Homeschooling: An Education For Imperfect Parents

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Sometimes, I hesitate to write about Charlotte Mason and how her philosophy of education has changed the way we homeschool because, as much as I love learning from her, I am only confident of this: that I execute her ideas ever so imperfectly.

When friends ask me about CM, I usually direct them to women, books, or websites which are much better versed in it and have years of experience to back up their counsel. I think I’d be a discredit to Charlotte Mason Education because, truth be told, I am still in the throes of an immense learning curve.

Sometimes we avoid doing something until we know we can do it perfectly, and in the meanwhile, instead of giving ourselves the time and grace to learn what is good and new, we miss out on the joy and education of the process itself. 

That’s what happened to me.

A Regrettable Choice 

For three years, I felt my heart being tugged in this direction, but between babies, moves, and general mayhem, I told myself I didn’t have the time to learn another style of homeschooling, so I didn’t look into it at all.

I deeply regret that choice.

Instead, I faltered along, not really enjoying homeschooling those years when I could have been on my way to loving it, even IF I had to learn little by little.

So, here I am, not where I’d like to be, but grateful for opportunity to improve upon what has been learned.

There Is Always Room To Improve 

Witnessing the effect even small changes (like introducing Morning Basket Time) have made to our days motivates me to uncover more about living education, and inspires me to continue making changes that benefit how we develop individually and as a family.

To teach, we must be teachable; to improve, we must recognize our imperfection. When we think we have all the answers, we stop learning.

I submit to you that homeschooling is just as much of an education for a mother as it is for a child, and the joy of discovery is the privilege of both the student and the teacher. 

Homeschooling is just as much of an education for a mother as it is for a child, and the joy of discovery is the privilege of both the student and the teacher.

There is no shame in learning alongside your child. A Living Education assumes neither of you will ever know all there is to know.
A Living Education assumes there is only One whose knowledge is complete.

I’ve also discovered that no two homeschoolers homeschool alike, even if they do share an interest in the same methodology. Every family has its own unique set of ages, challenges, and goals that factor into the equation (no pun intended), and ultimately, as the parent, you get to decided how to work the curriculum or method in a way that best suits your needs and vision.

The Wrong Way To Teach Poetry 

Let’s use poetry as an example.

Simply Charlotte Mason suggests studying one famous poet for an entire year, reading a new poem each week to familiarize yourself with their unique prose. Reading it and enjoying it, occasionally illustrating a poem, and memorizing a piece each term is sufficient.

We started out with Robert Louis Stevenson, but after memorizing 3 of his poems together, we stopped.
I think Charlotte Mason’s method for studying poetry is excellent and effective, and I wonder if I’m doing our children a disservice by going about it differently, but I can’t shake what I have seen to be true about things that are memorized in one’s youth either.
Have you ever seen a stroke victim, unable to speak a single coherent sentence, and yet sing a Psalm perfectly? I have. In an often lonely world, memorized portions of truth set to rhyme can still come to mind with comfort and conviction, even after one has gone astray or lost the ability to speak.
In a moment of despair, which phrase would offer the most hope?
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson 

Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken. ~ Martin Luther

I felt convicted about the poetry selections I was asking our children to memorize. They weren’t at all bad, but I knew I could be filling their minds with something better.

Now, we try to memorize one hymn and/or poem by one of the Puritans a week (Jehovah Tsidkenu by Robert Murray M’Cheyne took us nearly a month to learn!) instead.

This is not how you’re supposed to teach poetry. They are not getting to know one poet well at this point, and spiritual food often lacks literary genius.

Maybe I will regret not becoming better acquainted with the Classics one day. Maybe I should be lightening things up by throwing some more “fun” pieces of poetry into the mix.

These are doubts that often fill my mind in our perfectly imperfect homeschool.

Perfectly Imperfect

Knowing that you’re homeschooling imperfectly can do one of two things:

  • it can make you despair and give up;
  • or, it can increase your dependency on Christ and enable you to take comfort in this truth:

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31

Don’t let a seemingly impossible ideal keep you from taking small but necessary steps to get there.

God’s power is not limited to our shortcomings; He specializes in using ugly lumps of clay.

Wisdom doesn’t come from you.

Is this not the most comforting thing you’ve ever heard? The One who has it, gives liberally to all who ask.


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2 thoughts on “Homeschooling: An Education For Imperfect Parents”

  1. This was excellent! Thank you for taking the time to write these ideas down so poignantly. We have memorized many portions of scripture over our homeschooling years; and continue to do so. These lasting Truths are what are going to get us thru the difficult things in life.


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