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Many homeschool moms, as they learn more about Charlotte Mason’s methods, get a funny look on their faces and say something like, “That’s what I’ve been trying to do all along, because . . . well, it just makes sense. You mean, that has a name?”
It’s so rewarding to watch faces light up, burdens roll off shoulders, and joy blossom in schoolrooms as Charlotte’s methods are embraced! Here is one such story that spans two generations of homeschooling. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy Jill C.’s account of “My Heart’s Journey to Charlotte Mason.”
Three years ago, I had never even heard of Charlotte Mason. I didn’t know about her life-changing philosophies and her powerful words of wisdom. I was first introduced to homeschooling by a group at our church. I was 14 at the time and convinced my mom to homeschool me. We knew nothing about homeschooling so all of our information came from our church group. They only endorsed one curriculum so that is the curriculum we used. Gradually over a few years, my mom began to understand that there were other options and choices but was fearful to follow her heart. Being the oldest of eight, I graduated first and over the years, my mom finally began to leave the traditional path and follow the path she knew was for her. When I began homeschooling my own children, I chose the safe route. I would branch out a little now and then, but for the most part, I stuck to a particular curriculum. After homeschooling for a few years, I became frustrated and began, as my mom had, finding my own path and teaching from my heart. My older children were homeschooled with a mix of traditional methods and my own style. After my first three graduated, I was searching the internet one summer day, trying to find books that I liked to teach my upcoming fourth grader. This was the amazing day that I stumbled onto a website called Simply Charlotte Mason. I downloaded some of the free content and over the summer I read Charlotte’s entire six volume set. My life had changed forever. This was what my heart had always been searching for. My mom had instilled the same values in us that Charlotte spoke of and had approached homeschool much the way Charlotte teaches. Finally, there was a philosophy that was exactly like my own, a way of teaching that brought it all together and made it all make sense. This is what I had been searching for all of those years. I had finally come home.
So many times I had read biographies to my children because it was just so much more interesting than their textbooks: all the while feeling guilty for not using the same traditional approach as everyone else. How many times had we done oral math with my younger children because that just made sense? I had never even heard of the term narration in homeschool before Charlotte but my children had been doing narration for years. We had often skipped the tests in favor of essays or oral presentations; again, all the while feeling guilty that this was somehow unacceptable in mainstream teaching. Our lessons had been short and our afternoons focused on fun projects and music and art. I could never fully commit to this way of teaching but it was always there, in my heart, like a dream waiting to be realized.
But Charlotte knew better didn’t she? She understood what my own mother had felt in her heart long ago: how children thought, how they worked, and what learning truly looked like. I am so grateful to her for what she did for all of us.
My younger three children will have the benefit of being homeschooled using Charlotte’s philosophies all the way through. The last two years of our homeschool (no, our lives) have been completely different than before. We enjoy our days now guilt-free. Charlotte’s teaching encompasses everything that we do. There isn’t an area of our lives that it hasn’t touched. We started using lots of the resources available from Simply Charlotte Mason now. Laying Down the Rails has become a way of life for us and we refer to it in conversation all of the time. We look forward to our times spent cuddled up on the couch with a classic, not caring how many weeks we’ve been reading it. My children and I have embraced nature study. They love their copywork and we can’t get enough living books.
So many times, I’ve wished I could thank Charlotte Mason personally, but I think that she would have simply told me to go and help others; so that’s what I hope to do. I hope to share my journey with others in hopes that it reaches them and lights their path and enables them to follow their heart . . . just like Charlotte would have wanted.
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