Electronics in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool?!?!


I know you think about all the electronics, television, cell phones, and video games being thrown at our kids these days and get a sinking feeling in your stomach.

It’s everywhere. There is no escaping electronics in the digital age we live in.

The messages are coming at us from all sides – “NEVER ever ever let your children watch television or play video games- they’ll turn into violent serial killers” …..”Videos are now vital to education, you can’t teach without them”…and on and on it goes until our heads spin.

We get asked frequently about what place digital media has in a Charlotte Mason education.

Since the height of her work was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it’s not a topic that CM addressed directly herself of course.

But it’s a huge part of everyday life in the 21st Century. And in this digital age, the reality is, our children WILL come into contact with digital media.

In fact, the vast majority of our children are going to spend a lot of time working on computers, phones, or tablets, regardless of what industry they end up in as adults. We would do them a disservice by not incorporating these things into their education.

BUT, as their guides in the educational process, it is important that we model good use of electronics and set them up to make informed choices about the amount and type of digital content they consume.

That’s really one of the foundational purposes of Charlotte Mason education- to prepare the child to be a critical thinker who investigates and learns for himself in all settings.


Here are 4 tips for managing electronics in a CM education:

  1.       The YOUNGER the child, the LESS digital media.

Young children’s brains are still developing and screen time can literally interrupt the forming of neurological pathways.

The work of childhood is discovery and imagination.

Watching videos robs the child of this ability to imagine the scene for himself as he does when listening to a book being read aloud or reading one for himself.

If the young child becomes accustomed to having the scenes played out for him, it is much more difficult to interest him in books later as he has not developed the skill of imagining a scene for himself.


  1.       Digital media MUST SUPPLEMENT, not replace, your core materials.

Literature, art, nature, and music are still your primary teachers.

Similarly to the young child who never learns to imagine scenes for himself, the child who has their core materials replaced with digital media will soon lose the skill of imagination as the “muscle” of the brain is not exercised.


  1.       Use high-quality digital media.

The same criteria for choosing living books also applies to choosing videos, games, or other digital learning tools.


Look for things like documentaries or observations of real-live animals, nature, or events versus pre-packaged “lessons” artificially engineered to teach a specific topic for children.


Movies with high level graphics or music that leave the viewer open to interpret meanings, morals, and lessons for themselves are also good choices for the occasional relaxing family night.


  1.       Remain involved.

Having active discussions with your child during the use of digital media mitigates many of the negative side effects of the screen time.

If there is high-quality music involved, sing the songs together!

Watching a documentary or biography? Split it up over multiple days and have the kids narrate after each section.


Electronics are everywhere! But, we don’t have to fear them. They do have a place in your child’s education.

Follow the four simple tips:

  1. The younger the child, the less digital media
  2. Digital media must supplement, not replace, your core materials
  3. Use high-quality digital media
  4. Remain involved


This will ensure that you are modeling good use of electronics and setting your child up to make informed choices about the amount and types of media they consume in the future.


Eager to learn more about Charlotte Mason and the Digital Age?

Join us LIVE August 12th 2017 for A Day of Charlotte Mason


Early registration is open now just for you!

We also want to offer you amazing bonuses including a private Facebook community just for this event. But there is only space for 100 individuals in the bonuses so make sure you register today. Registration is now open to the public.

There will be a keynote address, 6 workshop options, and a Q & A session during which we:

  • Break down all the little details of a Charlotte Mason Education so that you can clearly see which parts of your homeschool are out of alignment AND how to get them connected back together
  • Have plenty of Q & A time to make sure you go back confident knowing exactly how to apply the techniques to your specific situation
  • Fellowship with other CMers to plug into a community of support

Potential topics include:

  •         Charlotte Mason and the Digital Age
  •         Music- The Glue of Your Child’s Learning and Growth
  •         Charlotte Mason Homeschooling and Your Parenting Style
  •         Assessment
  •         Nature Study
  •         Writing/Narration
  •         Charlotte Mason High School
  •         Charlotte Mason Preschool


BONUSES for early bird registration! Only available for the first 45 registrants.

–          Register to attend live and get the recordings FREE

–          Access to private Facebook community

$35 for individual or $45 per couple

Limited Childcare Available. Reply to this email to save a spot for your child.


We want to include our long-distance friends too!

Pre-register to receive all 6 workshops and the keynote address recordings for $30


Access to private Facebook community- ONLY for the first 55 registrants!

  • Network with other CMers
  • Submit questions you want to see answered in the workshops
  • Ask follow-up questions and re-create the live experience with a Q & A thread for each session where you get to post your top Q about the topic and we’ll reply with a video addressing it just for you.


Click here to secure your spot for this event and bonuses.


Three Ways to Sloooow Down and Enjoy Christmas

This christmas-logopost is an old favorite of mine. I wrote it some years ago when I was a mother of a young one and desperately needed to find a way to sloooow down. Enjoy….Sheila Carroll

Secret #1

Call off homeschool for the Christmas season. 

You are probably saying, “What! That will put me behind in our school work.” Years ago, my homeschooling mentor told me that she suspended regular homeschooling for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Instead she had the learning relate to Christmas-stories, math, crafts, cooking, writing and so on. I tried it. Instead of stress and burnout, it was fun and real learning was taking place. You might want to try it?

Secret #2

Read Christmas stories together every day

Another question which shows up this time of year is ‘How can I slow down the Christmas rush?’ The answer is: By reading high quality Christmas stories together. Sound too simple?

We started a family tradition of reading a Christmas story each day for the seven days before Christmas. It was a big hit. At the time my daughter was in her early teens and not willing to listen to “baby stories”. I scoured the Internet and library and found a wonderful selection. Just the commitment to sit together 15-20 minutes a day to read these special stories made our pulses slow and the smiles come back.

I put them into a notebook for future Christmases. The Christmas Holiday Helper will be coming your way in a day or two. In it are some of the same stories my family enjoyed. Be blessed and love one another the more this holy season.

Secret #3

Enjoy the Christmas story in great art

Children need the images of Christ’s birth etched in their hearts. What better way to do it than through the art of the masters. Charlotte Mason expressed this idea very eloquently:

The study of such pictures (are) a valuable part of a child’s education; it is no slight thing to realize how the Nativity and the visit of the Wise Men filled the imagination of the early Masters, and with what exceeding reverence and delight they dwelt upon every detail of the sacred story. This sort of impression is not to be had from any up-to-date treatment, or up-to-date illustrations; and the child who gets it in early days, will have a substratum of reverent feeling upon which should rest his faith. But it is well to let the pictures tell their own tale. The children should study a subject quietly for a few minutes; and then, the picture being removed, say what they have seen in it. It will be found that they miss no little reverent or suggestive detail which the artist has thought well to include.

~From Home Education, pp. 245-253

Studying these wonderful pictures with your children should not be a burden or an art lesson. Simply look at the pictures together and let the children tell you what they see. Do not interpret for them. Let the children encounter the pictures on their own and let the Holy Spirit speak to them through the images.

There are several excellent sources online for art. One I especially like is Art and the Bible (http://www.artbible.info ). Once on the site, type “Nativity” or “Birth of Christ” in the search box and you will find many examples of great art.

Will the real Thanksgiving please stand?

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for our bounty in life. Right? Yes, but that is not the real reason we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Okay, then, Thanksgiving is a time to have reenactments of the Pilgrims like at the first thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony in 1621. Right?

Actually, no, the harvest festival of the Pilgrims was in gratitude for the less than fifty-percent who survived the first winter in a new land. Those who survived did so chiefly because of the compassion of the Native-Americans. But, that is not why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

thanksgivingIt most definitely was not the reason for our current holiday. (See the end of the article for my free Thanksgiving Holiday Helper.)

Okay, okay, Thanksgiving was a holiday started after some war, probably World War One or Two. Right? Almost right. It was a war, our first as a nation.

On October 11, 1782, mere months before the end of the American Revolution, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation for a day of giving thanks. The Congress expressed in their document that they were mindful of God’s hand on their behalf in the war of independence from monarchical rule. The establishment of a nation of self-ruled individuals was, indeed, cause for gratitude.

The Congress chose November 28, 1782 as the date. Congress recommended that all thirteen states give thanks on this day for the creation of the new nation and for God’s hand in it. Further, they stated that all pray, give cheerful obedience to His laws and practice true religion. True religion in Biblical terms is care of widows, orphans and to keep oneself pure from evil practices.

The proclamation read in part: We do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies.

In those earlier times, states had far more independence than now. This proclamation was not binding on all states. As a result not all celebrated and of those that did, some celebrated on a day other than November 28. New York was the first state to make Thanksgiving a legal holiday (1817).

By the Civil War most states celebrated Thanksgiving a state holiday. But, remember, this was still an occasion to give thanks to God for His provision, mercy and guidance–not to celebrate the harvest feast of the Pilgrims. Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863 that there should be a national day on the last Thursday in November. He issued this proclamation after three and one-half years of bloodshed and sorrow. His proclamation was all the more touching in that he spoke of the loss and pain, then said, “Notwithstanding…” and went on to declare God’s presence and care in the midst of suffering.

Since that day each sitting president has issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would be on the third Thursday in November. In 1941 Congress approved that declaration.   In 2007, President George Bush issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation referring back to the original one issued by the Continental Congress in 1782: Our country was founded by men and women who realized their dependence on God and were humbled by His providence and grace.

What should you be grateful for this Thanksgiving? Consider this: God has preserved us as a nation for over 230 years, in spite of wars, depression, disease, dissent and difficulty. What a good and gracious God.

I wish you a truly grateful Thanksgiving.

Want help to homeschool at Thanksgiving in a meaningful way? Get my free Thanksgiving Holiday Helper by clicking the link. Download Your PDF Now >>

What Is the Real Cost of Homeschooling?


Depending on how you look at it, homeschooling is cheap — or expensive.

Let’s say you spend $500 per child per year. When you compare that with the public school system which spends $5000-8000 per child each year, that’s cheap.

But, if you are a one-income family, as most homeschooling families are, and you have 3-5 children that might seem expensive.

Michael Farris of the Homeschool Legal Defense Fund says:

The average cost per student in the public school is $6,000 per year. What does it cost to homeschool a student? In 1996 national survey found that the average family spent $546 to homeschool their child…principally for curriculum materials…homeschoolers save U.S. taxpayers about 7.5 million dollars per year.

One of the delights of a Charlotte Mason education is the cost.
The homeschooling family buys high quality literature that become part of the family library. They have a long-term relationship with the books, rather than a textbook or workbook that will be tossed out or sold at the next curriculum sale. The cost can be quite low.

In contrast, another author on the topic of the cost of homeschooling argued that parents must make sure their child can compete with public school children:

The actual cost of educating a child at home is surprisingly high. Up-to-date textbooks, course materials, a library, computing equipment, lighting, specially designed furniture all cost money.

Specially designed furniture? Up-to-date textbooks? Nothing could be further from the tenets of a Charlotte Mason education. The furniture of the home is the best possible for a child. Of course, the table may have to be adapted for writing, but a large dictionary works just fine.

“Up-to-date” textbooks are not what they seem. They are generally acknowledged to be dumbed down to in order appeal to the lowest common denominator. William J. Bennetta, author of the Textbook Letter, says:

Of course, schoolbook companies can’t promote these books by saying outright that the books are aimed at backward students and dullards, so some companies have taken to using a code-phrase. The phrase is all students, as in “This is a book for all students.” Knowing that all students means the least capable and worst-prepared students.

So if you don’t buy into glitzy textbooks and workbooks, the cost can be quite modest.

The Real Cost of a Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Where does this leave us regarding the cost of homeschooling? Right where we should be, if we faithfully follow Miss Mason’s methods. A CM homeschool should have a few math books, penmanship and copy books, perhaps a science or language book for the later grades, paper and pencil, craft supplies, lots of inspiring art and music. The rest should be captivating, well-written, well-told books that delight and refresh.

Living Books Curriculum strives to provide such books. In fact, our curriculum packages usually contain at least 40 books–all carefully chosen. The cost of our curriculum, which includes all standard academic subjects (except math), is less than $2 a day. The literature becomes part of a family’s permanent collection, and the sharing of music, poetry, art and nature study build family closeness that lasts a lifetime.

What is the real cost of a Charlotte Mason education? Priceless.

A Little Charlotte Mason…Does It Work?

A mother wrote me the following: ” We use unit studies along with a little Charlotte Mason and classical. Which grade level do you charlottemason-yatessuggest when choosing your curriculum?”

Another, on a well-known forum said, “I use living books, we go on nature walks and I have my children narrate–aren’t I pretty much already doing a Charlotte Mason education?”

For all our dear readers, please know that adding any component of a Charlotte Mason education will enhance the learning experience of your children, especially high quality literature and narration.

However, and this is a BIG however….

Unless you are in agreement with the 20 Principles and apply them to the best of your ability, you won’t get the kind of results seen in Miss Mason’s students. A Charlotte Mason education is one that fully embraces the principles as detailed in her books.

Charlotte Mason wrote in A Philosophy of Education:

The reader will say with truth,–‘I knew all this before and have always acted more or less on these principles’; and I can only point to the unusual results we obtain through adhering, not ‘more or less,’ but strictly to the principles and practices I have indicated. I suppose the difficulties are of the sort that Lister had to contend with; every surgeon knew that his instruments and appurtenances should be kept clean, but the saving of millions of lives has resulted from the adoption of the great surgeon’s antiseptic treatment; that is, from the substitution of exact principles scrupulously applied, for the rather casual ‘more or less’ methods of earlier days.

If you would like to see greater breadth and depth in your child’s learning, then consider giving CM a full year’s trial without mixing it together with other methods. You will never regret it. I promise.

Do good books really matter to your homeschool?

Homeschooling five year-old  Bridget was fun and absorbing. We made mud pies (science and nature study), did finger plays (language arts), baked muffins (math and science), sounded out the words in picture books (reading). I knew intuitively this was the right thing to do and our days were very happy. We played—with a purpose. It was all rainbows and sunshine.

Then, Bridget got a bit older, “I need to get serious about this homeschooling thing (like I wasn’t before?). After all, I am in charge of her education,” I said to myself. Then, I bought serious curriculum. Let me translate that for you…it meant heavy-duty workbooks and textbooks. Pretty deadly stuff.

Full-scale rebellion ensued from my little tyke.

Next I had an unhappy learner so I started looking for answers and discovered Charlotte Mason’s works. It was wonderful to watch life unfold as I began to apply CM in my homeschool and my life. The effect was calming, enriching, and enduring for all of us. Why? Had I found the perfect curriculum? No. Perfect teaching tool? Nope.

The real answer is—I discovered the secret to learning, real learning.

In a word–books…many books, good books, beautiful books, interesting books, poetic books, well-written books…great books.

Why does it matter so much what a child reads?

Because books, the really good ones, tell us about the Permanent Things. Those living ideas, lasting heart songs that sing to us of what matters most: Honor, duty, love, piety, law, being.

They must be good books because the inferior ones do not cause us know the truth, only the facts. That is why Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education is so life-altering for those of us reared in traditional educational methods. We think: it can’t be this beautiful; learning must be hard. Not.

This is where I began my love-affair with books. Mind you, my home library was none too shabby but they lacked many titles I’d heard about. Armed with titles such as The Fairy-land of Science  or Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare or Girl of the Limberlost  I began to add (and read late into the night). It was a wonderful, even thrilling journey for me. The library grew…I grew…Bridget grew.

Do you have a home library? I am speaking of rows and rows of high-quality literature that every family member has access to, not the place where you keep your school supplies.If not, please begin one today.

Would you like to see my top ten books for starting a home library?
Download the Booklist Now >>

How do you know what is a good book? It’s easier than you think. Use our booklists for each grade level as a place to start. Or, look here for a well-done list for all grades.

To help you discover more books that bring a banquet of learning to your homeschool, Living Books Curriculum is bringing back the Charlotte Mason Library on CD which contains over 70 titles worth hundreds of dollars. These are books you can use over and over again in your child’s learning.

Here is the part to remember…we only have 45 copies and they’re 50% off.

Originally, we produced 250 and offered them at great success…we thought we had sold all of them…recently we cleaned the back storage room and found 45 more!

Please consider this for your library. “It’s a CD not a book”, you say? To be honest, I would not have known of the many titles on the CD when I was a younger homeschooling mom…I know them now and want to help you dive in!

Below, you can see the complete list of titles that will save oodles of money and bring a treasure-trove of books to your homeschool:

Charlotte Mason Library on CD

IMPORTANT: We will not be reprinting this CD so when they are gone they are gone.

Is Charlotte Mason education rigorous enough?

From time to time I receive emails that go something like this…

“I wish I could do Living Books, but my husband says it’s not rigorous enough. He wants me to do Classical instead.”

Do you think that? Learn why CM is not only rigorous, it also operates according to how children actually learn.

A parent new to Charlotte Mason’s ideas and reared in a traditional schooling system often sees all “those books” as merely reading for enjoyment and not “real learning.” They might even say it’s not rigorous enough.

This misunderstanding arises from their own experience with workbooks and textbooks, which are still the primary tools of learning in public education. As new parents, or at least new to CM, they want the best for their children and tend to default to what they know.

It’s an easy mistake to make….trying to do school better than school to prove a point. I did it. Many of my readers have done it. It wasn’t until I read Miss Mason’s book Home Education that I realized my mistake. realized what real learning was.

In Home Education I read about all the things I longed for–high quality literature which revealed a shimmering world of ideas, respect for the person, a gentle, graceful atmosphere in which to learn, time spent outdoors learning from nature, a day organized around joyful learning rather than “getting through” the material, character as a natural outgrowth of reflecting on the good, the true, and the beautiful. This is what we are meant be like and our children after us.

As I began to apply Miss Mason’s ideas I understood that this is real learning…not workbooks, textbooks, rote memorization, form writing, facts without the context.

But, what about rigor?I believe this idea came from people who do not understand what a rigorous curriculum actually is. Most think rigorous equals hard. If it’s hard it must be good. I have seen parents happy to have their children struggling and grim with their studies.This is the antithesis of Charlotte Mason education.

First, a definition of rigorous:

Extremely thorough, exhaustive, or accurate: as in, “the rigorous testing of students”. Or, strictly applied or adhered to, as in “a rigorous system of laws.”

Anyone who uses a well laid-out CM curriculum knows it is rigorous in the best sense of the word–exhaustive, thorough, and precise about each subject. As with any method there is a way to teach and a way not to teach. Most often it is a matter of being consistent with the plan. If CM methods are applied consistently the results are far beyond traditional schooling.

A caution…you cannot do a “little Charlotte Mason” and expect the results of a parent who has given it their whole heart. You will always get back what you put into something. If it’s a little then that is what comes back.

A child who uses a CM curriculum for his elementary years will enter high school writing and reading at the college level, able to think clearly about what is right and good. He will be well-spoken and expressive, understand how to learn any subject, have a clear understanding of the major ideas of history and philosophy, and have a working knowledge of the areas of science, math, and social studies required by most colleges.

Don’t be afraid to challenge assumptions. Just because someone says it’s “not rigorous” doesn’t make it so. I encourage you to dig deeper into Miss Mason’s writings and you will discover a rigor far beyond that offered from a classical curriculum.

Watch for my next blog post where I answer the question: What markers can we use to evaluate a curriculum–any curriculum–if it is rigorous?



Our new site is ready (again)

I have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to life and  new websites.

As you can guess, it’s has been a challenging few weeks since our site crashed. I am deeply grateful for your patience as we sorted out the issues; and we humbly offer the new site (again) and would appreciate your thoughts and insights on it.

One note…we are still working on the images of the books, so you may see some blank spaces. We know!

New site sale–15% off

Reminder — to celebrate the launch of our new site we are offering 15% off any purchase. If you order more than $100 shipping is free. Use the coupon NEWSITE.

Write a review!

If you’re a person who has used one of our teaching guides, grammar books, or classic literature, we invite you to write a review.  As homeschooling families we look for the experience of others who value the Charlotte Mason way and have used the materials, to help us steer our course. We encourage you to write a review because this is your chance to help other moms in their homeschool journey.

Free courses

We have added two free  email courses to help you navigate the information available about the Charlotte Mason method.

  1. Getting Started with Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
  2. Introduction to Homeschooling Your Teen the Charlotte Mason Way

A family ministry project

We have a wonderful project that you and your family can adopt to help build a library for our school in Africa. Crowdrise, a secure online funding site, the we have joined allows your family become a “team member”. You then receive a special link. As you share your link with family and friends the tally shows on the site. You can read about it by clicking the link below.

Legacy of Hope Library Project

All the best,


New Website Launched!

Hello and welcome to our new website!

Every home needs a new look from time to time and Living Books Curriculum is no exception. Our virtual home is the place you come to for help to homeschool the Charlotte Mason way.

We saw the new site as a good opportunity to tell you about our new ways as well. LBC has become more that a seller of K-8 curriculum. Two years ago we began providing courses and small-group mentoring. The response was wonderful…we received over-the-top praise. I knew we had touched a deep need for support from homeschooling mothers who often feel isolated…and we had found our way forward.

For those readers who joined me in ReBoot Your Homeschool you know my oft-repeated formula for successful homeschooling.

  • The right approach
  • The right books
  • Support for the journey

This three-pillared way to homeschooling needs to be your foundation if you want to be assured of success. Living Books Curriculum offers all three.

Here are a few highlights of the new site:

  • Free email courses: 1) those new to Charlotte Mason education, 2) those homeschooling teens, and more to come.
  • Each grade/age level has a personal letter from me explaining the developmental needs of your child and how the year is structured.
  • Short articles are embedded into the letter that helps you understand key points.
  • All the books published by LBC are on one page and organized by grade.
  • All books ordered from Amazon on one page and clearly organized by age/grade.
  • More free resources to help you on your journey.
  • A new URL…charlottemasonhomeschooling.com. (No worries–You will still get to us with our old URL, too)

For homeschooling moms there is no such thing as TMI (too much information). So, I knew we had to build a site around helping YOU on your homeschooling journey–and that’s what we did. As you delve into the pages we have provided you will see it’s like walking through a house.

Have a look around, kick the furniture, peek in the refrigerator, enjoy the view….then let me know what you think.

All the best,