When our oldest son was five and ready to start Kindergarten we started looking for schools. We found a Catholic school. We filled out the paperwork and paid the registration fee. He took a placement test and a few weeks later we received an acceptance letter. All we had to do was sign and send it in. Well, I couldn't do it. I thought of the long days he would be spending away from home. I thought of all of the discoveries he would be making and the thought of him making them on his own, well, to be honest I wanted to be there with him. I wanted to help him make those discoveries and be there when he did. What a privilege that would be. After much discussion and prayer we started our home education journey.
At the time I didn’t know about different methods or philosophies. I had never researched the classical or traditional method. I didn’t know who Charlotte Mason was. I went on-line, found a Catholic curriculum and signed up
My first introduction to Charlotte Mason was when I read Elizabeth Foss’s book Real Learning. The way education was weaved into a beautiful family life was incredible. It is gentle and thoughtful. It made be look at home education in a whole new and wonderful way. Education really is a lifestyle.
When Elizabeth suggested reading Education is… from Simply Charlotte Mason. I went right over and downloaded and devoured it. So much to think about here I am still digesting all of this. I just wrote about some of my random thoughts. Won't you hop on over to Elizabeth's blog and join in on the conversation? Write a post and leave a link!
Charlotte Mason said “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” I believe all of this needs to permeate the home and together.
Atmosphere: I know in my own case my need to check off all of the boxes and the, rush, rush, rush to get it done really affects my children. School becomes a chore to them and to me. And there is no love of learning going on. I find I fall into this trap when I use the workbooks. I am not knocking them. I am using them right now. But I constantly have to keep myself in check. This has really hit home with me lately. Lately I have been asking myself the questions. What kind of atmosphere am I providing for my children? Am I allowing them to digest their discoveries? Are they really making any real discoveries if I am trying to get it done and check off the boxes?
“Education is a discipline” By “discipline” Charlotte meant the importance of cultivating good habits in our children-habits that they would then continue into their adult lives. In, fact she likened these good habits to railroad tracks that parents can lay down in their children’s lives, allowing the child to run on them smoothly into the future with little thought or effort. ~Education is..
This also hit home with me. This is a biggie in my household. Some of my children have more self- discipline than others. The ones that do, have a better work ethic and are more compliant. They accomplish more in a fulfilling way. I see how self discipline makes a positive difference. I am anxious to read Laying down the Rails from Simply Charlotte Mason to learn how to form those habits in all of my children and myself. Am I a good example of self discipline? Do I have good habits? Am I consistent?
Most of us were probably raised with textbooks, workbooks, and memorize-the-facts methods that earned us approval if we could regurgitate the facts on the true and false, fill in the blank and multiple choice tests. Yet how many of those facts do we remember now? How many of those classes lit a fire within us, causing us to think deeply on an idea and absorb it as a part of our very lives? ~Education is..
Again, for me it is finding the balance. I do believe that there are certain things that must be memorized, but are they making the deeper connection? For an example, at the homeschool convention I was at last week Sally Clarkson spoke and she said something that made me think about "lighting a fire instead of filling a bucket". She talked about how we all learned the poem about Columbus, you know "In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Well why? Learning that poem doesn't tell you that he lived in an inn with his father and as a young boy he would watch sailors come in and out of the inn and hear their stories. He was fascinated. He also wanted to discover these far away lands. It is about making that deeper connection not just memorizing the facts.
I once posted that I needed to try and find a way to make my current curriculum fun or we would all burn out. I had a couple of people e-mail me and my best girlfriend called me concerned and conveyed that not everything should be fun because we all are going to have to do things that are not fun. I whole heartily agree. And I don't think Charlotte Mason thought that a child's education should be all fun. However, I do think learning should not be a chore. And this is where "education is a life" makes sense to me. Their lives should be filled with learning, embracing “noble” ideas, making connections and doing so in a natural and gentle way (aha, atmosphere!). Isn't this also where the discipline comes in, so learning isn't laborious? So that they have the discipline to work through their struggles and persevere.
I really filled privileged to have my children home with me. I feel privileged to teach them. I love that their daily environment is not a classroom, but our home where we daily live out our faith. We learn together, love together, and yes, even sin together. But, we are constantly growing and most importantly growing in our faith. Together.