I was recently chatting with one of my oldest and dearest friends who also happens to home school. We were gabbing about homeschool, curricula and perks, when the question arose as to whether I thought there might be gaps in a Charlotte Mason education. My first response was, No, I didn’t think there were gaps. After a few seconds I added that if there were, I didn’t care, which I suppose sounds rather cavalier.
But I’ve given it plenty of thought since then and can easily understand how it might appear to be a rather fluffy education, for those who haven’t seen the whole picture, or even most of the picture , and it’s a huge picture. I’ve spent many, many hours reading, listening, pondering and praying over how to best implement CM in our home, and I still don’t have it completely figured out. In fact when I first started reading her Homeschoool series, I thought it sounded an awful lot like unschooling.
Wow. I was wrong. The method, applied the way Charlotte Mason intended, is anything but fluffy, and in fact, is extremely rigorous. There are books on the first year list (that’s roughly first grade) that I’m intimidated by. And I’m a genuine book worm, folks.
But yes, there will be gaps.
There are gaps in any education. It’s simply impossible to cover everything your child could ever possibly need to know. Public schools, private schools, boxed curriculum, online curriculum, unschooling and homeschooling will all have gaps. What those gaps are will vary depending on your philosophy of education, and your goals for your child. Is your intent to homeschool start to finish? Do you intend to return to public school at a later time? Are you concerned with your child being able to answer questions correctly, or ask his own questions and find answers? Are you more concerned with technology, life skills, the ever important SOCIALIZATION? Do you have a struggling student in a particular subect? There are too many variables to make a given curriculum fit every student without gaps. Indeed what may be a “gap” for one, may be another’s redemption.
Isn’t that why many of us homeschool to begin with?
As for my children, I recognize that when we fully implement CM this fall, they will not be learning the same things at the same times as their public school counterparts. Since I have no intention of sending them back to school any time soon I’m not worried about that. They will be learning to appreciate the Bible, history, literature, music, art, nature, and pursuing their own interests as well. If I feel they are missing an important point or skill I will try to find a new way to present it, heck, if I have to I just may print out a worksheet. There are no Charlotte Mason police to come and shut us down. They will each learn and practice Math and Reading at their own pace and level, until they are able to pass a college entrance exam. And then they’ll go to college and learn some more. Or they might not. I am genuinely unconcerned about it. I expect bumps in the road. I expect attitudes to flare, ground to be lost, regained, and I expect to occasionally feel a deep urge to flag down the school bus.
I’m ready to take it as it comes, gaps and all.