Charlotte Mason Quotes on Nature Study and Education

Whether you are new to homeschooling, or a veteran homeschool mom, you’re always looking for new ways to educate your children. One method you may have heard about in homeschool circles is Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason’s philosophy was not strictly secular, but many homeschool curricula have adapted her ideas and teaching methodologies to suit their own purposes. She was a British educator in the late 1800s who developed a philosophy of education that emphasized nature study, living books, and a broad curriculum. She was and is an influential figure in the homeschooling movement, and her ideas are still relevant today.

Charlotte Mason was a big proponent of nature study, and she had some great things to say on the subject as well as education in general. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your homeschooling days, check out these Charlotte Mason nature study quotes.

Note: The commentary below each quote is strictly my own application and interpretation. If you have other ideas about the true meaning, drop it in the comments – I’d love to hear it!

Charlotte Mason on Nature Study

“An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.”

This quote indicates we should be aware of our surroundings and educational environments. How do we expect our kids to be enamored with the natural world if they never get to experience or observe it themselves?

“A love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humour.”

Instilling a love and understanding of the world around us will give our children the gift of lifelong appreciation for both nature and lifelong pursuits. It also gives a greater understanding and care for the natural world.

Charlotte Mason quote with watercolor greenery

“There is no education without nature.”

This is one of my favorite Charlotte Mason quotes on nature study. To me, this quote means there is no real education without spending time in nature. When you’re outdoors, you’re able to learn about the world around you in a whole new way. There’s something special about being in nature that allows us to connect with our children and nature in a different way.

Related: Nature Study Ideas for Spring

“The child should meet wholesome plants and animals as living realities, not as pictures in books.”

Another great thing about Charlotte Mason nature study is that it allows children to meet plants and animals in person. It’s one thing to see a picture of a plant or animal in a book, but it’s another thing to see it in real life. Can you really even explain the vastness of the ocean? Or the joy of lightning bugs? When children are able to meet plants and animals in person, they’re able to form a connection with them that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

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nature study flowers with charlotte mason quote homeschool

Homeschool Education Quotes

“Liveousness (zest) cannot be got from books; it must come fresh out of their own young minds.”

This quote is a reminder that hands-on learning is essential for young children. Don’t just read about animals or plants; go outside and see them for yourself! Let your children touch, smell, and feel the things they’re learning about. This will help them to really understand and remember what they’re learning. This quote doesn’t apply just to nature study, though. It applies to all aspects of education.

“There is no education but self-education.”

Self-education is key in nature study. Learning about the world around you doesn’t have to happen in a formal classroom setting; instead, take some time each day to explore your backyard or a nearby park. See what you can find and learn about it! You may be surprised at how much you can learn just by paying attention to your surroundings.

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”

This quote is often used to describe the Charlotte Mason method of education. Education is not just about acquiring knowledge; it is also about developing character and forming habits. A Charlotte Mason education seeks to provide an enriching environment in which children can learn and grow.

“There is no part of us which does not come under one or other of these heads; so that it behooves us to take care that every part develops itself according to its nature.”

This quote highlights the importance of a well-rounded education. A Charlotte Mason education covers a wide range of topics, from literature to science to history. This quote reminds us that every subject has something to offer, and we should make sure that we take advantage of all that education has to offer.

“The teacher who allows his scholars the freedom of the city of books is at liberty to be their guide, philosopher and friend; and is no longer the mere instrument of forcible intellectual feeding.”

When we give our children the permission and tools to seek knowledge on their own, we are giving them the gift of thinking on their own. We don’t need to force feed them our own thoughts – they will be fully capable to think critically and form their own thoughts and pursuits.

“Of all the joyous motives of school life, the love of knowledge is the only abiding one; the only one which determines the scale, so to speak, upon which the person will hereafter live.”

When I’m homeschooling, I try to remind myself that I can’t teach my kids everything. There will be gaps in some areas no matter how hard I try. However, the best method of education is to teach my children HOW to learn. Do they have the tools and resources to pursue their own interests and fascinations? If so, my kids will have a good life available to them.

watercolor books for homeschool and globe with charlotte mason literature quote

“To introduce children to literature is to install in them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child’s intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find.”

I know I’m not the only one who uses books as an escape. How many times have you brought yourself out of a book in some type of a daze – not longer sure of what century or continent you are in. When we provide our kids a good education, of which excellent literature is a part, we are giving them a whole new world.

“Give your child a single valuable idea, and you have done more for his education than if you had laid upon his mind the burden of bushels of information.”

Although these Charlotte Mason homeschool quotes are from days of yore, many of the ideas still apply. How many times have you been online and just felt completely overhwelmed with information? Our kids are no different. Provide fewer, but more valuable, ideas, and you will help your child along in his or her education.

Children are born persons.

Ooooh, I love this one. Even though Charlotte Mason was not secular, this idea that children are born persons seems to be foreign to some religious beliefs. Her philosophy was that children were complete and whole and deserved to have every emotion and thought as adults did. When I first heard this quote, it definitely went against the attitude that I was raised with regarding kids and their abilities. How about you?

Children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, at other times — a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their storybooks.

This is another great quote about that joy we find in stories and cultures and historical periods. Maybe I’m just a sucker for escape since I included two similar quotes? 🙂

watercolor purple flowers with blue bird and nest for charlotte mason homeschool decor

A book may be long or short, old or new, easy or hard, written by a great man or a lesser man, and yet be the living book which finds its way to the mind of a young reader.

We never know how a book will affect us. Have you ever excitedly told a friend about a recent read and had them reply, “I just couldn’t get in to it”? Different literature and living books will impact us differently, and we should expect no less for our kids. Just because you have fond childhood memories of a book does not mean your kids will have the same feelings. We must give our kids a diverse reading selection so they can find the ones that hold meaning for them.

The question is not, — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?

We can spew facts all day. Scientific principles may guide our career choices, but no amount of factual knowledge can make our lives richer if it is not applied. How big is our table? How do we serve our communities? How do we treat the most vulnerable? That, to me, is the far bigger question when I am educating my kids.

We cannot live sanely unless we know that other peoples are as we are with a difference, that their history is as ours, with a difference, that they too have been represented by their poets and their artists, that they too have their literature and their national life

Charlotte Mason has several quotes and writings on the importance of learning other languages and respecting other cultures. Interestingly enough, though, one of the biggest critiques of a “purist” Charlotte Mason education is how Eurocentric the history portion is. Perhaps that is simply a lack of materials from her time period rather than an implicit bias.

Today we have so many great books and resources to learn about and from other cultures and peoples. Like the aforementioned quote says, though, it isn’t just the head knowledge that makes a difference – but what will we do with it? Will our kids go out of their way to amplify the voices of vulnerable populations? Will they seek international experiences? Do they make friends with immigrants or people from other cultural backgrounds?

Charlotte Mason did appear to believe in a global perspective and sought to encourage this multicultural approach in her students.

self-discipline charlotte mason quote with green swags

I am, I can, I ought, I will.

This is perhaps one of the most recognized or popular Charlotte Mason homeschool quotes. I have seen some people use this quote to reference why children should be obedient, but I don’t think that’s how Charlotte Mason intended it to be used. Instead, it is a way for children to form a true sense of their own personhood, their own identities, and that they have power over their choices and resulting actions.

Charlotte Mason Sayings for the School Room

Charlotte Mason’s nature study and education quotes are as relevant today as they were over 100 years ago. If you’re looking for inspiration for your homeschooling days, be sure to check out her methods. Use what resonates with you, and don’t worry about doing it “wrong”. It’s a great way for children to connect with the world around them and learn about the world in a different way.

Using living books and nature study is a great way to get kids involved in hands-on projects and help them really understand and remember what they’re learning. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! Tell me in the comments your favorite Charlotte Mason quote, and don’t forget to check out the Charlotte Mason printables in the shop.

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