How a Charlotte Mason Education Helps Special Needs Children: Part I

Jan 15, 2013

The Charlotte Mason method respects a child's natural limits and is a most useful method of education for special needs children.

I think we all know I love the Charlotte Mason method. But now that I'm truly understanding that we are a special needs family, I realize how it helps us in so many other ways. 

I believe this method is beneficial to all children, but I've thought of a few ways that it really helps those with special needs.

Living Books Stimulate and Inspire

Children with bipolar disorder and dyslexia have very vivid imaginations. These children can be distracted, but are very creative. 

Giving them books that stimulate their imaginations almost ensures their focus. Many times, it inspires them to do something else such as draw, write their own story, or explore something in nature.

Family Studies Give Support When Needed

Alexis is 14 and usually a child is reading and doing their work on their own long before this age. In fact, by age 10, they can do nearly all of their assignments independently. 

However, Alexis has several processing disorders - dyslexia (a language processing disorder), dyscalculia (a math disability) and dysgraphia (a writing disability). 

Children with dyslexia have no concept of time, have short-term memory problems, and a host of other symptoms. 

Giving Alexis assignments and expecting them to be remembered, much less done in a timely manner, would be asking the world of her.

Fortunately, with the CM method, I am able to teach multiple ages which helps keep her in a group setting. 

She gains the knowledge in a way in which she's not left to flounder. I do give her independent assignments, but perhaps not as much as others her age. 

In time, as she has more help from specialists, we'll be able to transition her to more and more independent work.

Learn how to use the 
Charlotte Mason method!


Narration is one of the foundations of a Charlotte Mason education. 

It certainly helps children with A.D.H.D., bipolar disorder, and dyslexia, as these children tend to have co-existing challenges with reading, writing and math.

Narration is a huge help for any child with reading or writing challenges.

It is recommended that children begin writing their narrations at a certain age, but this can always be adapted for children with writing challenges.

Narration, copywork, and dictation are the tools used to teach proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. To eliminate any of them would be a disservice to my children. 

When requiring writing from Alexis, I give her more time to complete it.

As well, children with dysgraphia do better with keyboarding than writing. Many times, she can simply type her work. 

Giving fewer handwritten assignments and more time to complete them help her to maintain her handwriting skills without overwhelming her.

Short Lessons Benefits Special Needs Kids

I guess this is a no-brainer. Shorter lessons are helpful to children with attention issues or short-term memory problems. 

Children with bipolar disorder or dyslexia are easily distracted and the shorter lessons really are accommodating to this challenge.

These are just a few things that come to mind when considering how this method helps my children in their homeschooling. There will be more in Part II.

Happy Homeschooling!


  1. Oh yes, Charlotte Mason is a fantastic curriculum for special needs children. I have one with autism that has flourished with it. Love the post!

  2. Wonderful info and tips. Thank you for a great visit via the Hip Homeschool Hop.

  3. Thanks for dropping by from the hop!

  4. Hi Michelle - have you heard of Lexercise?

  5. Yes. Unfortunately, the screener has huge letters and very simple "words" that any 14-year-old can read (especially when the font is gigantic). So she passed the screener and assessment with flying colors despite the fact that she is Dyslexic. I wrote to them. They called but I was working. I am getting back with them this week.

  6. Anonymous8/21/2013

    I'm falling in love with Charlotte Mason! I wish I had discovered her earlier on my HS journey, but so glad I did no matter how my kids are. I've spent most of the summer reading away about her philosophy on education and it's really inspired the direction I plan to take from here on out. I just got her original 6 volume set in the mail yesterday and can't wait to get started on it!

    1. I wish I had discovered it earlier too. I unschooled my first set of kids. It's been a learning journey for us all.

    2. Anonymous8/28/2013

      Thank you for this post Michelle. I have been learning all I can about Charlotte Mason and her approach to home education. We have been using living books to learn from as a starting point. My son is showing signs of dyslexia so I have been interested to see how narration works.

    3. Hi Suzie! If you need any help along the way, let me know.

  7. So thankful to have come across this post. I have an 8 year old daughter, who technically would be in 3rd grade, but we had her repeat a grade so she is in 2nd. I recently had her tested through a CMS, the teacher used the Woodcock Johnson test and was blown away at how well she narrated yet failed miserably at everything else, and said she is about 2 years behind - meaning a K5 level. My husband and I knew that she struggled in math (not getting the basics and having to restart over and over again), reading (dog becomes god, saw becomes was, b is d and so on) and handwriting (labored), we also knew that her maturity level is not that of a "typical" 8 year old - but it was still devastating to hear from someone else. We had her vision checked and it was confirmed that she has some farsightedness which requires glasses while reading and doing any computer work, however after doing more research we believe (without having testing done) that she has dyslexia and dysgraphia - we have been using CM methods for a year and a half now and I was considering switching - after reading this post, the comments that have followed as well as other related post on different sites, I am convinced that CM is the way to go. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Shelly,

      I'm glad you've found encouragement here. If I can help, let me know. I fully understand your struggle and feel the frustration. I'd be happy to help in any way I can.

  8. What is your background/training? Dyslexia is a specific learning disability in reading, it does not cause a child to have "no concept of time" etc.

    1. I don't see what my background/training has to do with the matter. I have raised children with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia. As with any disorder or illness, that means I've had to learn everything about it in order to properly assist, raise and advocate for my children. It means we've had specialists involved and they disagree with your statement that it's reading disorder (my kids read very well) and that it doesn't affect every aspect of their lives. You can read about the symptoms yourself if you'd like:

      And always keep in mind that one dyslexic person may have different symptoms than another. This disorder comes in mild, moderate and profound. My daughter is profoundly dyslexic, while my son is not. He has no problem with time and can tell time on a clock with hands, while she has trouble with both of these. Just like autism and bipolar disorder, it's a spectrum disorder.

    2. Whoever that is questioning her background and concept of time you are totally incorrect. Dyslexics can struggle big with sequencing - calendar, such as next week, tomorrow, this weekend, weekdays vs weekends, etc... not grasping the sequencing and challenges with retaining these meanings . My 8 yr old is brilliant and struggles with this big. We go over it everyday. Have a calendar. She asks the same questions everyday and we just repeat over and over. Dyslexics also can have struggles with certain math sequencing, and also reading may seem to be ok while spelling is super hard. Or vice versa. I think you need to educate yourself before you comment.

    3. You are correct! Dyslexia is a language processing disorder (tied in with central auditory processing disorder). My kids struggled to understand the spoken word just as much as the written.


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