I’ve been contemplating for a while now the things I’d like to study with my boys this next school year.
This year has gone pretty well considering all the changes we have gone through from moving back to
Kentucky, having daddy come home, moving to Germany, living in a hotel for a month, finally getting a
house and settling in, sending my oldest to German school, etc… However I kept feeling like things were
not running as smoothly as I’d like. It was starting to become more of a chore than a joy and I knew I
needed to make some changes for this next year.
We’ve been using Ambleside Online’s booklist for our primary curriculum, however I always get stuck on the schedule. I don’t think I’m the only homeschool mom who obsesses over the “schedule” it seems like we’re always trying to validate our role as teacher. I constantly worry about whether we are spending enough TIME “doing” school (quantity vs quality). Trying to plan out my day to the minute and finding I can NEVER stick to a schedule. And darn it, things never take as long as you expect them too and (coming from a public educational background) longer is better…right?!?
I was about halfway through reading Home Education by Charlotte Mason when one of my good friends and fellow homeschooling mom recommended I read the Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola (so much easier to digest). I also read Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson. I LOVED both books and both were an answer to prayers in so many ways. I view these two books as the ultimate homeschooling Bible’s, they contain everything you need to know to educate a child.
One thing that really spoke to me from the Charlotte Mason Companion was the comment that because our children are children of God, they have so many possibilities available to them and it is our role as mothers to help them believe this and discover their potential. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “To excite this relationship or appetite toward things lovely, honest, and of good report is the earliest and most important ministry of the educator”. I also love her ideas on raising children who are magnanimous and enthusiastic.
What better way to do this than through living books? We already spend the majority of our time reading living books yet I didn’t think it was enough. That nagging fear of inadequacy and wondering what my kids are learning compared to public schools or other homeschoolers, trying to find new “curriculum” to fill the hours of the day, trying to make our day look like “school”. Sound familiar?
As I finished reading the Charlotte Mason Companion and Charlotte Mason’s Home Education, I think the most important thing I gained was a feeling of confidence that at this age (under ten), reading and narration IS enough. I don’t need an expensive curriculum, require my children to document all their learning or create a craft for every subject learned. It IS enough to have fun learning through reading and in fact having too structured a day detracts from their ability to learn for themselves and remain enthusiastic about learning.
In their books, Karen and Charlotte emphasize again and again the fact that children are naturally curious and love to learn by nature. It is our job as parents to feed that curiosity and enthusiasm with good literature so their desire will increase rather than fizzle and die as happens to so many children at much too young an age.
Charlotte Mason says,“Children are always naturally curious. They are always willing and wanting to learn something new about God, man, or the universe. And any school that snuffs out the flame of enthusiastic curiosity robs a child of his childhood and is not a fit school for children.” I initially related that statement only to public schools. Then I had to take a look at my own school and ask myself am I doing the same thing? Yes, even in homeschool we can stifle curiosity and creativity by over thinking over planning and over scheduling.
I expected Educating the Wholehearted Child to be a motivational book, I had no idea it was a complete homeschool guide. This book covers everything you need to know to start homeschooling, from the why’s to the how’s and everything in between. It will probably take me the rest of the year to digest all the content in this book. They even include planning pages and booklists. If you’re new to homeschooling or thinking about homeschooling, I highly recommend this book. One quote that I love is:
“Your goal…is not just to make your children good test-takers but rather to shape their hearts and strengthen their minds to become self-motivated, independent learners. And because you have a personal, God-given, one-on-one relationship with each of your children, you are much better qualified and equipped to reach that goal than a classroom teacher whose attention is divided between your child and twenty or more other children.”
After reading these books I feel like I am finally free from the obsession with having a “perfect” homeschool schedule (which doesn’t exist anyway!) I’ve started scheduling our time based on books we want to read rather than planning each hour of our day. The only thing we use our “school” room for now is crafts and projects, the rest of the day we are curled up on the couch reading or learning through real life experiences and activities. I feel like I finally understand what Charlotte Mason was trying to teach and it’s simply brilliant. Like A Thomas Jefferson Education, the greatest minds of days past were educated through the classics, not as an afterthought, but as the main text (modern society has proven that textbooks do not produce the same quality of individuals).
I feel so much more confident about the literature selections I’ve chosen for this and next year’s study and feel that I am doing enough. Rather than seeking out new curriculum that looks and feels more like “real school” I can look at our books with new appreciation and respect. The fact that my children can narrate back to me what they have learned (often in great detail) shows that they are gaining knowledge, not just learning facts for a test, but learning for life.
My hope is that by having fun reading living books during these early years rather than having a structured curriculum and routine, they will gain a love of all things and desire to learn more and the word “school” will be synonymous with “life”.
I can’t let you go without sharing a photo…what mother doesn’t cherish
the sight of her child falling asleep to a good book?
If you’ve been a sport and stuck with me through all my rambling…you will be rewarded with the lovely quotes above in two styles, chevron or swiss dot. Just click on this link http://cariosbornephotography.zenfolio.com/subwayart, click “view all products” and select “downloads”!