Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Journey to Homeschooling (and Charlotte Mason)

            As we gear up to start another year of homeschooling, I wanted to document my journey to homeschooling, and particularly, to the Charlotte Mason method.


            My husband was homeschooled and a number of my friends were as well, so I have been familiar with homeschooling for many years. However, my first real introduction to homeschool curriculums was four years ago when Sophie was just two. At that point, my husband I planned to go into missions, and since most missionaries have to homeschool, they offered an all-day class where we could see and learn about homeschooling and different curriculums and methods. I loved the idea of educating my kids, so I remember that day with fond memories. It was exciting to look through different curriculums! I was drawn to the Sonlight curriculum, as I loved that it was literature based.  Prior to that class, I was mostly familiar with Abeka and Bob Jones curriculums, which are very traditional and teach subjects in much the same way that a public school does. I knew I wanted something different than that for my kids, and Sonlight seemed to be a step in that direction with it’s strong literature foundation.


            When the doors were closed on missions, and our family settled into “normal” American life, I thought I would probably send my kids to public school. We lived in a good school district where some of my own friends were the teachers. Two summers ago, I toured the popular pre-school in town, and I signed Sophie up. That same summer, the Lord was working in my heart. He used something as silly as Instagram to reach my heart. I found several Instagram accounts of mothers who homeschooled, and I was fascinated by their methods. There’s this whole Wild and Free movement going on in the homeschool world right now, and these were the Instagram accounts I was finding. One of the names I kept seeing was Charlotte Mason, and I began researching to find out who she was and to understand her method. The majority of my friends did Classical Conversations, so I also looked into that.


            The Lord would have it that at that exact time, the same summer in which he was working on my heart through Instagram accounts of homeschooling Mamas, our family randomly sat beside another family at a fourth of July parade. This other family had three daughters, just as we did at that point. We started talking, and we quickly learned that we had a lot in common, and this other mom was planning to homeschool as well, and she too was looking into Classical Conversations and Charlotte Mason. From that point on, we researched together and bounced ideas off one another.  We read books and blogs and met with people in our town whom did both methods. And we both came to the same conclusion. Charlotte Mason was our homeschooling method. We both have four daughters now J


            I called up the pre-school and canceled Sophie’s registration, and from there we began our life as homeschoolers. Charlotte Mason originally won my heart because it is a method that uses living books rather than textbooks. Whereas textbooks are just snipits of facts and ideas scattered throughout, living books are cohesive works written by one author who is passionate about their subject. I have spent two years since originally learning about her studying her methods, and while I still have much to learn, I believe I am beginning to wrap my head around her methods.

            Charlotte Mason was an educator in the late 1800s in England. She believed the child was born a person; they are not blank slates with the potential to become persons; they already are a person. She believed in short lessons. We all have short attention spans, and so it is important that we do not do one thing for too long, or we will not give our best. The longest lesson that Sophie will have this year is twenty minutes. Her total school day will not last longer than two and half hours. As already stated, Mason believed in living books. Students should be taught from living books of the highest literary quality.


            There is so much more to Charlotte Mason, and I am fascinated with every new thing I learned. Her methods are completely cohesive and beautiful. They require a lot of a child, and yet, at the same time, they work with a child at the level he or she is at. My favorite part about the Charlotte Mason method is that it’s not just a curriculum. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of life that sees God as the creator and that desires for children to be taught, above all, to be good citizens. A student’s education is not just for himself. It is for the good of all mankind.


            Later this week, I will do a post on our specific plans for this school year. If you are interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason, here are my favorite resources:

1.     Charlotte Mason’s 6 volume series (these are books she actually wrote on her philosophy of education).
2.     A Delectable Education podcast. This podcast is gold!
3.     For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
4.     When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper

5.     Consider This by Karen Glass

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