Education is a Life

This post was submitted for the Charlotte Mason Carnival hosted by at Barefoot Voyage on the 5th April.

vol 6 pg 110

Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.

As always, Charlotte Mason’s writings inspire me. I thought of all the sources of ideas ~

Hymn Book

Image by JohnnyCashsAshes via Flickr

  • the Word of God
  • Written words
  • Great literature
  • Musical symphonies
  • Masterpieces and great Art
  • Inspiring Speeches

Just as I plan, purchase, prepare and offer nutritious meals for my family, so I must source and present such life-giving ideas for my children’s education.  And we are certainly living in times of abundance! For most of us, it is not hard to find the richest and finest inner-life food for our children, but the difficulty is often what to select and what to leave out!

This takes time.





And then courage to begin.

Probably he will reject nine-tenths of the ideas we offer, as he makes use of only a small proportion of his bodily food, rejecting the rest. He is an eclectic; he may choose this or that; our business is to supply him with due abundance and variety and his to take what he needs.

Fruit platter

Image by Raoul Pop via Flickr

Now, as I read her second paragraph, I am reminded that my child cannot, could not and never will be able to take everything in.  I must present life and ideas, skills and methods when my child is ready.  Just like potty-training, it is always easier to train and teach a child when they are physically, emotionally and spiritually ready.

In my 12-odd years of homeschooling, I KNOW that each child is different.  The same curriculum, books and projects produce different responses from each child.  I have changed, too.  In the beginning, I trusted the professional schedule.  I ticked off the boxes.  I stressed about falling behind.  But now, I linger where there is a sparkle of interest.  We take detours to places of discovery and exploration.  Take tangents.  We slow down, and then catch up again.

Isn’t Charlotte Mason’s advice great?  Give them variety.  Abundance. Allow them to be eclectic.  Let them chose.

How does my teaching approach allow for this?  Do I believe that my child will choose and become educated?

My passion as a teacher is motivation and enthusiasm!  I love children whose eyes sparkle and who laugh, who enjoy learning, who want more!  When my schooling days lose this, then I know we will all lose out.  Now, not all can be accomplished in this way.  We need balance.  Discipline.  Some work must be done whether we love it or not.  Again, it is about balance.

narration corner bookmark

Image by jimmiehomeschoolmom via Flickr

In my opinion, narrations make this enthusiasm possible.  When I ask my children to present their narrations, they always reveal what they understood, what facts and details they remembered.  And if they can chose how they want to present their narrations; whether orally, writing notebooking pages, dictating their thoughts, making models, creating projects, then they can express these ideas best.

Look at Miss. Mason’s clear warning ~

Urgency on our part annoys him. He resists forcible feeding and loathes predigested food.


Stop fretting.

Stop comparing.

Stop forcing.

Stop prompting,





stop worrying.

What suits him best is pabulum presented in the indirect literary form which Our Lord adopts in those wonderful parables whose quality is that they cannot be forgotten though, while every detail of the story is remembered, its application may pass and leave no trace.

We, too, must take this risk.

When I recently read this quote I was filled with gratitude.

Although Miss. Mason advocates lofty ideals and sets such high standards for a child’s education, she know there are …


I must present these wonderful ideas and gently help develop my children’s learning skills.

Then, encourage them to do their very best.

What then, is the risk?

Despite the best curriculums, the risk is that it may not be the “right fit”.  Can we adapt it?  Do we start again with something different?  Many, many moms have had this crisis.  But I believe Miss. Mason encourages us to think beyond the package, and check our expectation of how our children learn.  Education is filled with myriads and millions of ideas which we present and make available.  The risk is ~ the faith to believe they will be open, chose and learn and grow and have enough.

Do our children eat good food and live?  ~ Yes!

Will they learn and grow if we open up to them the wonders of great ideas and life?   ~ Absolutely YES!

Are you encouraged?

Be blessed,


10 thoughts on “Education is a Life

  1. Thank you for this reminder. How much worrying can one mom do? Sometimea I feel as though there is no end to the depths! Then when I step back, take a breath, and allow them their freedom – the greatest gift of this journey of learning at home – I can see and hear that they are learning with me, without me, in spite of me! And once again, there is peace.


  2. Yes, I am encouraged by your post, Nadene. I, too, was heartened by the paragraph comparing the assimilation and rejection of ideas with food. The CM method is definitely one based on faith.



  3. Awesome, love the encouragement. I have found that the Holy Spirit has placed so many wonderful ideas about homescooling in my own home. I could have never put together the cirriculum on my own, but stepping out in Faith has allowed some really neat things. I’m re-reading “Educating the Wholehearted Child” by Clay and Sally Clarkson. This book is what led me to Mss. Mason’s teachings and now I’m revisiting while I do reseach for next year’s schooling. Also naming our school and writing a mission statement for our school. Thanks to all the wonderful Homeschooling moms such as yourself the ideas and encouragement are overflowing.


  4. Your post is so full of encouragement and helpfulness. Thanks for the statement that some work has to be done. I need that. Sometimes I would wonder if I was the only CM mom that made my DC do book work. Not that we do oodles of it, but sometimes I will give them work and then I question myself and the CM method. Thanks so much for this post.


  5. Hi Nadene
    Always so inspired by CM, thanks for this. Not long ago I came upon your website quite by accident, and over the past weeks it has been a huge encouragement and inspiration. Always look forward to your new post.
    Thank you


  6. The rough ride for me as far as risk taking started with high school. This is a time where you are releasing some of the thinking on “hard” things to your children to see what they will return with.

    It isn’t all pretty and in a straight line either. I am struggling through some tough issues with the boys at the risk of exposing them to some rather unpleasant ideas. It is sort of like taking the training wheels off the two-wheeler. You have to trust that they can handle it at some point.

    I still moan and sigh but behind my closed door. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  7. I love how you said that we need to source and present life-giving ideas to out children. I think maybe I’ll take some time to listen to a symphony tomorrow (kids, too, of course.) And try to stop fretting!


  8. “Urgency on our part annoys him. He resists forcible feeding and loathes predigested food.”

    I have found this to be so true. Especially the urgency part. For me, urgency often translates to impatience. And that’s never good.


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