|Our house and carriage house when it was first built 125 years ago.
As recently as fourteen years ago when my last child was born, a passerby stopped and suggested to my husband that he might consider wielding a machete to chop down the weeds taking over our front porch (which had no railing). Soon after that, a sweet lady from across town stopped by the house and invited me to come and see her garden. She also described in detail what she envisioned I could do with our pathetic front lawn if I was willing to do the research and heavy lifting. I had never gardened before, but her enthusiasm and vision for what she believed I could do was inspiring. I was finally at a place in my life where I could consider what she was saying and get to work. Over the next few years, our family worked hard on making the front yard what you see in the picture over on the right. We so enjoy it now, even though it needs a little weeding and the house will be ready for some new paint soon. “Nancy, what does this have to do with anything?” Stay with me here…
Oftentimes I hear from readers that, while they like my blog, they know of others who just get overwhelmed by everything presented. Obviously, this is the last thing that I want a visitor to my blog to feel. I also hear this at conferences on the Charlotte Mason method – “information overload” is a common complaint. As an organizer of conferences myself, that type of comment can be distressing and I work hard to try and build in time for reflection and contemplation of the ideas presented – no easy task.
I didn’t wake up one morning when my firstborn was six and start implementing a flawless application of the Charlotte Mason philosophy in my homeschool. No, what I did was attend conferences and listen. Then I bought KONOS, Kathryn Stout materials and classical everything. I did attend a Carole Seid seminar at that first convention seventeen years ago. She mentioned using lots of books and reading this dead British spinster who wrote 6 tomes on education. Hmmmm.
I moved ahead with a unit study curriculum and then heard Susan Schaeffer Macaulay speak on education at a L’abri conference the following year. Then I read For The Children’s Sake. Little by little, I implemented more and more of Mason’s philosophy, which I found to be relentlessly true and alive. It wasn’t until I was into it for three or four years that I could say with confidence that I used the Charlotte Mason method.I’m still learning and tweaking what I do. It’s been a process, but there has been such reward and joy, as well as trials and errors, that I feel blessed to share about it all.
So, when you read this blog, you’re hearing about all my experiences and observations twenty-four years into the journey. When you attend a conference, any conference, you’re paying to listen to experts in the field. My advice? Start where you are. Keep expectations realistic. Implement a little at a time. At home, join or start a community committed to learning and growing. Support is crucial – one committed friend will do. Try thinking deeply about one principle at a time. After all, a young woman attending Mason’s House of Education took two full years to be trained properly in her methods.
Remember my messy yard at the beginning of this post? My friend could see the potential and the possibilities. I’m convinced that our schools can be transformed into places of beauty, too. For the newbie, you can start to read and apply – one thing at a time. For the experienced, consider coming alongside someone else and sharing some wisdom. Just like my yard, you will “weed it and reap”.