroom and for your children, but what about the living ideas you need as a homeschool mom?
What do you need to read, in order to prepare yourself to successfully homeschool?
What books might offer you encouragement?
I’m not talking about curriculum books with titles like, ‘How to teach a child to read in 100 easy lessons‘, but what books should you read to feed your soul and help you get and keep your “why” firmly in place?
The following books have fed my soul from the beginning and continue to do so today.
I find myself coming back to them again and again for refreshment, homeschooling encouragement, and guidance.
“I do not believe that the personal, free, individual character of education can be preserved when you have a Federal department laying down standards of education which become more or less mandatory to the whole country.” –
J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity and The State
In the early days of my homeschool journey, the Lord began to reform my theology quite a bit.
That is a long story for another day, but needless to say, Jesus had a plan for my sanctification through the process of homeschooling.
I stumbled upon a man from the 1930’s named J. Gresham Machen. He was a Presbyterian minister during a time when our country and our churches were undergoing a tremendous attack by the liberal movement.
His writings have had a tremendous impact on both my theological views as well as my homeschooling views.
There has never been a generation when children have so desperately needed their parent’s time, thoughtful creativity, and friendship. The surrounding culture is deeply out of step with the Word of God. Other pressures threaten to take away sanity, stability, and simple humanity.
Susan Schaeffer Macaulay , For The Children’s Sake
The second most influential book on my homeschooling philosophy was, “For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.
When I first started homeschooling my oldest child, I stumbled upon the ideas of Charlotte Mason and while many of them were quite beyond my mind’s reach at the time, I was drawn to her love of great literature and challenged by the ideas of incorporating nature and handicrafts into my schooling, something I had sorely been deprived in my own education.
However, at the same time that I began exploring homeschooling methods and educational philosophies, I also began having my own theological views challenged and changed.
For reasons that are beyond the scope of this post, I abandoned Charlotte Mason early in my homeschooling career and pursued a Classical/Eclectic approach for the first 2 years of my oldest son’s education.
When my oldest child was 6 years old, he became very ill over the summer. By the time he was recovering and we resumed school, I also had a 2 year old and a newborn, and was trying to give him an entirely too rigorous “Classical” education that I had pieced together using various online resources.
Because my natural (sinful) tendency is prone to anxiety and type A reactions, this way of schooling created an atmosphere of stress for myself as well as my child.
I found myself exhausted and constantly barking at everyone. I was spending little time actually enjoying my children. I was sucking the life out of my 6 year old, and I certainly wasn’t creating an atmosphere conducive to education. One day, I looked up from the dishes, barked at my 6 year old about finishing his lessons, and recognized that this wasn’t the vision I had once had for my children or my homeschool.
Susan Schaeffer Macaulay reintroduced me to Charlotte Mason in a way that I hadn’t previously understood. I was able to digest the ideas of a Charlotte Mason education in a much more tangible way and caught a new glimpse for how to see my children as individuals and how to nourish them.
While it’s true that a Charlotte Mason education is NOT RELAXED homeschooling in the sense that many mean relaxed, it is a much more enjoyable and peaceable atmosphere.
Because Charlotte Mason understood how to work with the natural eagerness for learning that children have, her methods lay a framework for daily success in homeschooling.
I haven’t arrived at fully implementing a Charlotte Mason education in our homeschool, but I have found a much better way to educate my children and enjoy them in the process. I hope as we go along on this journey together to share more about how we are striving to implement more and more of her ideas into our daily routines.
However, even if you don’t think you want to pursue a Charlotte Mason education for your family, I still highly encourage you to read For the Children’s Sake. It is an excellent foundation for your homeschooling mindset and your soul.
If one of your struggles with the Christian homeschool community is that you simply feel inadequate, then, hello friend.
I’m so pleased to make your acquaintance. We are cut from the same cloth.
If you didn’t grow up in a Christian home with a mother who cooked, sewed, and ran the local garden club, then you probably feel much like I did when I first encountered all the blogs and books describing this surreal Victorian era homeschool where kids walk through the woods all day, make blankets from the wool of their own sheep, and prepare home made meals every day.
Around the same time that I rediscovered Charlotte Mason through For the Children’s Sake, I also stumbled upon a blog post written by a woman named Cindy Rollins.
The “ideal” homeschool done the Charlotte Mason way truly inspired me, but I knew myself, and I had little belief that I could actually accomplish these lofty ideas.
I knew that I needed the habits of attention and discipline perhaps even more than my kids and the gauntlet felt too difficult to surmount.
If you have something that you want your children to assimilate like poetry or scripture or music or Shakespeare, forget the grand schemes, forget what the Konos mom is doing down the street, start giving that thing one or two minutes of your time daily and watch the years roll by.
Cindy Rollins, Mere Motherhood
Enter Cindy Rollins, Mere Motherhood, and Morning Time. Now, here is a woman’s story that I can relate to and a system I can follow.
Here is a woman who has practically put into place these principles I love so much…
little by little…day by day… in the midst of
After devouring all that I could online by Ms. Rollins, I discovered recently that she has published a few books.
I recently had the pleasure of reading Mere Motherhood and found myself inspired all over again.
She also has published much of what I read in those early days on her blog about Morning Time in a book.
I highly recommend her books if you are struggling to understand the practical aspects of a living education and you like to laugh.
Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series, 6 Volume Set
It seems obvious that the works of Charlotte Mason, herself, should be on the list.
In full disclosure after over twelve years of homeschooling, I am just now working through them in a consistent and purposeful manner with some other homeschool moms.
While I have read sections and read commentaries and listened to others podcasts about her books, it is only now after all these years that I am beginning to truly grasp her ideas for successful homeschooling.
I hope to begin sharing more of that with you, but if you haven’t read them, I do recommend you add them to your library of living books for your soul. There is much to be gained from her wisdom in educating children.
I hope you see that in order to achieve daily homeschool success, you need to make a few decisions for yourself before you even begin the task of developing a curriculum and choosing a style.
I encourage you to take your time, pray, and feed yourself on good living books and ideas.
Don’t be discouraged if you find that your homeschool philosophy shifts and your why gets rewritten.
That is called sanctification and it is quite normal because, as I have discovered, homeschooling success has as much to do with what God wants to achieve in my life as it does in the lives of my children.
What are your favorite books for feeding the soul?
You Might Also Be Interested In our Other Homeschooling Topics
Are you considering homeschooling your child, but feeling overwhelmed by the thought? I’m so glad you are here. Let’s talk about the fears you have about homeschooling and identify some ways to overcome them and achieve homeschool success.
Table of Contents
How Do I Homeschool When I Am Terrified?
I’ve seen the same question asked over and over in several Facebook groups and forums in which I participate.
“I really want to homeschool my kid, but I am terrified that I will mess him up.”
“I really want to homeschool my kids, but I am terrified I won’t be able to provide everything they need.”
“I really want to homeschool my kids, but I am terrified I will skip things and they will fall behind”
You Homeschool When You Are Terrified One Day At A Time
Perhaps I notice these questions, because I remember them all too well. It wasn’t that long ago that I was asking them myself.
However, after nearly 13 years of being a mom and more than 10 of those being engaged in homeschooling my child, I have learned that homeschooling is really just an extension of your parenting and it happens one day at a time.
I have had all of those thoughts and many more, but as a Christian, I know that the Lord calls parents to raise their children for His glory and that when He calls us to do something, He gives us every good thing we need to do it.
However, I also know, that He doesn’t give it to us all at once. It is day by day, precept by precept, line upon line.
You Homeschool When You Are Terrified by Identifying Your Fears And Tearing Them Down
Many mothers are absolutely terrified of being unable to give their children the education they desperately need. As Christians, however, we have to address these fears from a Biblical perspective.
How many times does our Lord tell us to “fear not”?
The struggle I have with anxiety often boils down to two things:
I am overwhelmed by the big picture
I am not trusting the Lord for TODAY
Achieving homeschool success is a process that takes time.
As with parenting, homeschooling is precept upon precept, line upon line, and most days you will see very little fruit.
You have to accept that you won’t have it all figured out today or tomorrow or next week.
You have to take it as it comes and learn right alongside your children, but in time you will learn the skills you need.
It’s important to have a good homeschool plan in place before the term starts and to have it easily accessible.
Homeschool Planning For Success
One of the best things about a gentle approach and relaxed homeschooling method is the ability to finish morning basket time and table time topics by noon.
The afternoons are reserved for drawing, handicrafts, free reading, and out of door time.
This also happens to be one of the most challenging aspects to homeschooling at times.
The desire to be finished by noon and yet offer such a rich and diverse curriculum can be taxing.
Over the years, I have learned a few things that have helped me to be a consistent homeschool mom and have our lessons finished by noon.
A Good Homeschool Planner
The first key to a successful and consistent homeschool morning is to keep the lessons short.
Short lessons will hold a child’s attention and allow him to fully engage in the topic at hand. Isn’t it true of us as well?
Most of us begin to drift in thought after about 20 minutes.
“You want the child to remember? Then secure his whole attention, the fixed gaze of his mind as it were, upon the fact to be remembered; then he will have it: by a sort of photographic (!) process, that fact or idea is ‘taken’ by his brain, and when he is an old man, perhaps, the memory of it will flash across him.”
Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p. 156-157
For many years, I resisted this truth in narrations, and my children suffered for it.
It goes against my grain when we don’t “finish the chapter” or “section” or whatever I have written in the lesson planner.
In fact, this is why it is so important to think through this when making your homeschool plans and not over schedule your days.
When I, at last, conceded to the wisdom of Charlotte Mason on this, I fell in love with it. It was true!
My kids could learn in short bursts and retain what they learned.
Better still, so could I!
In fact, it is my ongoing goal to increase my own personal reading using the same method.
You would be surprised how much you can accomplish and read by setting aside a short reading period of 30 minutes to read three books across multiple genres. It can also be very rewarding.
You have to keep short lessons and loop scheduling in mind when you are choosing your page selections for each subject when homeschool planning.
It is more important that you keep the reading assignments shorter and allow more time for narrations.
Even if you use a boxed curriculum, I recommend you be realistic with your planning.
I’ve been known to turn a week’s lessons into two weeks or even three in order to keep it to my time table.
Pay particular attention to my story under the section titled, For The Children’s Sake.
When you have little ones in the house while you homeschool, you quickly learn every second counts so eliminating the time you take to hunt for things can dramatically improve your homeschool day.
We have devised a crate system for each child as well as what we call a “weekly box” (not pictured) for the things on our loop schedule.
The system “ideally” goes like this:
Every child has their own crate.
Every child has their own lesson plans (copies of the ones in my homeschool planner) printed out and put into a binder. [Incidentally, I also keep their daily chores in this binder, but that is a post for another day :)].
At the end of the morning, while I prepare lunch, the children check their schedule for the next day and pack their boxes.
Anything that was on the loop schedule goes in the weekly box and will be retrieved when it is on the schedule again.
This has helped tremendously in decreasing the amount of time it takes to “get ready” for each of the subject changes.
The Busy Mom’s Homeschool Planner Bundle
In an effort to help you get your homeschool schedule organized as well as your life, I created The Busy Mom’s Homeschool Planner Bundle.
It’s called a bundle because in includes 4 planners in 1.
The Gentle Learning Homeschool Helper Life Planner & Bible Reading Plans
The Gentle Learning Homeschool Helper Menu Plans
The Gentle Learning Homeschool Helper Lesson Planner
The Gentle Learning Homeschool Helper Term Exam Planning Note Pages
I have found that if I follow the same principles in my daily life that I follow in our homeschool, then my day goes smoother.
What principles are those? Charlotte Mason says,
“Of the three sorts of knowledge proper to a child,—-the knowledge of God, of man, and of the universe,—-the knowledge of God ranks first in importance, is indispensable, and most happy-making”
Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education
Clearly this principle is true for more than just the children so The Busy Mom’s Homeschool Helper includes a 12 month Bible Reading plan to help you spend time with God first.
Additionally, I have found that keeping your plans for other daily activities at a glance along with your homeschool schedule can help as you go throughout your morning to stay organized.
Instead of trying to remember later that grocery item you noticed missing as you were preparing the kids’ morning snack, you can simply grab your planner and jot it down on the grocery list sheet.
You will also find sheets for weekly, monthly, and daily menu planning as well as blank calendars for jotting down appointments that may arise which you can take time to enter into your phone after school is over.
If you can glance at a daily or weekly schedule, have a place to jot down grocery lists as you notice things you are out of, and keep notes for exam questions while the kids narrate, then you have all that you need in once place.
The other principles I have begun using in my daily life include the concept of the short lessons by keeping my reading sessions to 30 minutes and spreading that over 2-3 books.
And, of course, being out of doors whenever we can either at home or on the road.
You Might Also Be Interested In These Other Homeschool Helps