Time for Reflection: A Time for Ideas

“Education is a life. That life needs ideas to keep it alive. Ideas come from a spiritual place, and God has created us so that we get ideas in the same way we pass them on to others: by expressing them in talk, or printed words, or the text of Scripture, or music.” Charlotte Mason, volume 6, page 109

Eighth grade is finished for the fourth time in our house. It is bittersweet.

All four times we taught this grade, usually American history, in different ways with different books and different styles. Nine years ago we taught with textbooks, seven years ago we did unit studies, last year we used The Well-Trained Mind suggestions since we had covered American history using Sonlight a few years earlier, and this year we used Ambleside Online’s year 9 with some modifications for my son’s interests. Can you guess which year I liked best?

That really is an unfair question because for each child the experience was tailored to meet their personality. For instance with my oldest child we used a textbook for eighth grade history but there were lots of things we did to supplement her learning. That was the year of learning American history through the lens of women in history. We based the year on making a quilt and learned all about the history of quilting in the early colonies, for women who were slaves, and then pioneer women. We read lots of biographies of women in American history like Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, and Amelia Earhart and discussed admirable qualities that each woman possessed. We read about colonial women, pioneer women, women of faith, and women in science and the arts. We baked, sewed, sang, and read about that period of time and both of us still remember that year with fond memories because it may have included reading a textbook but it was so much more than that because we got to know the time period and the people and what made them tick.

You get the idea. Even though I had never heard of Charlotte Mason when I was homeschooling eighth grade with my oldest two, I was still looking for living books, real stories, and trying to get to know the real people we were reading about in our text. It was really about hearing their ideas through our reading and activities.

” When a child is very young, it doesn’t seem to make any difference what philosophical idea we had when we educated them, whether we had the notion of filling a bucket, writing on a blank slate, molding a lump of clay, or nourishing a life. But as the child grows, we’ll come to find that the only things that are assimilated into who he becomes are the ideas that fed and nourished his mind.”
Charlotte Mason volume 6, page 108

Some days I want to call for a “do over” and start from the very beginning again homeschooling my children, not because I regret the methods I used but rather because I want to savor each year again. Reading the books, sharing the minute details of each day, watching the light bulb moments, watching them grow spiritually, and sharing the adventure all over.

It seems I blinked and arrived somehow at the present day where I realize my children have become four intelligent, thinking, creative, loving, God-fearing beings. They are people I love to be with.

There is still an unfamiliar path ahead of us but it is nice to be sitting here at this moment feeling like I have already accomplished more than I ever set out to accomplish in the homeschooling world….both within my family, in my community, and with others around the globe. As the saying goes, “It has been some ride.”

Four more years lie ahead to be filled with lots more learning alongside my boys. This is the spot in the road that we have been working for all these years. So many directions to explore and people both past and present to get to know in the days to come. I will try to remind myself that it is the ideas that matter, not the particular books or plans.

I can see the finish line of in the distance but somehow I don’t feel in a hurry to get there.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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