How We Homeschool

It happens like they say it will: you blink and she’s nearly 6. Long limbs, tangled hair, tiny bruises polka dotting her shins from rope-climbing, tree-jumping. I cut her pants into shorts for the onslaught of spring, smile at the realization that every pair boasts multiple holes at the knee.

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails, our Bee.

I am often asked questions about homeschooling – how we teach her, which curriculum we use, what our future plans are for both kids’ educations. I’ve written here about the why, and have recently begun to navigate somewhat of a structured how. Ours isn’t a one-size-fits-all curriculum, but still feels organized and robust. Plenty of wiggle room for creative pursuits, for our own family interests and adventures.

(Of note: this book has been endlessly helpful in outlining a wide variety of available methods that consider both a child’s learning style and the parents’ own goals/focuses  – highly recommend a flip-through if you’re considering a shift in your family’s educational path!).

For us, for now, Charlotte Mason is a clear fit. There are many aspects I love – living books (memoirs, biographies, etc) over text books, establishing character-building habits from the get-go, a general emphasis on outdoor exploration, foreign language, artistic pursuits. The formation of unique ideas rather than rote memorization of facts.

And yet, I’ll be honest: the more I learn about the method, the less worthy I feel to teach it.

book pages taped to wall

Last week, I seized a chilled hour for a short walk through the neighborhood woods. I queued up a few Charlotte Mason podcasts in hopes of gaining clarity, direction, guidance – something to solidify the methodology. Make it stick, pick up some pointers. Perhaps glean some encouragement that I could, indeed, hack it.

I loop around the park, listening intently to the concept of twaddle, the idea that childrens’ literature should avoid silliness or immaturity, that sentences and ideas should be well-constructed and wise, that kids are fully capable of complexity. I smile in full agreement, recalling a favored quote from Madeline L’Engle: “If the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

Reject twaddle? Check.

I weave through old maple trees, listening to a few more short episodes on the importance of play, rhythm, clear expectations. Check, check, check. A lifelong love of learning. Check. Plenty of time spent outdoors. Semi-check (come hither, spring).

I feel buoyed, mostly, certain that these concepts reflect my deepest goals for the kids. Certain I can do this, that this is the path intended for our family.

And then I walk home, walk through the door to find the kids dancing to The Trolls soundtrack, Justin Timberlake crooning as Branch, Ken flipping potatoes and sausage for dinner.

Do trolls count as twaddle? I think, as I kiss three cheeks, unlace my sneakers.

homeschool charlotte mason

Here’s where I’m landing, then. Like many good things in life (greasy diner menus, fringe bangs), we get a choice in the matter. It’s less about adopting a philosophy and more about adapting said philosophy, making it work, calling it yours.

In our home, here’s what we’re keeping (and losing) in our own Charlotte Mason plans for two littles under 6:

Rhythm > Routine

While I thrive in order and long to have a daily checklist of family chores completed by noon, it’s not currently my reality. Dishes are often left in the sink in favor of a neighborhood walk. Paper scraps are collected, saved for an upcycled project. Laundry piles higher on some weeks than others. We’re all imperfect humans living in close quarters with various levels of tolerance-for-mess, and I want to be mindful of that.

For us, this means throwing chore charts out the window. There’s no allowance, no reward system. It is, simply, a matter of respecting our home and the things in it, while also respecting our home and the people in it.

There are natural consequences, of course, to not completing any given request for homekeeping. If Bee’s favorite shirt isn’t in her hamper, it isn’t laundered in time for her playdate. If a special craft creation isn’t placed in the area designated for beloved artwork, it could easily end up in the recycling bin. If a certain chipper mother repeatedly asks for a tidied room and finds it untidied and ignored, she becomes decidedly un-chipper.

Still, the work gets done, inevitably. Even the most unpredictable, offbeat song offers its own version of rhythm.

Ours? Slow, quiet mornings at home with banana pancakes on the stove. Chinese lessons twice a week. Afternoon playdates, or “field trips” to the grocery, library, botanical gardens, post office. Ken teaching math at the countertop, along with a smattering of all else: why an amplifier works, the science of magnets, how to hammer a 2×4. In between, we find Bee reading on the living room floor, building obstacle courses in the sunroom, scrawling ‘Save the Tigers’ posters to hang throughout the neighborhood. There’s frog-hunting and Hamilton choreography and sock-folding, sometimes all in the same stretch of minutes.

It’s a lovely song indeed, offbeat and our own.

pinecone bird feeder

Nature Study

If you were to search nature study and Charlotte Mason, you’d likely stumble on a conglomeration of watercolor frogs, vintage botanical posters and immaculate outdoor journals. I love them all in their beauty and aspiration, and yet, for a 5-year-old girl and her indoor-inclined mother, nothing’s quite stuck yet.

Instead, we keep a few laminated field guides by our backdoor and we walk, walk, walk. We walk neighborhoods, woods, parks, gardens. We visit the nature preserve and I let the kids run around, discover things they want to slip into their pockets, take a picture of it instead. We collect fallen flower petals, learn their names. Bee gathers rocks for a collection, presses leaves into a composition book, secures it with masking tape and pens the source: maple, sycamore, oak.

In the car, she keeps a library book on birds and attempts to identify all manner of winged creatures (it rarely works; they’re far too fast, or perhaps we are). We keep a similar guide by the window with the bird feeder.

It’s piecemeal for now, no fancy bells and whistles. It’s just how I like it.

erin loechner

Habit Formation

I have found that, in the realm of habit formation, like most things, my greatest teachings fall short if not learned, practiced, near-perfected myself. The beauty, of course, is that modeled behaviors often stick: prayers before meals, holding open doors for others, the minding of Ps & Qs. The curse, of course, is that other modeled behaviors often stick, too: exasperated sighs, harsh words, procrastination. And then there are the habits perfectly modeled that simply don’t stick, for whatever reason (why I can not yet convince other members of my family to properly utilize a coat-and-key rack, I will never know).

It can be fairly hit or miss when you boil it all down, and so, my own method for habit formation is simple: to practice becoming the person I want my children to become. To learn what I’m teaching. Someone quick to forgive, kind to others, fair to many, who isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and serve, who also isn’t afraid to put herself straight into the nap zone for twenty minutes of soul replenishment.

The rest of my habit formation skills are likely the same as yours: striking the fine balance between reminders and nags, a fair-to-moderate amount of tongue-biting. Really deep breaths along the way.

bee and scout

Character Building

When it comes to character building, I’ve found that the greatest lessons often involve minimal interference on my part. My mantra, then: let them fail and let them figure out why. A healthy dose of listening, of nods, of letting them be. Trust, in a sense.

There is a fair amount of leadership here, to be sure. Of showing over telling, of stacking their bookshelves with strong, positive influences, of filling our dining room with the same. Of educating myself on ways to offer feedback without crushing souls; the fine art of freedom within boundaries.

The beauty, of course, is that character building is subject-less. Wisdom can be found in the story problems Ken invents for math (often including life lessons, or cautions borrowed from history). There are ample opportunities to practice patience and flexibility when a toddler brother crushes her homemade marble run. Grace abounds, every mistake and milk spill another chance to take responsibility, to make it right. To forgive again.

This book has changed a lot of the way I approach character building – valuing information over evaluation, facts over lectures, choice over compliance. I have noticed a shift not only in my kids, but also in myself and the atmosphere of our days. I suppose the result is a preference for honest relationships over perfected behaviors, for a strong foundation of communication in hopes that we can provide a soft place for our children to land. A wrestling ring for them to fall and flail while they work out what it means to be a person of integrity.

homeschool charlotte mason

Free Play

My approach to free play is likely not what Charlotte Mason intended in the 1800s, but it is straightforward at best: when playing, I do not interrupt my children (barring a safety issue). That’s mostly it. They have time and space to explore within a wide set of boundaries. If there’s a schedule to adhere to, I make it clear. If we don’t, I make that clear, too.

We’re ever-reliant on manipulatives – the best toys are rarely toys – and while it makes for a less ordered environment at times, I generally offer free reign on the use of household items. Brooms as props, spatulas as swords – yesterday, the sofa cushions became the very donkey who rode into Bethlehem some 2020 years ago.

Of course, we do rely on modern amenities, too – Spotify playlists, a science podcast – opting for an atmosphere of curiosity and imagination rather than theories and maxims.

Reading

I taught Bee to read over pistachios and BOB Books at the ripe age of three, her curiosity and love for words unable to be stifled. I don’t expect the same for Scout, nor any other child for that matter. My rule of thumb is simple: If a kid attempts to sound out the words on a t-shirt, or a street sign, or a bill on the kitchen counter, they’re ready for a few pointers.

Mostly, reading is a practice I long for my kids to love, and sometimes that means allowing them to take the reins on their own interests. Last year, Bee was gifted a set of chapter books that she delighted in, but that I found insufferable (no one ever accused me of being lukewarm about literature). The main character seemed selfish and unkind – to be fair, she was a child – and I was hesitant to allow Bee to meditate on a relative lack of virtue.

Still, Bee was reading, and reading voraciously at that, so I decided to let her explore the books on one condition: we would use the character’s decisions as a jumping off point for empathy-building. What might the girl have been feeling? What could she have done differently? What choice might have led to a better outcome?

I gave Bee a pen to cross out the insults because our family doesn’t name-call (many apologies for said defacement to my mother, the unofficial bibliosoph and written word preservationist). Bee edited accordingly, circling parts where a better decision was called for, chatting later about such over a clementine and pecans.

In a way, yes, it was an introduction to what Charlotte Mason would undoubtedly label as twaddle. And yet, it sparked an education far more than the subject matter itself. And in that regard, I welcomed the teachable moment with open arms.

Reading for us, otherwise, has meant frequent library visits and a running list of title recommendations from Ambleside. Beyond that? Bee’s got a pen and she knows how to wield it.

Of course, there are many things we’re shelving for later years, or for further exploration and experimentation. For me, the above is enough to encourage our kids to fall in love with education right where they are. If I can teach them how to learn, and not what to learn, I’ll have taught them much.

And you know, I think that includes a croony Branch every now and then.

 

p.s. Any other homeschoolers out there? Do say hello!

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  • Hi Erin! I’m a long-time reader commenting for the first time. Also a new-to-homeschooling mom who is firmly in the making-it-up-as-we-go-along phase. My son is four and I’m mainly just trying to create nurturing, engaging days for him based on his needs and interests. If he asks a question (which he does 200 times a day), that’s our curriculum. This week? “How was the Earth made, Mama?” And off we go. Thank you so much for describing your approach to homeschooling! It gave me lots of ideas and also a bit of courage to keep on “adapting”, as we’ve been doing.

    • Hey there!
      I’ve been homeschooling for almost 20 years now. My oldest is in college and I can honestly tell you that I am so glad I did it. It is hard and messy and there will be days you want to quit but it is also beautiful and holy and a gift. Stay the course! Let God direct you and then throw yourself into the midst of those children and enjoy every moment!

      • Thank you so so much for taking the time to encourage Leah (and us all!). What a gift you are here, Jody!!!!

    • Leah: Yes, yes, yes! This is very much how we approached learning at that age, and really, still do. No need for anything more formal quite yet! Your days sound so very lovely!!!

  • I love this so much! My daughter is young–closer to Scout’s age I think, so we are a bit of a ways off, but this is the main approach I’m considering. Everything you listed resonates so much with me, and is the root of the calling in my heart to pursue this form of education: the love of reading, the enjoyment of the outdoors, etc. I’m so grateful you shared this, for I am just starting to figure out how this could look for us, too. I’m glad you’re on this journey ahead of me, as I’ll love to follow along with your story! Thank you!

    • Oh Elizabeth, thank you so much for this note!!! We’ve tried a few different methods along the way, but this one has been such a great fit. Ambleside is a really great resource, as is the AtHome podcast (although many of their children are older): http://www.athomepodcast.com/

      I, too, have loved following those that are a few years further down the road, so feel free to get in touch as you encounter lovely surprises and unexpected detours!

  • Good morning! I have two children (ages 4 and 6) who my husband is currently homeschooling while I teach public high school during the day. Our experience with homeschooling is been so rich already, and I am so thrilled that we decided to pursue this avenue for our children’s education. I hope you continue to post about your journey, as we are about at the same point. Thank you!

  • Erin,
    Yes! We homeschooled! My girls are 24,21 and 17. They are the most wonderful human beings I know. Homeschooling was great for our family. My failings during my learning process were: Too many words from my mouth and not enough listening; thinking that my need for a clean and organized home “should” be their priority; using words like should too often!
    Actually, I could go on…but won’t. What I learned is that loving them, respecting them and encouraging them we’re the greatest tools for building a trust between us that fostered the greatest amount of learning and kindness. We are not perfect. Our system of homeschooling was not perfect. We made mistakes and still do but I find that I can turn things around a lot faster with a warm smile, an encouraging word( or a mindful silence—because now they are young adults and “they’ve got this!”)
    I have become a much better person, parent and learner because of homeschooling. I will graduate from learning when I graduate from life.
    By the way, I might enjoy Seuss and Silverstein and other comical poetry…it makes me smile. Is that considered twaddle? I hope not!

    • This is SO helpful, and so very much what I’m working on now. We’re given two ears and one mouth, and I’m trying to use them in such order. ;) What a gift your words are, Marilyn. (And for the record, Seuss and Silversteins are staples in our household, as well, and I refuse to consider them twaddle. At some point you’ve gotta tear up the rules a bit, ha!)

      Loved, too, your note about how you’ve become a better person, parent and learner because of homeschooling. I’ve sensed this in my own life as well. There’s no on/off switch to my days, so I’ve been far more diligent about filling my soul with wisdom and practical tools for staying encouraged for the long haul. It has been the mot wonderful shift to put such tools into practice, over and over again! I’ve never had more opportunities to ask forgiveness. ;)

  • Ha! That book idea is excellent! Junie B Jones should include a pen! (As a fellow mom of a 6 year-old daughter who loves reading, I can only assume that’s the series)

  • Oh, Erin! I love this so much! Our family will be entering the homeschool world after this school year. I’m terrified and ecstatic at the same time. I’m excited for the possibilities and overwhelmed with the responsibility. However, I know we’ve been inspired to do this and it will all come together. I’m not following a specific method. We will mostly be using The Good & the Beautiful curriculum. I suppose simplicity is my teaching style with creating stronger relationships within our family my ultimate goal. Maybe we can plan some activities together. Clara would love playing with Bee and Ava would love on Scout. Thanks for your insight.

    • I’ve heard such good things about The Good & The Beautiful! And yes to the stronger relationships within the family — that’s a big draw for us for sure! And yes to activities! Come on over!

  • I don’t have kids, but I was homeschooled from 4th grade through high school. I just want to point out that though, looking back, I realize there were drawbacks as well as (many) advantages, I wouldn’t trade having been homeschooled, and I have a HUGE appreciation for my parents, especially my mom. So I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I know homeschooling can be difficult and frustrating but eventually your children will recognize the hard work and love that went into it. Bless you all for your dedication and love for your children! Love this post.

    • Oh what wonderful encouragement, Sarah. I agree re: drawbacks and advantages, and I’m just hoping the latter outweighs the former! So far, it has, for all of us. So much love to you, Sarah!

  • Hi! I’ve been homeschooling my two kids for six years and lean towards Charlotte Mason’s teachings, although I tweak it to fit us. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made and has challenged me like no other occupation could. Sounds like you are doing the right things and setting up a most beautiful “atmosphere” for your children to grow and learn.

  • I thought this was wonderful… As your writing usually is. My mom home schooled my 3 siblings and I. With 6 kids ranging in age from 16 to 2 months.. I do not home school, I might lose my mind if I did. Ha! I thought these were also helpful things for the upcoming summer months. We are great lovers of books and I never thought to have them cross out things like that. I always just tried to replace the books with better. My 7 year old has a great live for a book series that main character rubs me wrong, glad to have a new idea for handling it.

    • Thank you so much, Tara – I love hearing from grown children with homeschooling experience! (And goodness, your mother sounds like a bit of a saint!!!) Also happy to pass on the book editing (defacing?) tip! ;)

  • you may want to look up ‘unschooling’. i enjoy reading about different teaching philosophies (waldorf, montessori) and applying what works for me/us. i have a 19 month old so i am just getting started. but i am from a large extended family that has homeschooled for 3 generations.

    • Oh yes, I’ve heard of unschooling! It’s a fascinating concept!!! And I’m much the same – I find so much value in learning how other methods work, and piecing together what might land for us. It’s a bit of a melting pot at this point, really! :)

  • We’re in our 7th year of homeschooling. 3 of my 6 kiddos are now school age, and we absolutely love this life! It’s challenging for sure, but absolutely worth it.

  • I homeschool our 6 & 4 year old. We’re in our second year and have absolutely loved it. I love the room for creativity (for me & for them), the space for play, the way it seems to preserve their childhood, the way it’s impacted our family culture, and most of all the freedom it provides. This year we left an entire day of our week open for exploring outside & doing nature study. It’s been fun to see how those little adventures have had a big impact on my girls (& on me!). I read Pocketful of Pinecones earlier this year and that was really helpful in seeing some of Charlotte Mason’s philosophies applied. Plus, it was a delightful story.

  • First of all, I can’t tell you how many times the Trolls soundtrack has turned the mood around in our home. It’s just the best.

    I don’t homeschool. My oldest is 4 and is starting preschool in the fall. I can’t even begin to describe the process I went through to decide if I should do homeschool or not. I probably spent over a year doing research and talking to fellow moms. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that this is what is right for our family at this moment. There are so many wonderful pros to homeschooling. I love reading about it because there are so many aspects that I want to make a part of our family culture even if I’m not homeschooling full time. Your posts always help me to take a deep breath and find my bearings as a mother. I love the idea of natural consequences. They seem to have such a greater impact than anything I come up with. (They’re also hard to deal with as a mom. If my kid makes a not great choice, I usually have to deal with the consequences as well even if it’s just having a very upset child.) I am not a mom who wants to deal with chore charts or complicated allowance structures. My mom never did those types of things we all feel pressured to do from Pinterest and I feel like I have a great work ethic and understanding of money. But sometimes it’s hard to not start feeling like you’re doing a good job as a mother when you don’t do those things. It’s not for lack of effort or energy. I have put so much thought into how I am raising my kids.

    • Ha, I hear you on the Trolls! Cheers me every time. :) And yes, natural consequences can be a huge bum to the mother, ha! Have you ever read Simplicity Parenting? It so very much aligns with the way I was raised and the way I’m raising my kids as well. There’s nary a Pinterest tutorial in sight! I think you’ll love it, especially if you’ve ever second-guessed that you’re not doing a good job b/c you’re not providing chore charts or allowance structures. It’s a lovely reminder that simplicity and less is often the best we can offer. :)

  • Hey there. I am too trying to wrap my mind around Charlotte’s Mason’s ideas and how they will work in our house. Oh, I read her writings and I am in love! Then, I return to my normal and I wonder HOW? I still love to check boxes too much but I find when I am able to embrace her ideas, I have more peace. So, cheers to this process! This encouraged me in my seeking and the adventure of it rather than on the failing feeling. Wahoo!

  • This is our first official year of homeschooling (even though we’ve been doing plenty of preschool stuff for years) and I’ve realized how I want to move to a more Charlotte Mason approach. I need flexible order but lack the ability to keep it orderly. Ambleside overwhelms me a bit because of that. So for first grade we’ll be doing the Peaceful pioneers from Jennifer Pepito. It’s very Charlotte Mason but outlined more. Excited to take things slower and really dig into good books for the coming year!

  • Hi Erin, thanks for a fabulous post. I am a loose Charlotte Mason homeschooler, 1 year in with my just-turned-6 firstborn. Our rhythms and days sound quite similar to yours. I started off homeschooling with a relaxed approach, knowing that I can always add more in years to come. So far, warm friendships with other homeschoolers, and the freedom to adventure and especially be outdoors often has been our favourite thing! Cheers to real life, and imperfection and pressing on in joy.

  • I was homeschooled and I’m “homeschooling” my 5 year old and almost 3 year old boys. I have become a convert to Charlotte Mason and, like you, am mostly setting out a rich “feast” of knowledge and preparing the environment for them to learn. I love that the first 6-7 years of life are set aside for them to learn morals, habits, and be free to pursue their interests. My son has learned SO MUCH this way. I’m excited to read more about your homeschooling journey.

  • Hello! We love Charlotte Mason too! My oldest is 6. We are in FW area, and are still new here. If you have any recommended places to visit, I’d love to hear!

    For Charlotte Mason podcast inspiration I adore the real -life approach of “At Home” and “The Mason Jar.” Others, related, that I allow in my ear buds, with a touch of salt ;)

    A Delectable Education
    At Home with Sally Clarkson

    • Thank you so much for the recs!!! (Love sweet Sally.) I’m assuming you’ve visited the Botanical Gardens, but if not, it’s our favorite spot!

  • Hi!!! Thank you so much for sharing !!! Such great encouragement and perspective. My oldest will be 5 this summer and while he’s spent the past year in a public Pre-K program, we are excited to transition to homeschooling. I so appreciate your perspective on adapting to a philosophy vs. a strict approach. Homeschooling appeals to our family because of the freedom it provides in teaching our children to love learning, which can come is so many forms!

    I’m a long time follower, but I recently learned that we live in the same town and have some mutual friends…one sent me this link and I’m forever grateful for the encouragement as we embark on this new journey!

  • Homeschool mama here !! Charlotte Mason is my fave! My kiddos are 5,4,2, and another on the way in July. I can resonate with all your insights here, I’m doing something very similar in our home. What a learning curve it’s been this first year…wowie!

    • Ah, so much love to you, Charissa!!! :) Thank you for saying hi, and yes – it’s such a learning curve, isn’t it? Keep up the worthy work! :)

  • Ahhhh I loved this piece of your writing so much! Can I just fly to you and sit down for a cup of coffee and we talk for hours about this subject?! Haha! I love, and agree so much on where you stand. I don’t homeschool and I don’t plan on doing it because it just doesn’t fit our family, but I do believe home is the first school. With an 18 month old I already see how much work I have on my plate. My mother was amazing at letting us be free within our invisible boundaries and I thank her everyday for the incredible work she put in, which of course, I didn’t see until I became a mother myself. This piece was exactly what I needed to read and I lol when I read the walking into the Trolls on TV moment. I read and read and read and find myself agitated when my child or my surroundings don’t turn out as the books say and then I start with reminding myself to be flexible, in all of it. I love the intention with which you educate and yes it requires a balance between guiding and just letting go. My mother explained it as if we were tied to a rubber band, where we explored the world and made mistakes and then she would just easily tug back and we would bounce back to her for comfort. She would whisper in our ear her teachings and once again off we would go, over and over. And sure enough that’s how it was. And yes! Very important! She never once criticized us, EVER. And I love that about my parent. We always knew where to land. Now I see how much responsibility and effort there is in raising a child. I am so glad I could find a nice place to reassure me I am doing just what needs to be done and give me some great insight and ideas too!

    • Oh Cathy, I so much love your account of your mother. What a gift she gave you of a home free of criticism (working on that one myself — eek!). And the rubber band picture is just beautiful. I’m so inspired by her example — thank you for sharing this with me! All my love to you and that sweet 18 month old. :)

  • Yes! Hello:) My eldest daughter of three girls was heading to kindergarten oodles of years ago when I learned the school district was transitioning to full days instead of half. I decided I’d homeschool for a year because my second daughter had arrived four years after the first and they needed more time to bond. Well, a third daughter arrived and we kept homeschooling. Now that eldest girl is a junior in college, studying physics and philosophy, and spending this entire year at Oxford for studies and travel. That four-years-later girl is completing her junior year of high school, and my baby is 15. It’s been wonderful and difficult and I’m so thankful for it all. You’re wise to say yes to nature and Charlotte Mason (love her though there’s no way I could ever do it all), and making it work for your family. Grace always. To yourself especially. Sometimes I wanted to be the sweet momma who has cookies ready after they’ve had a long day and want to complain about the teacher. But, they’ve learned to bake the cookies themselves. And I’ve learned to read books I choose instead of chaining myself to our education list. I taught high school English before having my daughters, and while they’re all readers and writers, their real interest seems to be with math and science. I’m thankful for excellent curriculum since those were not my strong suit! All the best to you. Happy learning and happy living.

    • Oh Amy, I’m grinning over here! What a beautiful shift in your home!!! Isn’t it funny how life creeps in? How you make decisions for one year anticipating them to be temporary changes, only to find out you’ve come into a beautiful, unexpected rhythm of your own? I just find your story to be so inspiring. Thank you for sharing with me, and congrats on what sounds like a wonderful job raising three hard-working, curious girls!!!

  • Erin,
    Thank you so much for sharing your homeschool rhythms and thoughts. My Luke (5) will start kindergarten next year at home and this was insightful and encouraging. I love how you talk about making a philosophy your own. I taught 1st grade before I started staying at home in a somewhat rigid school district. I am passionate about learning and although I enjoyed teaching so much, there was much I had to adhere to in which I didn’t necessarily agree with. And here I am in the homeschool world with the freedom to teach my babes in a way I think best and the way they learn best. It’s so wonderful! I pull things from different philosophies I like: Charlotte Mason, Classical, Traditional, all of it. Thank you for shining light on the fact that homeschooling doesn’t look the same for everyone and encouraging us to make a philosophy work for our family and our home. (And I love the At Home podcast…SO good!!)

    • thank you so much for the encouragement, vanessa — and i LOVE that you’re pulling methods from so many different philosophies, as well! isn’t that the beauty in it? such freedom abounds!!!!! cheering you on!!!

  • Hello beautiful Erin, I’ve known about you for such a long time but have never commented. I’m wondering, we’re deeply, deeply spiritual but not religious and are homeschooling preschool for our three year old. We’ve been doing a Waldorf inspired but it’s a little too “with the fairies” for my sensibilities. Do you feel Charlotte Mason is a good match for people who aren’t religious? Thank you so much!

    • hi kat – so lovely to meet you and thrilled to hear you’re giving homeschool preschool a go! i did a bit of research on your comment (i’m very much a religion person so i didn’t feel i could accurately answer!). i think this post might be helpful for you!:
      https://upabovetherowantree.com/secular-charlotte-mason-resource-roundup/

      my only thought here is that only charlotte mason can be charlotte mason, so the rest of us are simply adapting a broader philosophy to our family’s personal priorities. i think this can be done a wide variety of ways, and i think there’s ample freedom in that. cheering you on, kat! love that you’re exploring what we’ve found to be a really rewarding journey!

  • Just starting our CM journey…5 littles, 5 years and younger. I feel less than capable to execute all the habits and expectations of creating a home learning environment, but feel so strongly that this is the way. Thank you for your honesty and we’ll written words! Very encouraged this morning!😍

    • Oh thank you so much for sharing your path as well! I relate so much to the push and pull of unworthiness but conviction. :)

  • I adored your book and decide to poke around your website and can’t tell you how delighted i was to find out you are a homeschool ing mama too!!!
    I homeschool 5 kiddos ages 16 down to 6 months and thanks to a nursing baby, our style is very literature based, life based, and all encompass in love!