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Charlotte Mason Curriculum and Programs for Homeschooling Families

Updated on February 5, 2013
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Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

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used under licensing agreement | Source

The Charlotte Mason method of teaching has been embraced by homeschoolers but many are confused how to implement it. A number of curricula manufacturers have come to the rescue with Charlotte Mason inspired programs that are preplanned for busy homeschooling parents.

These plans vary from providing the parent with plans for just one subject to plans, resources, and materials for an entire grade level. This makes it easy for anyone to implement the Mason style of learning without needing to read through the entire Charlotte Mason series that was written in the very early 1900s.

What Is the Charlotte Mason Method?

Charlotte Mason, an educator in Victorian Britain, believed that children learned best when the lessons were short and interesting; tailored to the child's age and attention span. There are several key components of this method:

  • Copy work or copying age appropriate classic literature to learn grammar and style
  • Experiential lesson where the child learns by experience as much as possible
  • "Living books" or books that present information in an interesting and entertaining way
  • Nature notebooks are used for recording what the child sees and learns outside
  • Short, exciting lessons, no more than 20 minutes long

Any curriculum that is Charlotte Mason based will include a lot of reading. It is not a program that allows a parent to separate themselves from their child's education. While this is an excellent method it isn't practical for the parent that needs a lot of free time or is unable to work closely with their child during the day

Packaged Charlotte Mason Curriculum

If you are uncomfortable planning your own Charlotte Mason style lessons you will be happy to know that there are a few companies that make curricula and/or have created lesson plans based on this method.

Ambleside Online

Ambleside Online is free for anyone to use. It is an online resource that follows the Mason method very closely, even using the original lesson plans. Including on the site are the lesson plans for every year up through 12th grade, links to many of the required books so that they can be read online without cost, and message boards and articles to allow you to learn more about the method, ask questions, and share information with like minded parents.

Your costs will be quite minimal requiring only basic supplies like paper and pens, access to a library for the books that are not available online, and a computer with Internet access. You will need to supplement the program with a math curriculum that you like and if your child is not reading you will need a phonics/reading program as well.

Five in a Row

Five in a Row (FIAR) is not exclusively Charlotte Mason but its focus on living books makes it very compatible with this method. FIAR is for children from preschool to young elementary and requires a time commitment on the part of the parent. Most of the books used can be found at your local library, making this an affordable curriculum option.

You and your child will read the same book aloud for a week (thus "five in a row") and study different aspects of the book from geography to science. Each week there are a large variety of suggested activities so that you can easily individualize this to the needs of your family.

Mater Amabilis

Mater Amabilis has a very structured approach to the Mason method of learning; more so than most curricula using this method. Students will adhere to a very strict schedule but it allows them to complete a grade level in 36 weeks, with a small time investment of only two hours per day.

Mater Amabilis encourages independent study more so than other programs as well. Students are required to read their own material and books from age nine up, growing more independent each year.

There is a Yahoo group for teacher training as well as support from the site itself. This curriculum is written from a Catholic worldview.


SCM is a Mason curriculum guide from, a site which has been created to encourage parents in all aspects of Charlotte Mason homeschooling. The guide is a loose schedule for each year with suggested books and resources for each grade and tips to implement them in your homeschooling experience.


While Sonlight curriculum is not specifically Charlotte Mason, it does use the Mason concept of living books and short lessons. Your child will read a variety of classic literature and other books do narrations and copy work, and a variety of other activities. You will get lesson plans and schedules, notes, and tips for implementing the program plus you can purchase this curriculum in packages and get it all at once.

Tanglewood School

The Tanglewood School has curriculum up through junior high. They use a combination of both the Mason and Classical approaches for a well rounded, rich learning experience for your child.

The core of this curriculum is the Corebook; a lesson planner and recorder with many more components. In fact, the parent is not given written lesson plans for each day but encouraged to record what has been accomplished each day after the fact. Goals are noted, and a report is made after every six week segment to give you a view of your progress and create accountability.

The concept is more child led than most Classical approaches but more structured than many Charlotte Mason plans, giving your child the best of both ideologies.

Curriculum Guide

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used under license agreement | Source

Charlotte Mason Curriculum for Individual Subjects

If you just want to add a few Charlotte Mason based subjects to your regular homeschool plan you can also do that. Resources based on the Charlotte Mason method include:


On the blog, Charlotte Mason Help there is a plan given for 10 school years worth of music appreciation.


ArtK12 is a curriculum that can be used for history as well as art appreciation. It has a lot of projects for hands on fun as well as information about a variety of artists, art styles, etc.


Making Math Meaningful is one of the primary math programs that is compatible with Charlotte Mason methodology. It uses manipulatives and is good for all learning styles.

Pre-Planned Curriculum Saves Time

The Charlotte Mason method is an excellent way of teaching your children, however reading the full series, written in Victorian language and complex sentence structures, can take more time and concentration than most parents have available. By using curriculum and lesson plans that have already been put together you can save time. This gives you more time to do what you really want to do – teach your children and have quality time together as a family.


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    • mudpiemagnet profile image

      mudpiemagnet 5 years ago

      Thanks for this- I hadn't been aware that there is an art history program out there, and I've been looking for one for my kids- lots of helpful information here!

    • profile image

      sagira 6 years ago

      Good article. Another complete CM curriculum is Living Books Curriculum. I think only Math is not included.

    • profile image

      Mom 6 years ago

      Another great planned CM program that is excellent is Heart of Dakota. She really captured the heart of CM and it shows in her guides! Wonderful program. Christian. PK up through high school (more guides on the way and there are extensions for current jr. high guides to make them worthy of high school)

    • profile image

      Ashlea B 6 years ago

      We are currently researching curriculum for our daughter. We plan to home school starting next fall. We are very interested in the Charlotte Mason style of learning and curriculum. Thanks for these suggestions! I will be looking into these options.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I love the note about how the lesson plans should be short and interesting and tailored to children's age and attention span. Anyone lesson planning should certainly factor age and attention span into the equation. Length of the lesson will depend on age, but interesting should be a must for any lesson. These concepts should all be intuitive, but unfortunately they are not always a priority when people lesson plan.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 6 years ago from North Texas

      Since I wrote my own curriculum, viewing that option as another plus for home schooling, I am just now learning about the different options available to parents who may not be able or willing to write their own curriculum. Not surprisingly, you explained this particular curriculum extremely well. I can see a lot of benefits to the Charlotte Mason Curriculum. I'm voting you up and labeling this hub 'useful.


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