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Characteristics of a Charlotte Mason Education





Copywork, Transcription & Commonplace Books

Living Books

Nature Study 

Book of Centuries

Picture Study and Music Appreciation




Narrating is a foundational component of a Charlotte Mason education. It is also one of the more misunderstood components. To fully understand narration as it will be used in this curriculum, it is important to read most of the articles at the blog on this site. Here are few to get you started: A Charlotte Mason Narration, Narration Misunderstandings Clarified and Transitioning from Oral to Written Narrations. There are quite a few more articles on narration, so certainly read more as you are able. 


Learn more about Charlotte Mason style dictation with this linked PDF blog article: Charlotte Mason Prepared Dictation


Copywork, Transcription & Commonplace Books

Learn more about copywork and transcription with the following linked PDF blog article: A Survey of Charlotte Mason's Transcription and of commonplace books with this linked blog article:  Commonplace Books


Living Books

Elements of a Living Book

Not all of the elements below will be found in all living books, although they will often contain several.

Usually written by one author and would not include textbooks which are organized by a committee

Usually a complete work and not an adapted collection of works or excerpts from many works

Subjects are written by a knowledgeable author

A true literary creation meant to inspire, motivate or challenge the imagination or knowledge of the reader

Often impresses some truth of our world or some beauty of our world upon the reader

The author has built their knowledge base from primary resources

Why are they so important?

Living books are valuable because they provide children with the following:

Exposure to the ideas and thoughts of a knowledgeable author

An opening for the imagination to be developed or to be further expanded

Often has advanced vocabulary and sentence structure

Promotes ideas and thoughts on the reader's part

Prompts new questions and a desire to know more on the reader's part

Consistently sends the message that well-written books are a delight and trustworthy source of information

Consistently teaches a child to look for truth and beauty in all books and, in turn, life

For beautifully republished living books -many used in this curriculum-be sure to look at Living Book Press!

Nature Study

The value of the habit of accurate observation is not to be told, nor the unceasing occupation and interest it has given to children. In this way, a child obtains the power of using his own mind, and he learns the value of correct language and description.

Nature Study in this curriculum will include a study of natural history, the act of nature walks and observations, the keeping of a nature notebook and will often overlap with studies in science. Considered one of the quintessential tenets of a Charlotte Mason education, Nature Study capitalizes on many classical education goals as well.


Purposes of Nature Study


reverence for life

connection with nature

builds the skill of attention

attends to the skill of patience

continues work in classification and discrimination

builds a sense of beauty and truth


The role of the teacher or parent should be one of a positive and genuinely enthusiastic model and guide to the student's own natural discoveries and thoughts, with a focus on providing needed background material before encountering new concepts or studies, an eye on the upkeep and structure of the Nature Notebook and one who keeps the study of nature and natural history a regular occurrence.


Book of Centuries

Learn more about how to create and keep a Book of Centuries with this linked PDF article: Book of Centuries.


The Arts


Picture Study


Picture Study will generally focus on one artist per term, allowing the students to become familiar with each artist's own unique style. This is one area which lends itself well to family style study. Some years will include 4 artists with the idea that one could be included in a summer term, or you may wish to spend 9 weeks on one artist rather than 12 weeks in that particular year.

Music Appreciation

Music Appreciation, like Picture Study, will generally focus on one composer per term, allowing students to become familiar with each composer's own unique style. Careful attention has been paid to which composers are studied in which year to both meet the developmental needs of children in that year and to highlight the history or literature themes for that year's study. A thoughtful focus has been made to include composers of each major era (Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern) along with representatives for opera, ballet and jazz. This area, like Picture Study, is an area which lends itself well to family studies. Some years will include 4 composers with the idea that one could be included in a summer term, or you may wish to spend 9 weeks on one composer over 12 weeks.


Music Technique


Formal lessons with an instrument are a great way to achieve good music technique and theory, but this is not possible for every family. Singing, Sol-fa, Choir and many other activities provide music technique and theory, giving the student opportunities to learn the language of music and a creative outlet of expression while honing motor skills, refining habits and reinforcing discipline.

Art Technique


Equally important is the student's own instruction in the skills and techniques behind creating art. This further augments a student's practice in important habits such as attention and application. Drawing, painting and sculpting are just some of the variations in art techniques practiced and some suggested resources will be included to achieve this.


Learn more about Handcrafts and the role they play in a Charlotte Mason Education with this link to resources: Handcrafts

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