How Do You Teach Charlotte Mason English Lessons

“I am thinking of taking a Charlotte Mason approach with English. Do you have any suggestions? My children are aged 10, 11, & 12. ” Nikki

Hi Nikki,

The first thing that I would say is that you should think of English as being a part of every lesson. If you do that you can incorporate writing and reading lessons into almost every subject. This may sound hard but it actually makes planning a lot easier because you have a base to work from.

I usually find it is best to work much of my schedule around my history and geography studies. Then I can choose my books and base my lessons around the books.

I then work out how I am going to use Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods with the books I have chosen.

Here is a short rundown of what I would usually include in my CM English lessons. And since I also use literature and books that covers many other topics I’m also covering some of my history, geography, science and art lessons as well.

Handwriting Practice or Copywork.

You can choose a passage from a book or poem you may be studying or use preset copywork like Downunder Copywork.

Australian Literature Online

Encourage beautiful handwriting. This year we are using a calligraphy set to improve our cursive. It’s artistic as well as using good models.


We have dictation lessons twice a week. This is how we teach spelling. Make sure you do your spelling lessons the CM way. It’s different to how many people did it at school. You can read more about that here.

Again you can choose the passage for dictation or use preset dictation lessons.

We have Downunder Dictation.

Downunder Dictation and Teacher's Guide


I also like Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason.

Literature and Poetry

Read aloud a classic novel of your choice to the children. It’s often good to pick something that goes along with the period of history you are studying.

Read some poetry every day. We use a poetry anthology that they read through themselves.

Writing – Composition and Narration

Charlotte Mason wanted children to narrate back what they had heard or read. This is the backbone of Charlotte Mason’s writing program. Written narrations can begin from 10. Narrations can also be set using books that you are using in other subjects like science, history or geography, even art. Get them to write it in their notebooks. Using this method kills two birds with one stone – a writing and a subject lesson. I do this all the time. Read more about how narration works.

More Living Books

Add some more books for free reading with the children (on their own or with you). These can be in a range of subjects and can also be used to teach that subject. Collect a list of books that you want them to read using booklists like the ones you will find here.

English Grammar.

You can teach some grammar but it need not be too complicated. You can work through a simple grammar reference book like the one we have.

The Briefest English Grammar and Puctuation Guide Ever!

Grammar and punctuation guide

There are some CM grammar books like Simply Grammar that CM homeschoolers leave till about Year 7.


We do one Shakespeare a year. We pick a book like Ian Serrailier’s book The Enchanted Island. That might be enough for primary aged children. For my high school kids we read the play and watch the movie. A good entry level Shakespeare is Much Ado about Nothing. The movie is also lovely.

Memory Work and Recitations.

Many CM homeschoolers also include memorisation of two or three poems a term. They also memorise Bible passages and some Shakespeare. I confess we don’t do that. I only memorise one poem a year for our annual homeschoolers poetry recital.

Creative Writing

We don’t have any formal creative writing lessons. If they want to write a story they can. However I do require them to write about a topic that we are studying.

Covering The Curriculum

The National Curriculum “is built around the three interrelated strands of Language, Literature and Literacy…Together the three strands focus on developing students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in listening, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating.” Australian National Curriculum

I often get people ask if this way of teaching English will cover the curriculum. The short answer is yes. Whilst the CM approach doesn’t break down English lessons into isolated parts like a workbook it still teaches in all the three strands of English in the National Curriculum.

Note: The English syllabus may recommend some texts but they are not compulsory. This means you have the freedom to choose your own books. The syllabus focuses on the mechanics or writing and making sure children are exposed to different text types (narratives, reports, discussions etc) and genre. If you are choosing your books from a selection of fiction and non fiction, adding some poetry and having discussions you will be covering these requirements.

How To Write Lessons

From Year 4 – Year 6 I use Intermediate Language Lessons as a way to combine many of Charlotte Mason’s ideas into one resource.

English language Lessons Set Emma Serl

Not CM But Still Great

For high school I use all of those methods already mentioned with my children but I also have decided to give my child some structured lessons that will help them to write well and help my children become familiar with writing terms used for teaching writing. For this reason I have also added a how to write resource to my children’s lessons every year from about 12 years old.

Two I like are The Wordsmith Series and IEW Student Writing Intensive.

Write Every Day

Writing skills build and build. Don’t push your kids and frustrate them. Set them simple tasks and build on them. If they’re in tears stop! Re-asses for the next lesson and keep plodding away. Some kids will zoom and others won’t. My reluctant writer at 11 year old now gets high distinctions for his university assignments. It will come. Be persistent.

I hope this has helped you get some idea for planning English using the CM method.

If you want to read more about this I suggest you get

Design Your Own Language Arts Curriculum

Homeschool English-Design-Your_Own