What is a Charlotte Mason Education with Bible Principles Like?

A Charlotte Mason education stands on the belief that we must educate the whole person and not just the mind. In essence, Charlotte Mason is referring to, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” I think that this is why it’s easy to teach it with Bible Principles. And I think that Mr. Noah Webster would agree about this definition of education. For in his definition he states:

“EDUCA’TION, noun [Latin educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”

For Christian homeschooling parents who want to implement Charlotte Mason’s ideas and teach Bible Principles, this is what it’s like…

Defining Charlotte Mason and the Principle Approach® Methods

In short, Charlotte Mason’s definition is:

“Charlotte Mason was a British educator who believed that education was about more than training for a job, passing an exam, or getting into the right college. She said education was an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life; it was about finding out who we were and how we fit into the world of human beings and into the universe God created.”

Anna White, AmbelsideOnline.org

Specifically, the Principle Approach® method’s definition is:

“The Principle Approach has been called “reflective teaching and learning.” It is America’s historic method of Biblical reasoning which places the Truths (or principles) of God’s Word at the heart of education. Each subject is predicated upon God’s Biblical principles and students are taught to think and reason from principles and leading ideas using The Notebook Method to Research, Reason, Relate and Record.”

The Foundation for American Christian Education

In many cases, the two overlap in such a lovely way. In some ways they differ. And yet the Principle Approach® has a way of making learning deeper and richer. But let me show you how they work well together.

Of note, I’ll mostly refer to the Charlotte Mason method as CM and the Principle Approach®  method as the PA method.

The Whole Person

Children are whole people: body, mind, spirit, will, and emotion. Obviously, our Heavenly Father creates us this way from the moment of conception. It isn’t something that just happens once people reach adulthood. For this reason, the Charlotte Mason education and the Principle Approach® method work beautifully together. Because the Principle Approach®  method also focuses on the child as a whole person and God’s Principle of Individuality.

Living Books

Many families educate with a CM education because of its heavy emphasis on literature. Stories impact our lives in amazing ways. Both CM and the PA prefer living books, allowing for children to learn from passionate authors. Certainly, it’s much more interesting to read about a topic when it’s written by someone who loves it. And narration makes a subject “come alive.”

Important to realize is that not all books are of the same quality, regardless of how classic they are. Christian parents desire to wisely choose literary companions for their children. And they also want to teach Christian character in Literature studies. With this in mind, we don’t rush through subjects any more than we would a pleasant visit with a companion. Rather, we dig for the basic Bible Principles of each subject as the PA method calls for.

How do we do that? Well, we simply consider the descriptions of ideas, morals, and actions. And whichever one we want to highlight, we research about to see what God has to say about it. For the most part, the tools we use are Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, a concordance, and a Bible. Indeed, it’s as easy as that. Plus, we use a T-Chart to jot down the internal and external qualities of characters.

Making Connections

In order for children to learn, they need to make personal connections. CM and the PA require narration from living books, helping to instill in their minds what they’ve read. The PA method calls this relating. In fact, this ability to tell back is important for relating not only what they’ve read. But also it helps them with the ability to relate to what they’ve read.

Especially when it comes to the Bible Principles they cover with their parents. Specifically, it helps them to shape their thinking in light of what the Bible teachings on attitudes and actions. Combining the Principle Approach® method of thinking cause to effect, our lessons are all the more richer. For this, we often times will use a Cause to Effect Graphic Organizer to help them sort the ideas. And it’s lovely to keep their notes in a three-ring binder.

Truly, this is one of the most important good habits a child can form.

Handwriting and English Lessons

Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching handwriting is to have children copy passages from quality literature. And happily the Principle Approach® method has us go about English lessons in this way. Specifically, students copy and diagram from a current literature study they’re doing. It’s the most suitable way to simplify and reinforce what they’re learning while they copy and diagram.

Time Out of Doors

One of the most delightful aspects of a CM education is the emphasis of spending time in God’s Creation. For as the PA method points out, there is much poetry to be found in His Creation. Not only is the opportunity there to talk about the days of Creation with our children. But also we can point out how God is the Creator of music and poetry as seen in His Creation. Plus, there’s so much to learn from God’s Creation as we interact with it.

Naturally, Creation is God’s artwork and handiwork. Therefore, it’s nothing at all to make observations and sketches of it for art and craft lessons. But even more than that, the PA allows for us to consult the Bible to learn about the basic principles of art. This means that we point our children back to God by learning the foundations of art in the Bible. Such as, where does the idea of shapes come from? And how can we reason from Scripture about the creations of color?

Length of Lessons

A CM education recommends 15-20 minute lessons at a time. Once students are older, more time is added to lessons Truly, with any curriculum or method, this can be the case. For parents always have the liberty to decide this.

In Conclusion

Certainly, there are some aspects of a CM education and of her beliefs that Christians don’t share. As can be seen though, these aspects in the article are agreeable with a Principle Approach® method of education.

To recap the steps:

  • Research vocabulary from your lesson topic with Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, a concordance, and the Bible.
  • Reason the Biblical Principle from your research.
  • Relate what from the research.
  • Record it and file it in a notebook or field journal.


Since it’s so easy to apply Bible Principles in a CM education, do you think you’ll begin doing this? If you already use CM and apply Bible Principles, what does it look like for your homeschool? Won’t you share in a comment below?


If you’re like minded, join our homeschool community of facebook: Christian Homeschooling With Bible Principles.

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  1. Thank you so much Heather – good article. I put the PA aside because of the learning curve, but still see so much value in its approach. We are currently educating from the CM method and I’m seeing its fruit in our daughter. However, you have given me pause in that I could integrate certain aspects of the PA. Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome, Ann. I’m thankful that it’s helpful to you.

  2. wow, it seems this CM method is very similar than the Montessori, isn’t it? what are your thoughts about it?

  3. This is perfect! Could you expand on how they differ?