Books! Books! Books!
I had heard a description of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy during an online homeschool conference quite some time ago. And from that, I was convinced that it wasn’t for us (I know now that the brief description I heard wasn’t the best). Since then, I had more brief encounters with some of Charlotte’s ideas; and I maintained that it was a good option, but a little too old-fashioned and stuffy for us.
Emily Cook changed my life. I saw a talk she gave for the SEA Homeschoolers online conference and her emphasis on literature was everything my book-loving heart was after. I immediately bought her book (A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling). It arrived two days later (who doesn’t love Amazon Prime?). I finished reading it two days after that. Her modern touch was just what I needed to feel like Charlotte Mason could work for us. It was also reassuring to feel like it’s ok to have a relaxed environment. In fact, it’s even encouraged. It’s so much better to have a comfy, warm, nurturing environment for our homeschool.
At my core that was always what I wanted most. I mean, we chose to homeschool for that reason. To be different than the public school environment. So far, I haven’t had any real problems doing that. This young age is easier. It feels fine for us to spend the majority of our time playing, and dedicate a small amount of time to important concepts like learning to read. I have worried about how to continue this calming, comforting set-up as the kids get older, while still providing them with a superior education and the tools they need to succeed in whatever adult life they choose for themselves.
Emily showed me the light. Her book has so many amazing suggestions. It’s an amazing guideline to follow. But the best thing is that she doesn’t make you feel like you have to follow it. Many of the homeschool guide books I have read, or talks I have seen (and there have been a lot), have been very “my way or the highway.” I think most of you know that I don’t like being told what to do, haha. Emily has a way of convincing you that she is absolutely certain that she’s doing what is right for her family (an incredible feat I must say), and then in turn making you feel like you can do it too; but you don’t have to do it the exact same way.
Because of this, I have decided that I am capable of adapting the bits of Charlotte Mason I love (the literature, the nature, and others) to fit our family. I’m still changing and putting together ideas right now (I’ll give an update in the future), but now I feel confident that I don’t need a boxed curriculum. I CAN DO THIS! I can have exactly the environment we want, and do it all myself! I’m not naive, I know that it won’t always be smiles, and sometimes it will be hard. But we can do it. It’s an amazing feeling. Emily, I cannot thank you enough.
If you’re reading this, or you’ve read Emily’s book, and you feel like you want to follow Emily’s footsteps to a greater degree, she has put together what looks like an amazing curriculum guide for each grade over at Build Your Library.
And don’t worry, we’re still big fans of Timberdoodle. It was definitely the right purchase for our Kindergarten, and we’ll have more products from them in the future.