A Charlotte Mason Education, Childlight USA Conference, Homeschooling, Mason Co-op, New to CM, Newcomers, Philosophy
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Beginning a Charlotte Mason Education (Or How to Begin Your Journey Into Delightful Living) by Gladys Schaefer


Angel, a beautiful young mom, very pregnant with their second child, caught me after class to ask me about homeschooling.  I started gushing about Charlotte Mason. Their first child, a five year old, is one of the delights of our church. His joy in life and his easy ability to make friends with any age always puts a smile on my face.

The Wonderful Aiden

Another Sunday brought me similar inquires from Jodi, a mom of three lively preschoolers, and my own daughter, Samantha, the mother of our beautiful grandchildren and I are in a long standing discussion of the pros and cons of homeschooling vs. public schooling vs. private schooling.  We do agree on following, as closely as possible, the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason.


 My Granddaughter Zoe

This article is an attempt to provide a reference point for those searching for information on this educational journey and to a path that leads to a wonderful way of life.


It may be that the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge to awaken them to delightful living.”  This quote from the preface of the last published book of Mason, “Towards a Philosophy of Education,” summarizes, I believe, the passion behind her never ending fight to offer children the best and brightest of educations.  It is the touchstone of the new vision of Childlight USA.

Children are born persons is a CM distinctive.

1925 Edition of “Towards A Philosophy of Education”

This is the first point in the twenty-item summary of her teachings, now printed in each of her six-volume works, that she originally titled, “A Short Synopsis of the Educational Philosophy Advanced in This Volume.”    Today, an Internet search of “Charlotte Mason’s Twenty Principles” will lead to the original language and to modern paraphrases.  This is an excellent place to begin. Think of it as the starting line at a Marathon Race.

After reading a summary of Mason’s writings, I would advise the following journeys

1. Attend a conference or retreat, if possible.

2. Books to read:

Mason’s Six-Volume Set:

Home Education

Parents and Children

School Education


Formation of Character

Towards a Philosophy of Education

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake:

This is the book that introduced me to Mason, and to say it changed my life is an understatement. I share this book on an ongoing basis when anyone asks me for educational help.  I recently purchased it as an audio book and listened to it again. It had been seventeen years since I had originally read it.  It is still fresh and true.

3. Charlotte Mason Schools

If you are lucky enough to live near a CM school, you are lucky enough.  These bastions of knowledge offer shared wisdom and structured application of Mason’s directives.

4. Charlotte Mason Cooperatives

These also offer opportunities to practice the wisdom outlined in her books. Many times this is simply a group of parents who band together once or twice a week to share living books, nature study and other ingredients imperative in an authentic CM education.

I have lead a group of high school students this year in a Friday group called “The Gathering” and we have studied Shakespeare, Poetry, Current Events, and have taken numerous field trips exploring our Alabama heritage. We usually met in coffee shops around Birmingham.

 Current Events at The Gathering

5. Reading Groups

If all this reading and planning sounds overwhelming, start or join a once-a-month reading group, with dessert and coffee, to work through one of the volumes.   The joy of shared discovery and friendships adds depth and value to the journey.

Do you have other resources that have helped you?  Please share them on the comments section.

Blessings and Peace,

© 2012 Gladys Schaefer, Childlight USA Board Member


Carroll Smith has spoken on various topics related to Charlotte Mason. Currently he teaches at Gardner-Webb University and enjoys working with children, teachers, college students, and Charlotte Mason Institute. He was a teacher and a principal for 21 years before coming to Gardner-Webb University where he has been for six years. Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, he attended East Carolina University for his undergraduate degree and his master's in school administration. He completed his terminal degree and wrote his dissertation on Charlotte Mason at Virginia Tech. Carroll enjoys reading, gardening, and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, and their two young adult college-age children, Corban and Anna, enjoy living, working and playing in North Carolina.


  1. http://www.amblesideonline.org is also a valuable resource. I think I might go there first. They have collected a plethora of resources for newbies! All in one place. It can be overwhelming, but you can take it a little at a time. Thanks, Gladys, and thank you for what you are doing with high schoolers!

  2. Resources that have helped me? Ambleside Schools, Intl videos are excellent. I learn a lot from different Charlotte Mason blogs. Simply Charlotte Mason often has good articles that explain CM principles. I’ve not read many CM books besides her 6 volumes, but When Children Love to Learn was a great read for me.

  3. Thank you so much, Gladys! There is an ever growing flood of ‘CM ‘ resources nowadays. It can be overwhelming and confusing for those just setting out. I think your post will be a helpful starting point to direct those mothers to who have expressed a desire to set out on the delightful journey that Charlotte proposed should be accessible to all children. Her way of education really does make for an improvement in our way of life. This is especially useful for believers and can help us serve as a light shining in the dark, confused and lost culture that today we find ourselves in.

  4. I think it might help people to know that this journey becomes a beautiful way of life, not just a way to educate your children. It is okay to stumble on the road and feel lost for awhile. Most of us felt that way in the beginning.

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