Before I share our curriculum choices for this school year, I must tell you a story.
Late last fall, in the faintest of ways, I sensed a change upcoming in our homeschool. Nothing was terribly wrong, we all enjoyed our days. Honestly, all was well.
But underneath it all, something brewed though I couldn’t put my finger on it. At first, I fell into the ugly trap of comparing myself and our homeschool to others. Ugh.
That’s not usually a struggle for me at all! I rarely focus on measuring up to others’ expectations, or thinking I’m somehow better than they are (don’t worry, I have plenty of other hang-ups :))!
My husband began to hear the litany of my now-complicated issues with our homeschooling. My questions, huge doubts and growing fears crept into our conversations here and there — and then everywhere! Can we pause to honor his patience with me? Really, I grew tired of listening to myself at times.
My heart experienced quite the struggle, but then something changed.
I began to commit the whole thing to open, I’m-listening-Lord prayer (imagine that?). Up until that point, my prayers were of the desperate sort: begging, fretting, and somewhat anxious.
Through conversations with my spouse, much-loved homeschool books, God’s word and more peaceful prayer...I awoke to this realization:
The thing to change in our homeschool was ME.
The way homeschooling flowed for a number of years needed examining and overhauling, but I couldn’t see this. Why? Because it had been so successful! I was finally in my stride, riding a rhythm and groove, then whhaaat!?
We needed to do things differently? Yes, it was true. Read slowly through Charlotte Mason’s words here:
“We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young minds and hearts about us. Our endeavours become fussy and restless. We are too much with our children, ‘late and soon.’ We try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education.” Charlotte Mason, Vol 3, p. 27, 28 (emphasis mine)
This ‘too much with the children’ had created undercurrent tensions I wasn’t aware of at first.
While my husband and I are supporters of great education everywhere (he consults both public and private schools), one way we part with traditional methods is in the belief children always need attending to in order to learn.
In other words, children need a teacher to teach so they can be educated. It’s simply not always true.
Yet, here I was caught in this very thing! Our middle two children, ages 7 and 10, walk to the beat of a different drum. Quite honestly, they do not need (or require) the level of Mom-teaching time my first two so appreciated at their ages. I could see this, but felt as if they were interrupting my teaching with all their learning!
So I’ve spent the entire summer intentionally observing my children…especially the two in question. I took note of their motivation to learn (without much teaching or prompting from me). I watched for what ideas they followed, books they gravitated towards, how they played, and what they chose to fill their time with.
I (re)learned who my children are at the core.
All the while, I sorta-kinda feared we’d end up homeschooling free spirits, adopting non-conventional ways of living and learning, laying aside aspects of traditional methods. Soaring the landscape of education with solely a few books in our bag, and a pen in our pockets!
With a quizzical look on his face the day I expressed these concerns, my husband said in reality, we’ve been on that path for some time. Well, alrighty then. 🙂
So with my heart settled, vision clear, I’ve moved forward into shaping this ‘wise and purposeful letting alone’ Charlotte describes. I simply needed to get out of the way of their learning, and stop fussing so much with organizing unit studies, book lists, significant lesson plans and the like.
Have we dumped all of our methods? Thrown out Mom teaching them anything at all? Stopped taking classes? NO. But things are really different around here.
In the next few posts, I’ll share a peek into each child’s journey…