Finding our Charlotte Mason way…

A few years ago I came across the methods of Charlotte Mason and they resonated with all my feelings on what our homeschool should be. I wanted learning to be natural in our home. I didn’t want my kids to learn from pieces of material and passages of history and science, but from entire books and full works of literary magnificence. Naturally, I dove right in and bought very long, intense, picture less, and dry history and nature science books. Books intended for high schoolers. Weren’t we supposed to aim above level and assume the child can understand it? Not in the way I was doing it. 

In the last couple of years I have come to tweak and change and mix and match in order that we give our children the best education possible and we stick with the conviction that children are persons who should be treated as individuals as they are introduced to a variety of richness. Just like Miss Mason, our pivot is Christ. Christians develop a Christian view when Christ comes to live in their hearts. I didn’t want them getting a “Christian message” tacked on top of the usual aims and views of society. We discover Christ in everything we do and He’s central to our homeschool. The point of our education is that my children learn what they need to know to live out their convictions and become successful in their endeavors, and they do it on the foundation of Christ.

Somewhere along the way, I began to focus on more, more, and more of an advanced education and the more classical it became the more I lost my vision of Christ. My original goal and purpose in homeschooling at all began with the desire to give them the best education money and time could give, in a healthy, comfortable, and nurturing academic environment. I didn’t want their time wasted because it’s valuable and all they need each day is a few hours and the rest can be spent responding to nature, going places and being involved in the community outside of their peer based classes and sports, and building their dreams one paint stroke and one LEGO at a time. But, I had in fact created the opposite environment and demanded too much too soon and our learning home school became dull. And when little boys are bored, they twiddle their thumbs, daydream out the window, and waste time. In my quest to get bigger and better and do more, more, more, I lost sight of Christ.

We are a Charlotte Mason family all the way, but we are not slaves to another person’s exact ideas. This wonderful teacher said herself that there is no “one way” or one set of books, or one set of materials which is completely right, That is the greatest benefit of her method, it can lend itself to any collection of greatly written books and it can be carried out in any enviroment with access to nature, pen & pencil, and beautiful music, great works of art, and an understanding that Christ is the Author of our homeschool.

Life with children (and in general) is a journey and the great part of a journey is that we are growing and changing all the time. We take an idea that is central around Christ and we have tailor-made it fit our family. We have dropped books recommended by CM that were good books, but absolutely too dry for my boys and that’s okay. We use materials that work for us and not all of them are from the early 1900’s, although some of my favorites are. Charlotte Mason was enthusiastic about education and believed children should learn obedience and discipline when it comes to learning, that information should not be dumbed down (which most modern school books are) and that children should spend the bulk of their afternoon involved in creative and playful activities they enjoy.  

Christ lets little children remain who they are. Should I try to force or advance a subject too quickly, I run the risk of teaching him that he is not smart enough or learning to read or write fast enough. If my child knows his multiplication tables at 10 rather than at 8 years of age, it’s okay. Sometimes children are just not ready to so certain things when the “master list of when kids learn each skill” says they should learn it. I don’t know who decided kids could read at 5. One of my children learned at 4. Another is almost 7 and is just learning now. I have boys and they don’t enjoy being forced to write about topics they have no investment in. So I am waiting and letting them develop interests that inspire writing. In the meantime they copy great works of writing and narrate back to me great writing which has been read to them. This is more important than freaking out because he can’t (read, write, add, subtract, memorize multiplication tables, or whatever else children learn) and buying a bunch of workbooks. Nothing against workbooks because they have their place in some subjects, but they seem to break up a thought which should be learned in its whole and turn it into unnatural pieces in other subjects.

All in all, I make mistakes and I learn, but with Christ as the Head of our home we can’t go wrong. When we make a mistake, He is gracious and allows life to come even out of the wrong I’ve done. It was my own pride that fueled the pushing and pushing so that we would prove to the world that I was a great “teacher” and my kids were smart “students”. I am no longer concerned with how things look to others. I am only concerned that they are learning in an environment which compliments the faith that Christ is at the core of our lives.

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Love,

Jackie

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