Each year, I search for words or ideas that can guide our homeschool, something to think about, pray about, and enlighten my thinking when I'm running out of emotional steam. This year, I didn't have to think about it too much because an idea wouldn't let me be:
Education is organic.
Organic: Related to or derived from living matter. Or, as it pertains to food, produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
We've talked about this phrase on the Thinking Love podcast before. It derives from Pestalozzi, who had a strong influence on Charlotte Mason. Since then, other educational philosophies have adopted it as their motto, but for me, I see it as a perfect idea to guide a Charlotte Mason home.
Education is Organic
In the context of Charlotte Mason, "education is organic" means that children are born persons who want to learn and are capable of it. Learning can and does happen naturally, and doesn't need to be an artificially contrived event.
There can be outside forces that prevent us from being together and learning for the sheer joy of it. This year, I want our activities, our curriculum, our extra-curriculars, to be a natural part of our homeschool. No more struggling with enrichment programs that feel like another box on the to-do list or groups that have us straining for relationship. I've learned to let go here and there to make room for what is going to feed us spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
I'm letting the idea "education is organic" guide us in these areas:
We've spent too much time in activities that we wanted to work, when in reality, they actually were huge flops for us. Maybe it was the long drive, the timing, or the lack of connections with others. When I think that education is organic, it reminds me that what we do outside of our home should feel like a natural fit. This year, we switched homeschool enrichment programs from a Scholastic News laden school setting to one that replicates what we do at home, in a beautiful atmosphere with like-minded families. Preparing for a day out of the house no longer feels like losing a day of our week.
We aren't making any major changes to our curriculum this year, but remembering that education is organic has helped me to let go of the things that don't fit naturally, are too "extra," or that I feel like we should do. I want my children to enjoy what they're learning, and I want to enjoy teaching them. For us, this happens mostly through living books. When we read together, we learn and connect, and it requires very little preparation from me.
Time at home
Time spent at home might be the biggest contributor to my vision of organic education. By allowing this time at home, I encourage my children to learn and explore naturally. We so often believe that learning is teacher led, something that occurs when a teacher tells a child what to read, think, or do. It makes no sense that a child will develop a love of learning by having it forced on them.
A love of learning needs time; not necessarily time to develop, but time to learn. We too often lose our affinities if we don't have time to devote to them. I want to give my children time to explore something that interests them, time to read a book that I didn't assign, and time to meet new people that are treasure troves of wisdom.
We are a few weeks into the school year, and I can already tell that these changes are helping.