Homeschooling is a daily adventure that sometimes involves a lot of sit down work and sometimes none at all. Sometimes I compare my day to others and have a moment of panic and then I realize that our adventure is just that, our adventure and no one else’s. I look at all the things they do, all the experiences they have had, all the places we have gong over the last 4 years since we started homeschooling and I am amazed at all the things that they have accomplished. Have I done it perfectly?
Unschooling in our family involves a lot of trust. Trust that our son is learning all the time, trust that he’ll learn what he needs to learn when he’s ready and wanting to, trust that learning doesn’t need to be categorized into school-type lists in order to be useful. As an adult, I don’t get up and think I’m going to do something educational today! I think, “What do I want to do today?” It’s the same for our son. I know that we are all learning all the time. We live interesting lives and follow our passions and curiosities. That goes for the boy and his parents!
Charlotte Mason, a late 19th century educational philosopher and teacher, explained education as a discipline, an atmosphere, and a life. For Charlotte Mason, and those like me who follow her method, education is measured, not by how many facts a child memorizes over his school career, but by how much a child cares, and about how many different things he cares. Has the child’s education helped him or her flourish as a person? Miss Mason designed her approach to education to nurture and develop the child as a person, not just fill his mind with information.
Children are born persons. They deserve dignity and respect. Children are not empty vessels waiting to be filled by a teacher more knowledgeable than they. Instead, children are born with abilities, an imagination and a thirst for learning. We must educate the entire person, not just the mind. Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. These are the profound yet simple ideas which Charlotte Mason shared with the world in her 6 book series. She was an education reformer in England during the late 1800's.
Since our first lessons on ABC’s and 123’s eight years ago, I have tried bits of nearly every style: classical, traditional, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, online schooling, unit studies. I identify with parts of each of them and couldn’t ever settle with only one. So, I pull what I love from many different practices and create a unique style that works for us. (This is aptly referred to as eclectic homeschooling.)