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Is Charlotte Mason only for Christians?

You’ve heard things about this Charlotte Mason method, and the more you read the more it sounds like exactly what your family is looking for.

But there’s one problem: you keep seeing on blogs and Facebook groups that Charlotte Mason is for Christians only, and can’t be used by those who aren’t.

But you’re not Christian.

Do you need to leave this method behind and look for another that will welcome non-Christians? Does Charlotte Mason’s method of education really only work for those who have committed themselves to her god? Is there something different about the biology and brain of children of Christian parents that makes this method unsuitable for those of us that aren’t?

Of course not!


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Charlotte Mason was Christian

Let’s get this out of the way right now — Charlotte Mason was Christian. More specifically, Anglican. In the U.S., this is the modern Episcopalian Church. Her worldview was saturated with it, and she couldn’t conceive of any other religion being ‘right’, just as many modern-day Christians can’t.

However, she also taught Jewish students, and had friends and close co-workers who were Jewish. Nowhere in her writings have I found where she said that Jewish or any other religions should not use her method. On the contrary, she says that her method works with all children. Are we to believe that her ‘all children’ actually means only Christian children, and that children are biologically different depending on what religion their parents follow?

I don’t think so.

How to bring your own beliefs to a CM education

With the proliferation of Christian curricula where the entire thing seems to be saturated with a certain brand of Christianity, and the inclusion of generally Young Earth resources in these, you’d think that Charlotte Mason held those same views.


Her programmes (from the PNEU) are filled with books that are only mildly Christian or that are outright secular. She used books that taught current scientific theory (Darwin), and she says in Volume 1 concerning which Bible commentaries to use: “Mr. Smyth brings both modern criticism and research to bear, so that children taught from his little manuals will not be startled to be told that the world was not made in six days; and, at the same time, they will be very sure that the world was made by God.”

So what do we as non-Christians, or Christians whose beliefs don’t follow other curricula, do?

First, “We must teach only what we know.”

What does this mean? It was actually this singular passage that brought me back to my non-Christian beliefs. I was trying to raise my daughter with Christian materials, because that was all that was available 15 years ago. I read this passage, and realized that I didn’t believe what I was trying to teach my daughter.

“In the first place, we must teach that which we know, know by the life of the soul, not with any mere knowledge of the mind. Now, of the vast mass of the doctrines and the precepts of religion, we shall find that there are only a few vital truths that we have so taken into our being that we live upon them––this person, these; that person, those; some of us, not more than a single one. One or more, these are the truths we must teach the children, because these will come straight out of our hearts with the enthusiasm of conviction which rarely fails to carry its own idea into the spiritual life of another.” (Home Education p 347)

What are the core beliefs that you carry in your soul? These may or may not align with the religion that you belong to. However, these core beliefs are the only ones you can teach.

How do you make this into a curriculum?

The easiest way is to use a curriculum that aligns fairly closely with what you already believe, and then tweak from there.

The great thing about Charlotte Mason’s curriculum as found in the PNEU programmes is that there are few religious books outside the Bible portions, so it’s easy to take a curriculum that is modeled after these programs and tweak it to fit your own worldview.

Tweaking curriculum for your views

Wildwood Curriculum is a strict Charlotte Mason curriculum, but without religious dogma.  It is easily customized to fit your own beliefs.

If you belong to an organized religion with educational materials for your religion, just put those in in place of World Religions/Philosophy. Easy peasy.

If you don’t have such a simple option, it will take a bit more work.

Take a few days to think about what ideas form your spiritual beliefs or core values. Besides those, what knowledge (spiritual or mindfulness) do you think is important to have? What qualities and morals do you want to cultivate in your children?

If you’re a visual person, you might find an outline or a mind map helpful to organize your thoughts. Don’t rush it. It will be a work in progress. Here’s a copy of mine so you can see where I’m coming from.

After you’ve figured out what ideas you want covered, use that as your guide when planning your year. What resources are available to you to convey these ideas to your children? Think outside the box — they don’t need to be books; they can be experiences or you modeling actions. At the same time, they can be books.

Hang with people going through the same thing

Finally, consider joining Facebook homeschool groups that reflect your spiritual views, especially if you can find ones that follow Charlotte Mason.

I prefer groups that embrace both religious and non-religious viewpoints. Here are a few resources:

Charlotte Mason Secular Homeschoolers
Wildwood Curriculum (this is the link to the homepage.  If you are planning to use the curriculum, there’s an active Facebook group, too)
Charlotte Mason Plenary

Up Above the Rowan Tree

Charlotte Mason’s method is for everyone, no matter your religious beliefs (or lack of them!)

Want to remember this? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!


woman in yoga pose next to lake with text Charlotte Mason is not for Christians only


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  1. Yes! It is sad to think how many people have been driven away from this beautiful mode of education because they have been made to believe it can’t work with a different/lack of religion. Thank you so much for putting this out in the world where mamas can see it x

    1. It had never even occurred to me that people would stay away because it’s “for Christians only”, but this past year or so I’ve seen that comment so many times! “I was interested in CM, but never looked into it more because it was so Christian.”

      Surprised the heck out of me!

      I’ve never thought of the method itself as being overly Christian, just some of the people who use it 🙂

      There’s such a big difference between, “You probably won’t like these books because they are so Christian” (told to me by another hsing mama who was using Mystery of History — I appreciated her candor) and “You aren’t allowed to use this method because you’re not Christian”.

      I appreciate your comment! Do you have other resources you love that help you with a secular or inclusive CM education?


  2. Except that Charlotte’s methods were bound up, not with “dogma”, but the universal truths that education is not just imparting information to a set of nerve endings in the brain, but each WHOLE child (which is a principle founded in Biblical truth) has an entire immaterial, immeasureable SOUL that is both separate and together from his physical meat body. It is THIS part of the child that she presses to educate and recognizes that true education is only possible from the help of the Holy Spirit. This is not something she taught simply because it was her cultural norm or practice. She knew it to be true, even before modern technology discovered quantum truths…that there are still many, many things we know nothing about that are not of this world that cannot be measured by worldly instruments. The attempt to rape and draw from her teachings what fits a modern trend of godlessness is sad and it cheapens the education offered. Who can study nature without a full-on worship of the Creator who hid secret elegantly complex mathematical patterns of His “signature” everywhere in it?! Who can study the classic literature and process character or ethics without finding at its source the universal truths that are immutable by mankind no matter the trends of the age?! Compartmentalizing education like this is hitting a ceiling so-to-speak. Going as high as you can but stopping when it comes to proper acknowledgement of God. And Charlotte was all about the science of relations. Everything is connected. Just as the words in these paragraphs didn’t “just happen” to fall into coherent order, the world we live in and the ability of our consciousness to even perceive and process it was no accident. It must all remain connected for true education to happen! And when it does, what a rebirth of learning it will be! Eyes opened to see it all. The bigger picture!

    1. Absolutely, Charlotte Mason was about teaching the whole child, not just one part. We agree there.

      I don’t believe I’m “raping” her teachings to fit a modern trend of godlessness. I’m not Christian, but I’m not godless.

      I know the rest of your post is probably rhetorical, but I”ll answer a few things anyway — “who can study nature without a full on worship of the [Christian view] of the Creator?” – The 5 billion people in the world who are not Christian. Everybody can study nature and forge a connection with it. It’s our natural birthright as humans.

      Did you know that classic literature is and has been written by people of all faiths and ethnicities, for thousands of years? Anyone can study it and see the truth of the human experience and our perpetual striving.

      Education, good education, is not limited to Christians only.

      Your beliefs are your beliefs. It saddens me that you feel that only Christians can reap the “true” benefits of a Charlotte Mason education, but your opinions don’t affect the excellent quality of my child’s education. And I’m not going to stop teaching people how to apply a Charlotte Mason education to their lives, no matter what religion they are or aren’t.

      If your intent was to convince anyone reading these comments to convert to Christianity, I don’t think you’re going to succeed.

      Have a great week!

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