Charlotte Mason believed (and proved) that children are born with an instinctive, curious nature only limited by a lack of opportunity to satiate it. She also believed children had a capacity to learn much more than we give them credit for.
The fundamental and distinguishing attribute of the CM method is making “living books” the heart of education. Her term for mediocre literature was “twaddle”. The opposite of “twaddle” she called “living books”–literature both rich in language and written by authors passionate for their subjects.
This simple concept of how great literature makes a great education seems too obvious to state. Yet we fall into thinking that children can only understand “little books” written for them, and often wait much too long to introduce them to rich literature, handicapping their capacity to understand it later.
In my ebook Think Outside the Classroom, I gave a simple analogy of what this looks like regarding the introduction of Scripture to children:
“…if we postponed speaking to a child until he was old enough to understand the words, linguistically, he would be greatly impaired! The same is true of his spiritual understanding. A person who has not heard the regular reading of God’s Word until he is old enough to understand likely won’t understand it at all!”
For those new to Charlotte Mason, a good way to slowly begin or merge your existing methods with the Mason methods would simply be to start building a library of “living books”. The best place to start finding those books is Ambleside Online, the official Charlotte Mason website. Many of the books there are even free for download.
And don’t forget the importance of reading Scripture–straight from the Bible (and Mason preferred KJ for its rich language), which should be hailed in our families as the most important piece of living history available!