We've been homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool for many years. Everything about her philosophy was just "right". I totally fell in love with her living books, her rigorous yet gentle approach to lessons. I believe totally in the 'Science of Relations', in her statement that 'Children are persons' and in her entire approach to educating both the mind and the soul of a child.
As we approached and entered our High School years and started thinking about what hoops we needed to jump through in order to achieve our aims, I found that compromises would have to be made in my beautiful Charlotte Mason homeschool - and I struggled.
*I struggled with having to work with materials that Charlotte Mason would not have endorsed.
*I struggled with daily guilt because I felt that I was compromising on my children's education
*I struggled with a feeling of alienation because silently I was 'listening' to the messages sent out over the ether that if you didn't follow CM's philosophy to-a-T then you were not really CM at heart. Oh yes! There are purists out there that follow CM like a demi-god, something I don't think Miss Mason would have approved of.
I felt a complete failure.
I know that there are others out there that feel this way and I want to say that, 'its okay!'
It's taken me a while to get to a point of release. I've had to work through emotional feelings and separate lies from truth and to let go of things that held me tied down in bondage and rather to embrace the freedom that is always in Christ.
So here we go ... Things I have learnt that have released me from my feelings of guilt and self-condemnation.
* Our home schools should have God at it's centre.
He called me to teach my children and learning about Him is what is key. He did not tell me that above all else I needed to be CM purest. He said, "Teach your children in the way that they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it". He said, " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lied down and when you get up." (Deut. 6:5-7)
Our calling to teach our children at home was not to give them a perfect academic education. I work hard, seek God, and implement the very best education I can because we are do all things to the best of our abilities. But God's heart is that our children KNOW Him.
As I have delved into the CM method over the years to learn more and more about her philosophy, the thought occurred to me more than once that there are those to take the study and implementation of her methods VERY seriously. I wonder what better people we would all be if we applied the same passion to learning God's Word?
This realisation has helped me to let go of the guilt in not being a 'purest' and that is okay with me. If I should strive to be a purest then may it be a purest of being a Christ follower.
* Don't Let The Tail Wag The Dog!
Curriculum is a tool. It is not the secret to successfully raising and educating a child. If a child can be taught to love learning and to work hard, then success is bound to come his/her way. It's attitude that counts, not loading a child's brain with all the 'just right' materials. Curriculum needs to remain in it's rightful place and not be elevated to more than it deserves.
* Look At The Big Picture.
Our children are not going to remain our 'little' ones forever. They are gong to grow up. They are going to need to forge their own way in the world. They are going to need to make a living. They are going to comply by rules and regulations in order to achieve their dreams and goals in some instances. For example, to attend a University you have to meet certain requirements. More than likely they are going to have to produce some sort of certificate to prove that they have met the required entry requirements. Our job is to equip them in this area.
This is what I looked at when we felt we needed to switch from the way we were doing things to following a more structured and 'textbooky' program. I hated it! My girls quite enjoyed it! But we knew that we would need to meet an entry requirement at some point. Our youngest has always wanted to go to University. Our eldest not at all she recently started an apprenticeship and has realised that she wants more for her life. She's coming back home to complete her A-levels so that she can go to uni in 2017.
* Compromise Can Work and Can Be A Good Thing!
Life is full of compromise isn't it? We simply cannot go through life having it all on our own terms. We will be frightfully unhappy if we do. Compromise can be had too while still meeting the requirements of a program that is so NOT Charlotte Mason! We use A.C.E in our homeschool but I make it work for us. I have tweaked and adjusted it so that we still fit in some of our favourite CM things like poetry, composer study, art appreciation, read aloud, nature study and narration.
Over the next few weeks I will do a series of posts that show just how I implement these things with a program that is very structured and how you can still benefit from applying Miss Mason's methods without being a 'purist'.
My hope is that you as a hard-working homeschooling mum will be able to let go of any guilt and self-condemnation that you might be feeling and instead feel free to homeschool your children in peace and joy.
Blessings in Christ,