I was talking to my best friend yesterday and she encouraged me to share some things that had been on my mind the past week or so. I'm not sure where to start. So I'll just write and edit later.
I've been trying to examine my homeschooling philosophy. Why am doing this and what's the best method to get what I what to do done. I've been reading and listen to different voices from both ends of the spectrum from Classical Education to Radical Unschooling and everything in between to find out where I fit in the pool of home educators. Then I was thinking about who am I doing this for. Am I doing it for me and my own need to feel successful. Since I am a stay at home mom and don't have a lot to hang my hat on, it would be nice to have raised super smart kids that could put Harvard professors to shame. Or to have them accomplish some great thing to which I could take partial credit. Or am I doing it to please others and what they think home education should look like. Well I have come to see that I should be doing this for my children and ultimately for God. Who are my kids? What is it that they need to know? How should I give them that information? These are all of the questions that have been going around in my head. Why should I look to the world to tell me what's important to know? I shouldn't look to the world to tell me anything else, so why this. I was reading in George Mantle's book this morning Beyond Humiliation, that the French have a proverb that goes "He is not truly free who drags his chains". I think that we sometimes feel that we have escaped the public school system because our children are not loitering it's hallways. But we still drag the chains of the system in letting them dictate to us what's important to know. Now please don't get me wrong, I want my children to know everything they can about everything. But being realistic, nobody knows everything about everything, or even a little about everything. The Bible tells us not to conform to this world. But we gladly take what they think is important for our children to know and we bend over backwards to make sure we get those things in our curriculum. In formulating my own philosophy the scripture came to mind in Ephesians 2:10 which says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works that He preordained for us to walk in. In applying this to my children, I can see that first of all they are His workmanship. What a scared trust I have. They are his workmanship. How softly I must tread as I care for them day by day as to not impose my will on what God is building in my child.
As I was walking this morning I remembered something that I heard over and over in the Le Leache League meetings that I attended. It was "watch the baby, not the clock". In other words, don't put your baby on a feeding schedule, but look for the cues and signs that your baby is hungry and feed them. I followed this principle and found that my children put themselves on their own schedule. After allowing them to regulate their own appetites, I noticed that they wanted to eat every two and a half to three hours. But it was something they had done, not me. As I was thinking about this I was wondering why that same principle couldn't continue into childhood. Why did it have to end and what was the magical age at which it did. When did I start looking at what they are supposed to be doing instead of what they are doing.
In holding to Charlotte Mason's first principle that children are born persons, I think that we sometimes treat children as second class citizens, incapable of communicating their needs. I think that we just haven't been paying attention. Our eyes have been fixed on the milestone checklist and the SOL's that we have forgotten why we are doing this in the first place. For me, it's to give my children an individualized, Christ centered education. How can I give my child an individualized education if I'm holding them up next to a standard that for one, the world uses to measure people by, and two, was created by people that have never met, nor will ever know my child and what God has planned for them. I understand why they must have certain standards and curriculum that are implemented in the public and private school systems. A child must know certain things at a certain time in order to excel to the next level of learning. And they don't have enough teachers to have children functioning at multiple levels of learning at the same time in the same classroom. Everyone must move together to avoid chaos. But why do I need that at home? I only have a few students and am capable of managing children at different stages of learning and development.
Getting back to the verse in Ephesians, God is working in my children. He created them and has preordained paths for them to walk in. It is my job to trust my children to show me the path that God has laid out for them. By that I do not mean that my children know whats best for them. I mean that I'm not going to try and fit my child into a standardized box that the world has created for them. I believe that God has given each of them different gifts, abilities, personalities and interest that I'm to be on the look out for and expound upon.
I think that it's important for my child to read and write and know how to do math. But I'm not looking to the world to tell me when they should do those things. They may be ahead or behind their public schooled counterparts, but they are their own standard. I can't force them to learn anything. Just as I can't force them to eat anything. Sure I can cram it down their throat and force them to swallow by either fear or love. But its up to their own body to digest the food. And I think we put more confidence in the body to do its job of digestion and assimilation than we do the mind. Just as the body digest food and takes the parts it needs to grow and expels the rest, so does the mind.
One last thought, Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. So that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. I think when we can let go of what the world is telling us is good for our kids, then we will find his will for them.
I apologize for the size of this post and what may be unorganized thought. You may not agree with all that was said and I'd love to hear your comments. I'll write a part two to talk about how I plan on "teaching" my kids and what I want my homeschool to look like.