Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.
When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.
-Wendell Berry, 1979, no. X
I began homeschooling when my oldest child started kindergarten. I had a toddler at the time, and one on the way, but for those simple years it was just my little boy and I at the school table. Things got more complicated three years later, when a string of my adopted siblings began homeschooling with us, all of them older than my kids, all of them damaged learners, and several with learning disabilities as well.
Homeschooling all of these children, (up to 7 at one time,) was like a trial by fire, and because of their various issues, I realized quickly that the only way to homeschool them successfully was by thoroughly embracing Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methods. That meant everything, from language arts to science. It meant I couldn’t forgo those “extras” that are called electives in public school. They are not elective in a Mason education, but essential.
In retrospect I consider the whole experience a blessing. I’ve often commented that if I could have just given them a science text book, then I would have. No one in the CM community was saying anything against it, but my high schoolers failed every test while using one. I had to look again at what Mason said, and she said a LOT about science and the dry as dust textbook!
In the end, their education was everything it should be. I was able to see their eyes open, and what a joy it was! They learned to enjoy and care about many things that they hadn’t before: books in general, science, history, poetry, art. They began to think. They began to appreciate beauty. They thrived on the feast Mason advised me to lay before them.
All of the “big kids”, as I refer to them, have graduated now, and I am only homeschooling my own three these days, but I’ve learned so much that I must share it. I do that by way of this blog, speaking engagements, personal consultations and the podcast A Delectable Education.
May a Sabbath mood rest on your day,