“The children’s lessons should provide material for their mental growth, should exercise the several powers of their minds, should furnish them with fruitful ideas, and should afford them knowledge, really valuable for its own sake, accurate, and interesting, of the kind that the child may recall as a man with profit and pleasure.” – Charlotte Mason
As I begin to get my thoughts finalized for this coming “school year” I tend to get overwhelmed and want to plan too much. This quote comes in handy for me to reflect on as I choose books and make an outline of subjects to cover. I find once I start to think of the year ahead I want to choose interesting, fun and engaging materials and topics, always hoping to get that spark out of my children. My initial reaction is to browse my favorite sites and bookmark pages and all kinds of activities to use throughout the year. However, when I go to look back I tend to confuse my self as well as become overwhelmed! I know many of us go through the same process each year. Here are my thoughts:
This is our second official year of homeschooling, we were eclectic last year as it was our first year getting our feet wet and I was honestly not sure what we were doing, only knowing a new challenge and lifestyle lie ahead of us. My oldest asked me to homeschool him and I knew in my heart I did not want to send him back to public school, it was not suiting him in the least! So, after little thought…. I said ok, let’s jump aboard and do this! I knew of a few families who homeschooled, got some advice and so it began.
As we progressed through the year and I found out more about my teaching style, even though I had by trait been a teacher for over 15 years this was new territory and we were like most things figuring it out as we went along. This year I knew we were going to follow the Charlotte Mason method after much reading and research during last year. I found we all love to go to the library and left so excited with new literature in hand, which is one of the methods that stands out most in the CM method- using “living books” to teach. Instead of using dry text books with a typical Q and A, instead after a subject has been taught, you use books written by an author who has a true passion for the topic at hand told in a story form, which seems to come alive and have a deeper connection to the student. As we read, we pause and discuss through dialogue and narration for an evaluation of understanding, which requires a deeper understanding as the child process the information, re-calls facts by speaking or makes drawings of details that stand out in his/her mind.
The other method that stood out for us was the philosophy of spending time outdoors. My oldest son thrives on nature and sciences! I discovered that most topics he became excited about were related to science topics and he indeed began his own nature notebook before I was truly aware of what one was. He really became infatuated with birds by the end of winter last year and asked for some books on birds and conducted his own research and recordings! He grabbed his field guide every time he saw a “new bird” and memorized lots of the names of the birds he had spotted.
So, in short, with the quote in mind, and the philosophy of Charlotte Mason I see actually in play and working so well for my children, I am reeling my self back in for my final outline of the year ahead. Being who I am however, I am not 100% CM, I tend to always look for balance in everything and therefore we will be tweaking things here and there as we go I’m sure, as not all of CM’s strategies work for all of us. I will use some workbooks with Q and A’s, and computer technology for some of my teachings and any other idea that surface.
Hope this was a bit helpful for some of you just starting out on your own journey- I can honestly say I LOVE homeschooling and if you would’ve told me that I’d be homeschooling years ago I would have thought you were crazy! It never even entered my mind until, like most major life changes, BAM! here’s a curve ball for you!
So, if you are thinking of homeschooling- You CAN do it! It just takes a will and some dedication, but the results and self- fulfillment are indescribable!