We live in a performance-based society. This performance mentality doesn't wait until a child has neared adulthood to emerge. If that were true, then there'd be no need for n0-heckling rules at children's sporting events. There wouldn't be elementary school awards for making the honor roll or never missing a day of school. Even babies are subjected to milestone checklists, comparing them to peers!
Some of these things are helpful, but no matter your opinion on this, the chances are that this performance-based perspective has infiltrated many areas of our lives.
Yes, even homeschoolers' lives.
I can tell every time someone asks if their child will be behind, or if they are doing enough to teach their children. They are concerned that somehow their children won't measure up.
The fear is valid. But, if you choose to follow Charlotte Mason's philosophy, we can find peace in evaluating our homeschools, in the early years and beyond, according to her standards and our calling- not the world's standards.
Does Your Homeschool Measure Up?
Charlotte Mason's philosophy and related curricula have high expectations. But thankfully, these standards expect children and their parent/teachers to do the best they they can considering the gifts that God has given them, not to achieve the most.
She gave us three tools to use for our children's education; atmosphere, discipline, and life. These are the things that we do for our children's education, and if we are maintaining them all, then we can rest in the fact that our homeschool is going to be a success, even if it can't be measured by a test.
If you need to learn more about these three tools before reading on, please do! I have linked to some posts below, and I also have a free booklet available for email subscribers in the subscriber library called Charlotte Mason Preschool: Tools for Education. You can sign up for it in the box below.
We can evaluate how we are using these tools by asking ourselves some simple questions.
1. What does my family value?
The atmosphere in our homes should reflect what we value. If you value screen-free life, you most likely will not have a television in every room. If you value education, there's a good chance that you'll have many books (minimally-minded families might have an iPad loaded with good books!) Your values can also be apparent in a non-environmental way. Those who value gentleness will probably have a peaceful feeling in their home. Being a Christ-centered family will surely have a positive effect on the atmosphere.
Ask yourself what your family values, and figure out how your home atmosphere can better reflect that.
2. What is running smoothly in my home, and what can be done differently?
Education is the discipline of habits, and how your home functions will give you a clear picture of how habits are running. Are there areas that are truly difficult? Are there areas where you're family is thriving? Reflect on these.
Think about the area that you need to improve. What habits can you work on in this area? I wrote more about the process of changing your routines to support habit training here.
3. How can I present ideas in a lively way?
During the early years, our children have free time and are encouraged to pursue their interests. In what ways can you offer your children living ideas in areas that interest them? Are you getting your nature-lover outside plenty?
When formal lessons begin, the bulk of these ideas will be presented through books. Evaluate the books that you're using. Are they striking your child so that ideas take hold? Are there other experiences you and your child can enjoy together that would present living ideas to them?
Charlotte Mason Preschool: Tools for Education
There's a 10 page PDF waiting for you in the Subscriber Library that describes Charlotte Mason's tools of education, and how to use them in the early years. I've included explanations of each tool, and workspaces to work through the questions above. You'll also find a sample day so you can see the tools in action. Sign up below to get access to the subscriber library!