Home homeschooling Homeschooling With Charlotte Mason: Part 6–The Arts

Homeschooling With Charlotte Mason: Part 6–The Arts

by Kelly Crawford

Charlotte Mason’s well-rounded education included a study of the arts for children, beginning at around age 6 (she suggests little “planned” activity or academics before this age).

But just like everything Charlotte Mason, once you understand the model, the “doing” is quite easy.  So easy, in fact, that I think her methods have been brushed off for more complicated studies.  The more one studies Mason’s methods, the clearer it is that she understood the value of a whole education, and that her students had a superior academic experience than many of their counterparts.

I’ve pondered lately what I believe is the “miracle” of art.  That a man or woman can take a pencil and draw an image so that it becomes almost life-like on paper is nothing short of miraculous.  And doesn’t that point expressly to our Creator?  Why do some have voices that cause us to be mesmerized?  How do some know how to take a simple food and make it magnificent?  Compose music?  Make even a discarded item lovely?

And even those who feel they have no “gift” for performing art, even they behold it with a measure of awe, and appreciate what tantalizes the senses–this too, makes them artists, and is miraculous.

This is God in us…and worthy of our attention and admiration and cultivation!

Here are the ways Miss Mason suggested to cultivate the natural love of arts she believed was in every child:

Picture study.

Mason suggested studying 1 artist in a 12 week period, viewing at least 6 works of art.  She also suggested that the parent need say very little about the picture but that the picture could “talk” itself to the child.   A question or two may be helpful to get the child to ponder the work, but a simple familiarity and visual study is sufficient.  Having the child draw an illustration of the work draws his powers of attention to detail and was always encouraged.

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.”

Composer study.

With the same frequency as above, Mason suggested that the child simply be exposed to classical works of music.  Selections playing in the background at home was enough.  I’ve always tried to catch free concerts and such to attend when possible.  Hearing live, beautiful music can really spark a passion in a child, even at a very early age.

In addition, just having instruments in the home, available for investigation, can spark interest in music.  Miss Mason also encouraged singing!


Mason believed children need to be productive with their hands.  Clay, needlework, knitting, crocheting, painting, blocks, etc., were suggestions to keep little minds and hands active and creating.  Other suggestions might be wood carving, card-making, cooking, and I’m sure you can think of many more!

Poetry, Mason believed, was best received by hearing and not critiquing.   So you get a feel for part of the faith she had; that marvelous things are planted in the hearts and souls of children, waiting to grow, and may in fact, grow best when simply left to flourish.

Note:  There are lots of places on the web from where you can print famous artist’s works.  Here is a great place to find Leonardo da Vinci’s.

Part 1-Homeschooling With Charlotte Mason Series

Part 2-Homeschooling With Charlotte Mason: Living Books

Part 3-Homeschooling: Charlotte Mason: The Schedule is Your Servant

Part-4Homeschooling with Charlotte Mason: Writing, Spelling and Grammar

Part-5Homeschooling With Charlotte Mason: Nature Study

Part 7–Homeschooling With Charlotte Mason: Daily Plans


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Sarah DeGroot October 27, 2009 - 10:47 am

Kelly, Thank you so much for these posts on Charlotte Mason’s method! I recently got married and my mother gave me Mason’s book. I’m so excited to be learning more about the method and I can’t wait to read the book. Thought it will be a few years before I start homeschooling, I’m loving studying about it now. Thank you for the summaries. They have been very helpful!

Jennifer October 27, 2009 - 5:08 pm

I love this series! Written out in the blog posts it seems less overwhelming. I have been praying and reading about different homeschooling approaches recently (My children are 5 and 20 months) and the CM approach is really speaking to me. I have ordered some children’s books from the AO list and added more nature/outdoor time. We have already been doing verse memory, chatecism, and Bible reading. The more I learn about this approach the more I can’t wait to be homeschooled right along with my family.

PS-I have been reading your blog for a while and praying for a LONG time about stopping all birth control (we used NFP before). My husband’s tipping point came after reading your blog (especially the video you posted about population)! That was a few months ago and I am not pregnant yet because I am nursing my 20 month old. Even though I would like to have another baby I just feel so much peace in my heart since recognizing He has a perfect plan for my family’s life. Thank you for speaking the truth in love so we can all help each other grow as followers of Christ.

In Christ,

Word Warrior October 27, 2009 - 5:28 pm


Your comment is a real blessing..thank you.

Word Warrior October 27, 2009 - 5:33 pm

Jennifer (and anyone else interested)…

I think you can read all of CM’s original “Homeschooling Series” at http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/toc.html…literally an ocean of information–about life, not just about homeschooling 😉

KB October 27, 2009 - 11:49 pm

Hi Kelly,
Another resource for exposure to classical music are DVD’s featuring black-and-white film footage of amazing musicians such as Nathan Milstein and and Yehudi Menuhin from EMI classics. You can order them from Amazon.com, search using “EMI classics.” (What I have I’ve bought locally to support the mom-and-pop business in my community).

P.S. I’ve been reading along, but not posting. Last week our latest, precious bundle of joy finally arrived-Praise God! I admit I did wonder how it was possible for a mom and dad of four or more to love each of their children as much as a mom and dad of two or three. Now I know the answer: your heart gets bigger.
I second Jennifer’s comment that it is a blessing to have sisters like you who live out the belief that children are indeed a blessing from the Lord. (Oh, and thank you so much for your very frank description of your natural childbirth experience! Very, very, very helpful!)

Word Warrior October 28, 2009 - 9:35 am


Congratulations!!! It is SO true about your heart expanding to love each child. (I am in the middle of writing a poem about that very thing!)

There are no bounds to Mother-love…cuddle and kiss that baby!

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