For me Charlotte Mason's method is largely about a feeling. It's much more difficult to nail this element down. I can't give you a reading list or a checklist. What does the home feel like? Is it warm and inviting? Are the children learning all the time? Do they have a spirit of interest and are they intrigued by anything they don't know or fully understand? Do they love to read and you find them reading all the time on their own? Do they love music? How do they spend their free time?
Is the home peaceful without feeling like a mausoleum? There's a lot of laughter in my home, but there is a lot of quiet too. When the tv is on, it has to be kept down. Everyone needs to be respectful and refrain from continually taking the volume of the house up by talking over one another or the television.
Free time? I think a CM home finds children working on projects, making art, listening to music, reading, and of course enjoying the outdoors. I think electronics have to be greatly limited. Unless you have a child doing graphic art, video production, music composition or some other study/hobby requiring the computer/electronics, they should be directed to other activities. I have a guideline of about 1 hour of video gaming/computer gaming each day per child.
You have to be well prepared. Have books, games, paints, crafts, clay, models, sewing projects, recipes and lots of ideas. You don't need to Ms. Crafty & Creative but you have to be determined. The internet, books, blogs, and message boards are so filled with ideas you could never do them all. When the kids seem to be bored or wanting to lose themselves into the tv or video game...snap them out of it. Give them the video camera and tell them to make grandma a video or make a movie with their dolls or action figures. Let them loose in the kitchen to bake a cake or make bread. Pull out the paints and see what happens. They start slow but then they take off on their own.
It should feel safe, comfortable, and interesting. It should be a home where ideas, events, beliefs, all things are discussed, dissected and appreciated. It is marked by respect. Respect for the parent, one another, the home, nature, and all their blessings. It finds it's strength in responsibility, each person taking care of their duties, and striving to do them well. It is accented by beauty, good food, music and all the finer things in life.
Yesterday my youngest (7) William spent time watching birds from the front windows in the classroom. He identified the them, and watched them retrieve materials for their nests. With the binoculars he could track them to a great distance and see them return. He spotted sea gulls and we determined that they had likely come down from Lake Michigan, which we located on the large wall map, and chatted about how long it took them to fly here, and what they'd seen.
He and Taylor spent hours working with clay. Corey worked outside, cleaned stalls and split wood. We did lots of reading, computer work, and math.
I made rice krispy treats and we watched Animal Planet in the evening. It was a laid back day and we didn't hit all the academic marks I might have set, but I was not about to stop their clay work to do book work and that is fine by me.