A Generous Curriculum: Subject By Subject, Part 1

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Subject by Subject

As mothers we know that children grow best on generous portions. Meagre meals can stunt a child’s physical growth, but a generous diet of food gives that growing body lots of nutrients to draw from. It’s the same emotionally; child need a generous supply of pure love to grow secure and happy and loving, themselves.

And the same holds true for a child’s mental growth. A generous supply of ideas is needed. Charlotte Mason knew that.

“The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum” (Vol. 6, p. 111).

A Wide Range of Subjects

Charlotte did not believe in only preparing children to hold down a job one day. She believed in feeding the children’s minds and shaping their characters, as well as equipping them with skills.
So you won’t find a skimpy curriculum that focuses on the three R’s. Instead you will find a wide and generous curriculum that attempts to spread a feast of ideas before the children.

“Give children a wide range of subjects” (Vol. 3, p. 162).

In a Charlotte Mason-style home school the children are given a wide variety of subjects so they will have plenty of mind-food to grow on.

  • History
  • Geography
  • Bible
  • Art
  • Handicrafts
  • Foreign Language
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Poetry
  • Science
  • Beginning reading
  • Spelling
  • Writing
  • Grammar
  • Math

We will walk through each of those subjects in the weeks ahead and explain how to teach them in the Charlotte Mason way. Most of them you will be able to teach with all your family together.

Two Extremes

Now, the challenge of a generous curriculum is in trying not to swing to either extreme when you look at that list of subjects. One extreme is a tendency to panic and think, “There is no way we can cover all of those subjects every day!”

The answer to that extreme is to keep in mind that Charlotte did not do every subject every day. She kept variety in the schedule. Those subjects were all presented some time during the weeks of the term, but not every one every day.

The other extreme is the mind-set, “That’s a nice list, but I don’t really want to mess with some of those subjects; they look a bit inconvenient. Besides, I have my children for only a few years, so I’m going to focus on just the required stuff.”

Charlotte would encourage you to consider a wide variety of subjects as a necessity.

“In the nature of things then the unspoken demand of children is for a wide and very varied curriculum; it is necessary that they should have some knowledge of the wide range of interests proper to them as human beings, and for no reasons of convenience or time limitations may we curtail their proper curriculum” (Vol. 6, p. 14).

Sure, you might want to ease into it. There’s nothing wrong with getting some subjects up and running and then adding in the others little by little. But always keep that ideal goal in mind: a generous curriculum with a wide range of subjects.

Generous portions encourage generous growth.

New SCM Audio Blog

We are happy to announce that, starting with this post, our blog will also be available in audio format. You will find an audio player at the bottom of each weekly post that you can use to listen to a reading of that post. Or visit the iTunes store for a free subscription to this new SCM Audio Blog that will be automatically delivered as a podcast every week.

We hope you will find the new audio blog great for listening on the go or sharing with friends. Let us know what you think!


  1. So excited! This will be helpful and refreshing to both new and not-so-new home schoolers. It will also be a great tool for sharing the ‘how to’ with interested parents. Thank you!

  2. I look forward to reading this series. I have been drawn toward Charlotte Mason’s methods and can’t wait to see what you blog about for each subject. Wow – how exciting! You get to meet Catherine Levison’s … her books are GREAT. I just recently purchased my second one.

  3. I think this will be helpful to me with where we are at right now, and for moving ahead.

    Thank you!

  4. i was reviewing the curriculum guide and the detailed book lists for each subject. It is a wealth of information! Thank you for the hard work you put into it. I was wondering about literature selections for students to work on independently. We read several books as a family, but my junior high and high school student also have their own assigned books. Is there a listing in a separate place?

    • The books listed on the Curriculum Guide under Literature for older students would work well as independent readings or when read together. Feel free to assign those. In addition, you will find lots of literature suggestions in our CM Bookfinder. Just type “literature” in the search box and select the grade levels you want.

  5. Just finished listening to the new audio. This is a great addition to the site. I have been following your site for four years now. I never had the courage to walk away from our “boxed curriculum” but the ideas you present from Miss Mason & your calm reassurance make me feel that perhaps that day will come. I love the ideas presented here, truthfully I am afraid to implement them completely.

  6. Looking forward to the series. The audio is great for those who learn by hearing…
    God bless you and Happy New Year!

  7. Thrilled to see the audio option! I love to listen to podcasts as I do housework and now I can listen to the valuable information you offer on your site! Thank you!

  8. Thank you so much for adding the audio option! Now I can listen while kids nap and I do housework. What a blessing!

  9. Great post. Great blog. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the series. As an aside: I recognize that as a white, heterosexual, Protestant male I have little place to claim discrimination. But please consider including the possibility that fathers may be involved in the education of their children and not just “mothers.” I know this was not the point of the post, but the continual reference to mothers as the only facilitator of a CM education (or provider of meals, for that matter) is slightly off-putting.

    • Thanks for your note, Mark. Charlotte addressed mainly mothers and female teachers in her writings, so it’s easy for me to stay in that mind-set as I convey her ideas. I appreciate your gracious reminder.

  10. THANK YOU for the audio! So convenient for the busy mom, as I’ve listened numerous times already while doing chores and I would have just skimmed. You’re clarity, conciseness and examples are so useful and inspiring.

  11. I like the audio blog. This gives me the opportunity to listen to your posts while driving in the car or running on the treadmill.
    I wouldn’t have read these posts because they are similiar to the Living and Learning movies, but thanks to this audio blog I’m gonna listen to all the subjects again. Remembering these important things is always good.

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