You might already be asking yourself: What do you mean let go of school? Isn’t homeschooling all about school at home?
Yes and no — and the longer I homeschool, the more I understand the “no” side. Let me explain…
When we started homeschooling, I thought I was being pretty out of the box to select a multi-age curriculum program that my 2nd and 4th grade daughters could both use (at different levels of complexity) and that I could teach them together. Quite a leap from the traditional school environment they were used to, right? However, about six months into that first homeschool year, I began to realize that my daughters were losing interest in their school work — and I wasn’t looking forward to it either. I thought changing curriculum would smooth out the kinks, however I soon learned that curriculum was only one piece of the puzzle.
I remembered a book I had picked up at the library — a Charlotte Mason Companion book called A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola. One of the first lines that jumped out at me was a quote from Charlotte Mason herself: “Education is a science of relations.”
It was an “ah-ha!” moment that seemed to address the heart of my frustrations. For whatever reason, those six words dispelled the bit of fog that was lingering in my mind like a ray of sun. It was a concept that made crystal clear sense to me. I realized that I had the opportunity to help my girls develop a new relationship with learning — as well as a new facet of their relationship with me.
The new relationship with learning starts with ability to take your children out of the box of what they are expecting school work to be like and give them the chance to learn in unexpected ways — and learn all the time! I realized that I could choose curriculum designed to teach around that concept (so we use Trail Guide to Learning, based on living books vs. textbooks), but I also had the opportunity to mix and match even those lesson plan suggestions with the interests of my daughters and what was going on in our lives at the time. By our third year, I began to let our days flow more organically with the learning journey that our family was on.
I think it’s interesting that as parents, we teach our kids from the day they enter our lives without even thinking twice about it. We teach them through everything we model, everything we say, and how we relate to them and to others. Sometimes we read books about it, or ask for the advice of others, but on a day-to-day basis, we’re making instinctive decisions about how to teach our children.
However, for some reason the idea of adding “school” to the picture throws us off — or at least it did me. We’ve already developed a teaching relationship with our children, yet we’re overwhelmed with the idea of adding school books and new subjects to the equation. The fact is we’re still doing the same job we always have: We’re helping them connect with the world around them. Education is a science of relations. And we are blessed with an opportunity to teach our children to develop a life-long love for learning, not just to memorize facts for tests or check items off the list from a purchased lesson plan.
I am just scratching the surface of understanding Charlotte Mason and what her educational philosophies were all about. Given that she wrote six volumes on the subject, I don’t see myself becoming a Charlotte Mason teaching expert anytime soon. But I am very grateful for a few words from her personal reflections that popped out of the pages of this book. Those words reminded me of the heart of my homeschooling mission and have helped put me back on track with this mission.
Do you feel pressure to replicate the “school” experience at home? What elements of a traditional school have you kept, and which ones have you let go of? How does your homeschool mission influence your decisions about curriculum and daily routine? Join us this month at NextGen Homeschool as we discuss Ten Things to Let Go of This Year, and join the conversation! Find the series here.