Topic | Charlotte Mason vs. Maria Montessori


This topic contains 10 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Miss Rachel 4 years, 7 months ago.

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  • greenebalts

    Does anyone have information or links that compare Mason and Montessori?  Do the methods mesh?  It seems both woman lived around the same time in Europe.  I’ve been doing some research, but would love input from those who have compared or meshed. 





    My understanding is that CM wasn’t really a big fan of Montessori’s methods. I don’t have time to write more now, but here is one article that gives a CM perspective on it:



    And here’s another article, now that I think about it a little more:


    Well, MamaSnow already linked to my post on it (thanks!). They can sound a lot alike. They worked in the same time and I think especially to those of us not in that time their langauge sounds similar. But I think they meant things in different ways. Charlotte has places where it sounds like she is criticizing Maria Montessori particularly though she doesn’t use her name. I woudl say they are not truly compatible though there is soemthing we can learn from most other methods of homeshcooling.



    And, I, on the other hand, find them very compatible. ;0)

    You know how many tend to tweak the book suggestions in the various SCM Modules, or don’t follow a guide at all?  This is similar to utilizing Montessori Methods alongside great literature and nature study. It’s another way to strengthen the learning of an area of study. 

    Now, isolated from each other in their strictest sense, they are quite different and very easily separated from each other. But, when used as a means to encourage understanding (based on learning styles,) they help each other along nicely. 

    You know those habits that are so often discussed in CM company?  They fall under “Grace and Courtesy” lessons in Montessori terminology. Much of the early “phonics and math” Montessori lessons are hands on experiences that prepare children with the background information needed in order to jump into formal math studies. This doesn’t mean the Montessori specific materials must be used. But, her “three period lesson” is a practical way to carry on continued conversation on math, science, geography, and other topics, making narration even easier early on (at least at my house.). ;0)

    Integrating the two “methods” seems to eliminate “gaps.” At least I’ve observed this with my children. Instead of only sight and sound upon which to gain understanding, “feeling” what we are learning brings another level of understanding. It’s a way to “do” what you are learning instead of just hearing about what others have learned, or seeing what others have learned before you. When you add the “experiment” of learning into the mix, it seems to build more understanding in the early stages. Added to the beauty of a life well lived with exceptional living books, for what more could any child ask?




    Thank you for the links and your responses 🙂


    I started out very interested in the Montessori methods of education but it didn’t suit my oldest. However, I do a lot of the Montessori inspired practical and sensorial activities with my kids under aged 6. They are fun and helpful. We don’t use the very detailed instructions available for each activity, I just give good instructions and help make sure they are followed before turning the kids loose with different materials.


    You can sort of see a big different on the philosophical level with Montessori being more of a humanist approach – “Peace begins with us” – while Charlotte Mason has a Christian approach. I was also reading in a CM book, whichever one I got from the library (I can’t remember the title), but her words specifically stated not to “bring things down to the child’s size” which Montessori is known for. Seemed to be a pretty deliberate statement on Mason’s part. But there are many similarities, too, with certain learning activities – handicrafts, art, music, etc. So I suppose in practice they are similar, but in theory they are quite different.

    Hi! I’m new to these boards, as I am a homeschool graduate  fascinated by education, educational theory, and educational “experimentation”. I have been very impressed by Montessori and with reading her works. I find her a primarily a scientist. Rudolf Steiner was, I believe, a philospher. And Charlotte Mason was a teacher. Correct me if I am wrong, but she comes off to me as a “governess-type” teacher. Montessori tended to isolate natural activities, ie, buttoning, and create a whole exercise out of it requiring special equipment, etc. She isolates the different senses, and neurologically, she makes a lot of sense to me. Many of her methods and ideas I find fascinating, but I do not believe that one has to be in a Montessori classroom to learn the same activities. One can be in a natural Waldorf-type classroom, and still work with practical life skills. But, I believe the understanding that comes from Montessori helps us identify the benefits of each activity and it pedagogical functions. I believe an educator should be well-read on educational philosophy, like Pestalozzi, Froebel, Montessori, Mason etc.

    I also believe that we need not follow a particular method 100%. What Mason and all those others did was formulate and develop educational methods and philosphies. They were the thinkers of their age. We today can continue that work of thought, to develop and think and to work out, to be thinkers and creators of “philosophies” in our own day and time.

    I came to these boards to learn more about Charlotte Mason, simply because I am not particularly enlightened by her writings. Reading her volumes, I fail to catch her concepts I find her, I apologize to her hard-core followers, garrulous and “off-topic”. She is not a scientist by a long-short. But, I support classical-type education for the “Elementary years”.

    May I make a point that I have observed – Charlotte Mason appears to have worked primarily with elementary-aged children and Montessori with K-aged children. Generally, I believe that children learn by their senses at K-ages, and their intellect must be cultivated at Elementary-ages. I believe Charlotte Mason’s many techniques such as copywork can be most strategically applied at the elementary ages.  So, I have come to have the opinion that one can educate a toddler using motor-visual-audio-tactile, etc. It seems a better way to connect with them as a person. 

    I personally would not make the comparison as if Montessori was a “humanist” and Charlotte Mason a “Christian”. Montessori struck me in one of her comments. She said that an educator needs the love of Christ’s disciple and the self-sacrifice of a scientist. That really resounded in my being.

    Whatever methods each promoted seems to me to be whatever worked best to their own experience. It really depends on the child, and applying to each child through “experimentation” what works best for them.


    BTW, has anyone heard and read Mary Carpenter? I am interested in education from her point of view too. I am looking forward to more insightful discussions and learning on these forums.

    Good Day,

    Miss Rachel.





    Miss Rachel–I agree with a lot of what you have to say, especially about not having to follow any one person’s phulisophy 100%.

    I am just starting to read CM’s 6th volume and it seems to me rife with unspoken refernces to Maria Montessori’s approach. I have to say there is a lot I wouldn’t have gotten though if I hadn’t read a little about Montessori and read CM’s earlier volumes.

    I agree that CM can seem off-topic a lot. I think that is because her educational model comes out of a real philosophy about people and what they are like and what they need. It is a much bigger picture than just how to educate. It is a world-view if you will.

    I think CM would agree to a certain extent that we educate younger children through their senses in that they should use their senses which they do for things like nature study. CM, for example, said that children should be able to identify bird calls and trees. These things require the use of one senses plus a lot of observational skills.

    The example you give of Momtessori’s button-teaching methods is exactly why I don’t like her methods. Why make button teaching into a big thing with special equipment? I think CM would say thta we don’t need a specialized method and equipment for every thing. Montessori’s theories came out of working with developmentally disabled children and I think it shows. She took techniques thta worked with kids with special needs and generalized them to all students. Charlotte Mason says rather that all children have the ability to learn from good, quality materials. She takes those who were not expected to learn and raises them up rather than pulling everyone down, if that makes sense.

    I think the link is in a post above by I have a series on educational philosphies on my blog,, that you are welcome to check out.


    Thank! I enjoyed reading that post on your blog. I like your comment about the special-needs element. I never noticed it before. For example, Montessori focuses on getting children to walk around in a circle, balancing, carrying objects, etc. which a normal child could do easily but a special-needs child could have trouble doing.

    Montessori isolates the eye-brain hand-brain movements used in writing. Then all the skills are combined in reading and writing. Of course, I believe each step is not 100% necessary nor does it have to be so isolated. I like the breaking-down of a complicated task so that it can be introduced, say, at age 3, but imagine breaking down each subject and each lesson and coming up with specialized materials for it – tedious, extremely so!

    1) Learning/Feeling/Looking at geometric shapes helps to recognize letters.

    2) Tracing geometric shape develops pencil-skills later helpful in writing.

    3) Sandpaper letters introduces a child to the shape and sounds of letters. He learns the shape of writing letters by tracing the sandpaper and writing in the sand.

    4) Phonetic learning introduces a child to the letters themselve, how to connect the shapes with sounds. 

    5) The moveable alphabet allows children to learn spelling without the tedium of writing each letter out.

    And so on. I would like a comparison of Charlotte Mason’s method of introducing letters and the alphabet. I know some only each the alphabet to a child on his fifth or sixth year, when they will learn it all at once, possibly all in one day’s worth of instruction, and be able to write it immediately. This was used by Susanna Wesley. Is that Charlotte Mason’s approach?


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