We're quickly pulling up to the season where we'll have many decisions to make as homeschooling moms: curriculum choices, co-op choices... it can be overwhelming, and, if you're like me, paralyzing. Sometimes it's just easier to not make decisions than to weigh and analyze all of the information you take in.
We worry about which curriculum to choose for the next school year. Will this one adequately prepare my child for the future? We stress about which books to read during which year. Will this title be too difficult this year, too simple for years to come? Will this co-op surround my child with people that will build her up?
We put a lot of weight on these big homeschool decisions.
When Charlotte Mason discussed authority, she said that the authority we project over our children should be based in right or wrong. Our authority isn't based on what we want, our whims. It should be based in morality because God has placed parents in authority over their children. To set arbitrary rules over little ones, and to make arbitrary decisions, is to exasperate them.
I think this applies to the decisions we make for our homeschools. Some things, even Charlotte Mason's recommendations, are arbitrary. Does it really matter if formal lessons start at five-and-a-half versus six? Do we have to read that book, the one that has obscure language and I'm dreading to read?
Last spring, I spent months researching books for Miss H's curriculum. I pored through Home Education, to see what Charlotte Mason suggested, pulled book titles that she had used in her school, and researched how much time to spend on each subject. Even though these things weren't rooted in right and wrong, I used another Charlotte Mason idea to guide me.
I thought of her "code of education from the Gospels," which she wrote about in the opening pages of Home Education: "Take heed that ye OFFEND not- DESPISE not- HINDER not- one of these little ones." She based this idea off of three verses in the book of Matthew. (Take a peek at the graphic below!)
How can we apply this educational code to our decision making?
- Choose interesting, lively lessons. Boring lessons are an offense to children.
- Take our parenting roles seriously. Don't undervalue habit and character training. If we do, we despise, or have a low opinion of, our children.
- Feed a child's relationship with God, instead of hindering it.
When we are faced with decisions, we can evaluate them by this Biblical code, and then decide whether or not they are worth a whole lot of mental and emotional energy.
I think of an analogy I heard several years ago. When you are struggling with making big decisions, imagine yourself in a wide meadow, full of fragrant flowers in hues of pink, yellow, and violet.
You could go left, right, forward and back and still have access to beauty. It wouldn't be wrong to go each way.
But in the distance, beyond a wild strawberry patch, there's a cliff. Going near the cliff would be foolish and dangerous. Stay away from the cliff.
The meadow is our freedom in Christ. We are free to choose, as long as we don't choose what is morally wrong, or ignore what God is clearly telling us. He can, and will, work with our decisions.
If we have freedom in Christ, then we surely have freedom within Charlotte Mason's philosophy.
Guidelines for Homeschool Decision Making
1. Think about whether or not this decision is arbitrary, then devote a proportionate amount of time making it.
2. Pray about it. Ask for the Holy Spirit's guidance.
2. Gather your information. Don't over-research and enter into "analysis paralysis!"
3. Consult people who are integral in your homeschooling, like your spouse, family members, or even your children. Be careful from whom you seek advice!
4. Think about the "offend not, despise not, and hinder not" code, then make your decision.
5. Stick with it. Something will always seem better. That is our human nature. Console yourself with the knowledge that your decision was prayerful, research, and rightly considered.