Charlotte Mason & Learning Disabilities

There are a number of ways that the Charlotte Mason method can help you teach children with learning disabilities/difficulties.  I am going to highlight some of the main elements of a Charlotte Mason education and how they can help you teach children who need to learn in different ways.

Living books:

There are a number of learning disabilities that prevent children (and adults!) from being able to read easily. Dyslexia is one of the most common.  However, there is no reason why a child with dyslexia, or any other reading difficulty, cannot be exposed to quality books in his/her education.  For children who are struggling with dyslexia in school, there are accommodations made.  One of the most frequent accommodations is having materials and tests read aloud to the student.  Audio books or a willing parent/sibling/friend who can read aloud are all that is needed.  People with dyslexia have no trouble at all comprehending difficult material and forming intelligent thoughts and opinions about it – in fact they are just as capable as anyone else – they just need a different presentation.  Quality, non-twaddle, books are the right choice for everyone, regardless of how the information in the book is learned.

Work on increasing skills and necessary remediation at the child’s pace, but don’t make a lack of reading ability a reason to serve inferior books (or no books!) over living books.


Have a child who struggles with putting words on paper or dysgraphia?  Oral narration is the perfect solution.  I haven’t met a child yet who is unable to tell what they know.  We have enough technology today to capture thoughts and record them in some fashion – a digital voice recorder, dictation software, etc.  Expressing a well-formed, intelligent thought or opinion is within your child’s grasp.  Think outside the box about “how” he or she might be able to do that based on current challenges.  You left the school model for a reason, so work within that freedom.

Living Math:

Perhaps you have a child who struggles with dyscalculia or a general learning disability that makes mathematics challenging.  Presenting math in a living, real-life application format is the best way to approach the topic for those who struggle.  The real challenge will be finding resources to help you teach math as a living topic.  Most homeschool curriculum approaches math in the same way the school system does; rote memorization and pages of problems.  There are living math books, but the best bet would be to enlist the help of a math teacher who is passionate about making math come alive.  Or take up the job on your own.  With research and access to the internet, it’s easier than ever to create math problems that are accessible and presented in a useful format.  Math problems worth solving are the problems that make math seem fun.

As with dyslexia, continue to work on remediation and acquiring helpful skills, but the approach should be parallel.  While working on basics (perhaps memorizing arithmetic) the student can also be learning more difficult applications.

Composer Study:

Classical music helps us learn – it’s a fact!  Even if your kids don’t want to learn about the composers, put some of the music on to increase familiarity and give them a boost in other areas, like memory and spatial reasoning.  It certainly can’t hurt, and study after study has already proven it can help.

Picture/Artist Study:

Our brains feel rewarded when we look at painted works of art.  Check out the article here.  Enough said!

Of course, there are many more elements to a Charlotte Mason education, but one might say these elements are the “heart” of the philosophy.  I don’t know about you, but it seems that Miss Mason was one smart lady!  She came up with methods that can help all students learn, it just takes a little bit of imagination and effort.


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