Topical CM Series

Charlotte Mason's ideas are too important not to be understood and implemented in the 21st century, but her Victorian style of writing sometimes prevents parents from attempting to read her books. This is an imperfect attempt to make Charlotte's words accessible to modern parents. You may read these, print them out, share them freely--but they are copyrighted to me, so please don't post or publish them without asking.
~L. N. Laurio

The Charlotte Mason Series in Modern English Arranged Topically

Physical Education

Volume 1, Home Education, pg 83-85

Jumping-rope and Badminton

Baseball, tennis, and soccer are great games when children are old enough for them. They help develop the muscles and teach children the discipline of  playing by the rules. But our mother with her small group of children under nine won't be up for such organized games. They will more likely be playing tag, follow the leader, racing, chasing and all kinds of fun games that they'll make up. Even better is a hoop, a ball, a racquet, or a jump rope. The best kind of jump rope is a single skipping rope. Jumping backwards through it is even healthier than forward because the chest expands more. Badminton is a good game, providing an opportunity to excel. It is worth noting that Jane Austen was so good at shuttlecock (a game like badminton) that she impressed her nieces and nephews. In badminton, practicing in order to get good exercises many muscles and develops grace. It can be played indoors or out. The best practice is to keep the birdie in the air with a racquet in each hand to develop both arm muscles. But for me to arbitrarily assign one game over another is pointless since games tend to change in fashionable popularity as much as clothing styles.


Mothers don't like their children to climb very much. Ripped clothes, scraped knees, and toes making holes in shoes (and even worse accidents!) make it a risky amusement. Yet it really is great exercise. Few skills use so many muscle groups and yet develop grace. And the bravery and resourcefulness it demands are so beneficial that even girls should be encouraged to try it. Children learn to heed caution, too, which makes them less prone to take foolish dares. Remember not to panic if a child looks precarious--don't startle the child by yelling out 'Get down from there!' or 'You'll break your neck!' because that could actually make the child fall. Town children can also go boating or swimming by taking a trip to the sea or the lake on a vacation. Or, they can use swimming pools in town. Most children should learn to swim at age seven, not just because it could keep them safe in the water, but because it's a fun way to use their muscles.


Children should be dressed appropriately for their outings, preferably in wool, serge or flannel. Wool is better than cotton and linen because it helps retain some body heat but doesn't attract the sun's heat. So a child wearing wool who is hot from playing won't get a sudden chill from losing heat too quickly like a child wearing linen. And he stays cooler in the sun and warmer in the shade.

Volume 1, Home Education, pg 85

Winter Walks are as Necessary as Summer Walks

So far, everything here has been for summer weather, but it's not summer in our part of the world all year. But how to get fresh air and exercise in wet or cold weather is more important since most people don't need any encouragement to be outside when the weather is nice. The best thing is for children to be outside in the winter for 2 or 3 hours a day, maybe broken up so that they're out for a while in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

Pleasures of Walks in Frost and Snow

When there's frost or snow on the ground, children have fun sliding, throwing snowballs and building from snow. But even when the snow is slushy and dirty, or the sky is gray, they should have interesting things to do outside so that their hearts are cheerful even when the day is cold and dreary.

Volume 1, Home Education, pg 132

IX. Physical Exercises

Important to Do Daily

The subject of training the eye and muscles was already discussed in the earlier section on Outdoor Life [starting on page 42]. I just want to add one more thing. The child should know the joy of managing his body with light, easy motion, like a good rider does on a horse. So every day should include some sort of physical exercise--dancing, calisthenics, or other exercise. Swedish drill [military calisthenics that were popular at the time, see a photo of children doing their drill] is especially valuable, and can be done with the youngest children. Alertness and quickness in exercise can carry over to focused eye contact, prompt response and intelligent replies, but often children who are otherwise obedient don't have these qualities because they haven't had enough physical training.


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Paraphrased by L. N. Laurio; Please direct comments or questions to AmblesideOnline.