‘too much with the children’ :: homeschool and a Charlotte Mason quote

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…

 

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13 comments

The post I wrote today is in line with this. Love it!

So excited I stumbled upon your site! I loved this post. This year (my first homeschooling in California) I’m struggling with our natural rhythms in order to fulfill charter public schools requirements. It’s driving me nutty. I’m learning patience and continued trust in God and my children.

Love this post! I struggle with the “comparing” thing. This summer I sat at a birthday party for a homeschool child and all the other moms were talking about their favorite curriculum and I was trying to think of a way to make hanging out at the park and reading lots of Laura Ingalls Wilder books could be made to sound like an official lesson plan. Yet the truth is, that’s what we do and my girl is thriving. Her reading and writing skills are growing in leaps and bounds and she knows more science than I do… because she reads so darn much. I have to remind myself that’s why we chose to homeschool – so that she can “march to the beat of her own drum.” Even when (especially when?) her drum is different from mine.

Thanks everyone, appreciate your thoughts!

Barb Spencer

This was so good, Danielle. Thanks so much for posting.

Jennifer

My children are the same way. Recently I started interceding more and found lots of opposition from them. I really needed this today. I need to believe that they know what they are doing. Mine are 9 and 12

Stacey

Oh ACK.

I’m struggling with this very thing right now. I had quit my PT job the other year so I could BE more at home with my kids. So why am I now feeling like we’re ‘too much together’??? *wail and sob* Seriously?

My oldest just graduated and is working and living at home. My second is graduating this year, and he’s now only interested in doing what he needs to, to finish up, and get out in the world. My third is at that stage of adolescence where he’s not sure of WHO he is, let alone what he wants to be studying. My youngest is the inquisitive one…but don’t you think you’re gonna be draggin’ him around, doing things he doesn’t want to do!

Some days I feel like I’m just sorta drifting in the wind, with all my grand plans of “doing CM” and making us “look like we homeschool FINALLY”. Thing is, they’re all happier when I toss a pile of books at them and tell them to READ. Or get out the cookbooks and MAKE something. Or their Scout books and DO something. Why can’t my heart recognize that’s worked for the last ten years, and it stills (mostly) works now.

OH! I remember. ‘Cause it’s a pain for ME at the end of the school year–you know, to make it LOOK good? *sigh* I’m gonna pin this post and re-read it a couple more times this weekend. God has a tendency to put things squarely under my nose when I need it, and I thank Him that you posted this! *HUGS*

danieatdomestic

Stacey, I get this – I really do! For my Type A personality, this has been a tough process to release and let go more. I’m sure it will continue to be a growth process for me.

The image of a ‘homeschool family’ does plague us, right? I’ll pray for you (and you can pray for me) that we adopt GOD’S view of what should be happening in our homes! Thank you for commenting, and grace in the journey….

Janee

I’ve really had to let go of my oldest a lot over the past few years. Its hard when they are entering the high school phase and you know how much they need to learn in so many areas to be ready for college or whatever God has in store for them. This year has been the biggest change. All of my plans went out the window and now I’m waiting for the Lord. I know things are supposed to be way different but not what we are supposed to do specifically. We are focusing more on real life (sewing, cooking, budgeting, etc.) but she needs some regular stuff too. Anyway, I look forward to reading about your journey.

Olivia Hamilton

This article was great! I have been on this same path and am slowly beginning to realize that the philosophy of Charlotte Mason can make not only our homeschool but our entire family life so much better, peaceful and enjoyable to all. Thanks for sharing your journey!

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