Homeschool boy and mom

Sometimes we make things harder than they need to be.

Take writing this blog, for instance. I started the process several times this morning, deliberating, pondering, debating over how best to communicate what I’ve been thinking and feeling. I must have written and rewritten five different introductions before I decided to simply state it outright.

Sometimes we make things harder than they need to be.

It’s true in educating our children, too.

Simple and Effective

Charlotte Mason’s methods are simple. They’re not complicated. In fact, they are so simple that it’s easy to begin questioning or second-guessing: “Shouldn’t I be doing more? Don’t I need to add this and this and that?”

No, you don’t. Be careful not to disregard the simple just because it’s, well, simple. Simple can be effective.

In the preface to her final book, at the end of her life, Charlotte summarized her philosophy and methods as few and simple, yet completely effective.

“My object in offering this volume to the public is to urge upon all who are concerned with education a few salient principles which are generally either unknown or disregarded; and a few methods which, like that bathing in Jordan, are too simple to commend themselves to the ‘general.’ Yet these principles and methods make education entirely effectual” (Vol. 6, Preface).

Did you catch that “bathing in Jordan” reference to Naaman? Naaman was a powerful and important army commander in the Old Testament—a “general,” if you will, to use Charlotte’s word. He was used to making big, complicated plans and giving big orders to carry out big battles. And he was facing a big issue: leprosy. So he went to the prophet Elisha, expecting him to do some big thing that would be of sufficient import to be effective. Elisha told him to go wash in the Jordan River. Not at all what Naaman was expecting. And Naaman’s mind immediately ran into the old ruts of his thinking and dismissed the prophet’s instructions as too simplistic to do any good. But for the encouragement of his servant to give it a try, Naaman would have missed out on the cure.

Charlotte knew that the tendency in education is for voices to preach a message of big, complicated, more and more: “You must do more, make it more complicated, add this and this and that, work longer, jump through more hoops or you’re not truly educating.” Those voices can get inside our heads and turn our minds away from the beauty of simplicity.

Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

Charlotte Mason’s methods are simple. And simple can be very effective.

Encouragement to Keep It Simple

If you would like a refresher course on Charlotte’s wonderfully simple methods, we have some resources that can help.

  • The Subject by Subject blog series will walk you through each school subject and explain how to teach it using Charlotte Mason methods.
  • Learning and Living: Homeschooling the Charlotte Mason Way lets you watch, listen, and try for yourself the various methods Charlotte used to teach the different school subjects. Includes the habit-training workshop, Laying Down the Rails. A 12-DVD set with a 180-page seminar notebook designed to give you the know-how and the encouragement you need.


  1. I am always encouraged when I read your blog. Just when I feel overwhelmed by all I haven’t done and feel I need to do, your message reminds me to just breathe and remember the simple principles that make Charlotte Mason’s methods so appealing.

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