Homeschool Helps Homeschooling

When You Have To Compromise On Your Homeschooling Philosophy…

We’ve been homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool for many years. Everything about her philosophy was just “right”. I totally fell in love with her living books, her rigorous yet gentle approach to lessons. I believe totally in the ‘Science of Relations’, in her statement that ‘Children are persons’ and in her entire approach to educating both the mind and the soul of a child.

As we approached and entered our High School years and started thinking about what hoops we needed to jump through in order to achieve our aims, I found that compromises would have to be made in my beautiful Charlotte Mason homeschool – and I struggled.

*I struggled with having to work with materials that Charlotte Mason would not have endorsed. 

*I struggled with daily guilt because I felt that I was compromising on my children’s education 

*I struggled with a feeling of alienation because silently I was ‘listening’ to the messages sent out over the ether that if you didn’t follow CM’s philosophy to-a-T then you were not really CM at heart. Oh yes! There are purists out there that follow CM like a demi-god, something I don’t think Miss Mason would have approved of. 

I felt a complete failure.

I know that there are others out there that feel this way and I want to say that, ‘its okay!’

It’s taken me a while to get to a point of release. I’ve had to work through emotional feelings and separate lies from truth and to let go of things that held me tied down in bondage and rather to embrace the freedom that is always in Christ.

So here we go … Things I have learnt that have released me from my feelings of guilt and self-condemnation.

* Our home schools should have God at it’s centre.

 He called me to teach my children and learning about Him is what is key. He did not tell me that above all else I needed to be CM purest. He said, “Teach your children in the way that they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it”. He said, ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lied down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:5-7)

Our calling to teach our children at home was not to give them a perfect academic education. I work hard, seek God, and implement the very best education I can because we are do all things to the best of our abilities. But God’s heart is that our children KNOW Him.

As I have delved into the CM method over the years to learn more and more about her philosophy, the thought occurred to me more than once that there are those to take the study and implementation of her methods VERY seriously. I wonder what better people we would all be if we applied the same passion to learning God’s Word?

This realisation has helped me to let go of the guilt in not being a ‘purest’ and that is okay with me. If I should strive to be a purest then may it be a purest of being a Christ follower.

* Don’t Let The Tail Wag The Dog!

Curriculum is a tool. It is not the secret to successfully raising and educating a child. If a child can be taught to love learning and to work hard, then success is bound to come his/her way. It’s attitude that counts, not loading a child’s brain with all the ‘just right’ materials. Curriculum needs to remain in it’s rightful place and not be elevated to more than it deserves.

* Look At The Big Picture.

Our children are not going to remain our ‘little’ ones forever. They are gong to grow up. They are going to need to forge their own way in the world. They are going to need to make a living. They are going to comply by rules and regulations in order to achieve their dreams and goals in some instances. For example, to attend a University you have to meet certain requirements. More than likely they are going to have to produce some sort of certificate to prove that they have met the required entry requirements. Our job is to equip them in this area.

This is what I looked at when we felt we needed to switch from the way we were doing things to following a more structured and ‘textbooky’ program. I hated it! My girls quite enjoyed it! But we knew that we would need to meet an entry requirement at some point. Our youngest has always wanted to go to University. Our eldest not at all she recently started an apprenticeship and has realised that she wants more for her life. She’s coming back home to complete her A-levels so that she can go to uni in 2017.

* Compromise Can Work and Can Be A Good Thing!

Life is full of compromise isn’t it? We simply cannot go through life having it all on our own terms. We will be frightfully unhappy if we do. Compromise can be had too while still meeting the requirements of a program that is so NOT Charlotte Mason! We use A.C.E in our homeschool but I make it work for us. I have tweaked and adjusted it so that we still fit in some of our favourite CM things like poetry, composer study, art appreciation, read aloud, nature study and narration.

Over the next few weeks I will do a series of posts that show just how I implement these things with a program that is very structured and how you can still benefit from applying Miss Mason’s methods without being a ‘purist’. 

My hope is that you as a hard-working homeschooling mum will be able to let go of any guilt and self-condemnation that you might be feeling and instead feel free to homeschool your children in peace and joy.

Blessings in Christ,


(9) Comments

  1. JES says:

    Hi Shirley, Though I love the Charlotte Mason concepts, I have found that they can be applied in many ways to different curriculums and teaching styles which make it a fun challenge. Looks like you have done this as well! 🙂 Sometimes the cookie cutter route just doesn't work for certain seasons in our life and creativity can be a beautiful thing!

  2. Wilma says:

    Hi Shirley,
    We're in the same boat;-) Looking forward to your post on implementing. I'm trying here too and sometimes it work, sometimes we just have to go on to reach our set goals of exams and diplomas….

  3. Alyssa says:

    Oh my! You described my journey so accurately! I have 3 older children in college and but as they entered high school I had a very high risk pregnancy with lots of hospital time. My teens needed to meet certain requirements to qualify for a basic state scholarship that we desperately needed financially. So our schooling changed. Their strong literature base has served them well and they still love to learn. Then my 4th child has had learning disabilities and struggled even with CM learning. She struggles and dislikes narration. She struggles with reading so we could not keep up with our AO schedule at all. She desires to be independent and to be accountable to someone else so we have looked into live online classes for her that are classical and able to be adjusted to her level. All this to say that these transitions have been the hardest on ME! I had to let go of the subconscious dream to be a CM purist and spokesperson. It crushed me. But again, do I not want my life and schooling to follow the Holy Spirits's leading? Could He possibly have plans and a purpose for schooling outside CM? I think you nailed it when you said that CM schoolers are passionate and take this philosophy very seriously…too seriously–or maybe it some of our personality? But the Lord has ways to keep our eyes on Him, keep us seeking Him and His ways, and keep us living by faith instead of being able to check all those boxes and finding our security in Him instead of the way we do things. So glad to hear someone talking about this. Thank you! Betty (daughter's google account).

  4. Cathy says:

    You are balanced in your thinking, and it voices what I believe also. I use a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education on some matters, but I also consider, "to train my child in the way she should go". I especially love your comment, " God's heart is for our children to know Him". And I must maintain the truth and goal of teaching my children passion for Him and His Word.
    Blessings to you on this bright day. I am enjoying reading your posts.

  5. Blue Jeans And Teacups says:

    Very nice post. I am sharing with two moms who utilize some CM, and also interact with many other homeschool moms as it may be an extended blessing. 🙂

  6. Sandra Ann says:

    Really beautiful post Shirley, I look forward to reading subsequent posts on this matter.

    God Bless you and Happy Mother's Day

    San xx

  7. Erin D - The Usual Mayhem says:

    We've had to move away from a "pure CM" approach as my 15 year old reached high school, too. She kept the love of learning, art and music as well as living books, but a more technological approach has been necessary to reach some of her goals such as programming her own games. I think that a child taught with even the most rudimentary aspects of a CM education is still far ahead of the pack!
    Lovely post, Shirley.

  8. MamaT says:

    Thank you for this! We are finishing year 2 of homeschooling. We are investigating charlotte mason currently. We are with a group that is taking it really seriously and it's driving me nuts because I feel like if it's not with exactness I'm not doing it right. Her ideas are so awesome, but i want a more balanced approach. I feel like it's taking away from christ centered approach I want and every thread is what is charlotte masons approach? I want it to be directed from god. Not her. For example, i commented on a fb post regarding bible reading. I explained how I do things. And I was corrected by a purist saying well you aren't supposed to mix devotions with bible time. I honestly didn't know that, but I wondered why does it have to be exact. Can't i do it this way and still have a great education for my kids? I think I can. This same individual corrects me anytime I make any comments regarding charlotte masons approach. I guess I'm not qualified enough to say anything. And since I'm not doing it her way I'm not doing it right.

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Hi MamaT,

      Isn't it sad when a person takes mans (or woman's in this case) approach over Gods? Sadly I think that Charlotte Mason would not agree with people throwing out God's leading over her methods. I have belonged (not past tense) to such groups before and ended up having to weed such groups out of my life because they were exactly that – choking weeds! If God is leading you to mix devotions with bible time then do it – I can't imagine CM saying, 'oh, you're not supposed to do it that way you should do it the way I have advised'. Can you? Clearly there is an idol in this individual's life. I hope someone close to her or someone on the group corrects her in love.

      You do exactly what God tells you to do and ditch the guilt.

      Blessings to you and your family today.

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