An Incredible Journey Begins
It’s 8:00pm. The kids have just gone to bed and my sweet husband is downstairs cleaning the kitchen. I tiptoe down the stairs, relishing the first calm and quiet of the day. I climb onto the barstool at the counter, take a deep breath, and throw out an idea I’ve been mulling over for a day or two.
“I have a crazy idea. You don’t have to say yes if you don’t want to … but you should want to.”
“Um, okay … what is it?”
“Well, I spend a lot of time teaching our children, right? Why don’t we spend some time teaching ourselves? We can use a mid-level curriculum from Ambleside, and set our own reading schedule. We can use the same Composer, Poet, Artist, and Geography lessons as I’m already using for the girls - and we can add in some higher level History and Literature. It’ll be fun!”
“Wait. What? Okay? Really?! You’ll do it with me?!”
And just like that, we committed to not only educating our children at home, but also doing some intentional work on educating ourselves.
Our entire educational philosophy centers around the idea that “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6) I’ve spent hours coming up with a curriculum and schedule that puts that philosophy into action for our children. An atmosphere of appreciating rich ideas. One in which we live a life slower than the one society tries to push on us. An atmosphere where we are learning from every little thing we do. An atmosphere that is God-focused and Christ-centered.
Discipline to do hard things. To try new things. To persevere in the midst of adversity. Grace to make mistakes, and then discipline to do the hard work of fixing those mistakes - or to do better the next time around. Discipline to form the habits we need to keep ourselves healthy - in mind, body, and soul.
A life that is continually growing, shifting, and learning something new. A life in which we are not afraid to be wrong - one where we intentionally engage in meaningful conversations and dialogue with others. A life where we are open to new ideas in a variety of subjects. A life in which we are not afraid to change our mind once we hear or read a story that enlightens us to a new point of view.
It came to me, one night as I was lying with my 4-year-old waiting for her to fall asleep … if that is the education we are striving to provide for our children - shouldn’t we be providing it for ourselves as well?
The truth is, I have always loved learning. You know how when you ask most kids what they love most about school, they answer “Recess or P.E.”? Well, those were my least favorite. My favorite part of school were the books. I always loved to learn something new. I loved to read books about faraway places. I was a true Rory Gilmore. I can remember a time when my aunt told me I would end up being a "professional student.” And in so many ways, that prediction has come true. I guess my excitement over learning is contagious - because somehow I convinced my husband to come along with me for the ride.
So I started doing some research and we decided to start with the booklist for Ambleside Year 6 (which for most homeschooling families is somewhere around 6th or 7th grade). We have chosen to focus on History, Biography and Literature in addition to supplementing the Bible, Poetry, Art, Composer, Nature Study, and Geography that we are already using with the girls. We’re one week in, and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we’re really loving the experience.
For history, we’re alternating between Augustus Caesar’s World and The Story of the Greeks. For Biography, we’re looking at Never Give In: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill. And for Literature we’re reading The Age of Fable as well as The Hobbit. In one week - and after narrating just a few chapters (side note: have you ever tried narrating a book? It’s HARD!) - I’ve already begun to learn more about the world than I remember learning in high school. I’m piecing things together in a way I never did as a younger me. I suspect that has more to do with my age and life experiences than it does with the curriculum itself - but what I am sure of is that we were never created to stop learning. I’m excited to see where this journey takes us over the coming weeks, months, and years.
How are you educating yourself these days?