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Thoughts on being scared to death of homeschooling, and thoughts on the thoroughly educated child

I’m entering my 17th year of homeschooling.

If you’ve read here for more than two minutes you know I favor the Charlotte Mason method, have an artsy/crafty bent, emphasize music and poetry, read a lot, and tend to be rather eclectic.

What you might not know is that I feel totally unqualified to do this job.

I’m not musical. I was an average student. I didn’t like to read. I’ve not mastered higher math or science, so how could I ever teach it!?

(I am artsy and that’s about it.)

swings

I’ve always known that I could not give my children the kind of education they need.

This has been the cause of a lot of fear in my life. I love my kids and didn’t want them to suffer because their mom was a bumbling idiot who thought she could do a better job than an actual teacher. I’ve always realized that if I messed this homeschool gig up, my kids would be the one to suffer in the long run. No pressure there.

I decided early on that the best course of action would be to attend a local homeschooling conference. For me, it was overwhelming and seemed to confirm what I already knew–“I’m not cut out for this.” Walking the aisles, eyes scanning the mounds of curriculum (too many choices!) I literally feel dizzy.  I was afraid that someone might try to strike up a conversation with me about what curriculum I’ve been using, and recognize me as the homeschooling fraud of a mom that I felt like.

I didn’t benefit from a homeschooling conference, but I did greatly benefit from an experienced lady at our local support group, Debbie. She listened and gave feedback. She encouraged me although she had a gazillion other things to do. She talked to me about all of the different ways people homeschool. She just gave me courage.

As I took each step, I also learned another truth: God had gone before me and was there to help me each step of the way. He was walking my homeschooling journey with me. He knew before the foundations of the earth that I’d be doing this job that I felt totally unqualified to do and that half the time I thought I’d lose my sanity performing. (You’re with your kids 24/7, ya’ll. That can be oh-so-good and bad.)

When I asked for guidance, He gave it. When I seemed lost, He helped me find my way through the advice of a friend or by information on the internet.

I learned that knowing my own limits as a teacher and understanding my personality mattered tremendously because I couldn’t be someone who I was not. And learning the personality of each child was crucial to understanding their learning style.

I devoured For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School and A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning and Educating the WholeHearted Child  and realized that I was drawn mostly to the Charlotte Mason method.

I connected with Charlotte Mason’s respectful ideas about children:

  • that they are not creatures to be molded/created but were already born a person;
  • that adults should not abuse power or use fear/manipulation to make a child learn; (all I can think about is Mr. Gradgrind in Dickens’ Hard Times!)
  • that the mind of a child thrives on quality knowledge.

I appreciated that she taught that children should be kept clean, taught good manners, never demeaned (this during Victorian England when children were to be seen and not heard).

In short, children are capable and deserve respect. You don’t teach them how to learn—they already have that capacity. You provide excellent resources.

I realized that I don’t have to be an expert on anything to read my children excellent books and to expose them to the lofty ideas and beautiful language of people more intelligent than I.

I try to lead a “beautiful life” (cultured) with my kids. Much of this comes by adding music, art, literature, and details to our surroundings during the day. For instance, I might add flowers or a candle to our school room. I display the artwork of one or two artists per month on my fridge to familiarize them with that artist’s style. We read the poetry of one or two famous poets per month.We bake and craft.  We take nature walks to enjoy the creation. We have tea and cookies in the late afternoon in the fall/winter. We enjoy local produce and do seasonal excursions. These are all things that anyone can do. I’m trying to raise kids who notice and appreciate little things because education is more than taking in information.

To be truly educated, you have to care about how you fit into the grand scheme of life. Knowledge has to change you for the better and move you to action. You have to appreciate beauty simply for the love of it. You have to be curious about the inner workings of that concept you don’t quite grasp.

A truly educated person cannot be indifferent to the suffering of others no matter how “insignificant” they are on the social scale. I don’t care how much my kids know book-wise if it doesn’t cause them to be better neighbors. 

I think as a society we’re satisfied with a shoddy definition of education. As moms, we have to make sure that we don’t confuse taking in information with being educated or advancing through school with understanding knowledge.

We need to see our kids as whole people–education being a small part of who they are.

They need to know that they were created for a relationship with God and that outside of that relationship, nothing else makes sense. Their minds need to be informed and infused with the mind of Christ.

As I enter another year, I am confronted yet again with my own lack: lack of expertise, energy, and knowledge. And I know that though homeschooling can be lonely, I am not alone; God has gone before me and will be with me (and you!) as we start this new year.

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Mini Unit Study

Okay, so everywhere I look, people are gearing up for Christmas–and right now,

 I am drawing my virtual line in the sand here

to stop the craziness and to just say no to Christmas until after Thanksgiving!! lol.

I am going to relax, breath and just be thankful.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time to teach your kids about all of God’s blessings. And we all have so much to be thankful for. Agreed? Alrighty, then.

Don’t miss out on this  great chance to teach some extra US History, too. We live about 20 minutes from Plymouth, MA, so our area is loaded with pilgrim history. I hope this post makes it a little easier for some of  you moms out there.

A Mini Unit Study for Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have

grown by His hand Who made all things out of nothing,

and gives being to all things that are; and as one small

candle may light a thousand, so the light enkindled here

has shone to many, yea, in a sense, to our whole nation;

let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.”

   —William Bradford. 1630

History:

Scholastic First Thanksgiving and Mayflower Virtual Tour

Image and Text of the The Mayflower Compact

Selected Portions of William Bradford’s Journal Of Plimoth Plantation 

George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation 

Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Read Aloud:

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Lousia May Alcott (short story)

Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret Pumphrey (free text via Baldwin Project!) – I have read selected portions of  this book to my kids each Thanksgiving for I don’t know how long!

Excellent selection of  Thanksgiving Poetry here (Thanks, Ambleside Online!)

Character Training :

“To be Thankful, You Must Be Thoughtful.”

Age specific ways to teach your kids thankfulness here

Hands On:

Martha, Martha, Martha. You did it again! Love these paper Pilgrim bonnets: easy instructions here

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

Thanksgiving Recipes from the Past

LOVED This beautifully simple art project: finger paints, glitter, leaves…what more could your kids want?  here

Photo Credit: Jones Design Co. (go visit…adore this site!)

And while your kiddos are crafting up a storm, you can make these adorable Thanksgiving Placecards, from, who else? Martha Stewart. :)  here. 

And if you are looking for a good read, try Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. You will be blessed!

ENJOY!