Monday, September 5, 2011

The Art of Gentle Homeschooling!

The Art of Gentle Homeschooling! -
A series of thoughts on Homeschooling

As I have been walking and holding our precious little baby over the last few weeks, trying to comfort him when he is in distress. I have been mulling over some of the reading I have snatching in between other bits and pieces.  I have even been reading some of these books as I feed (nurse) our little dumpling.

I have had quite a bit of time to ponder where we are in our lives and were we have come from in the education of our children. I think it is important to look at this every now and then and to reflect upon whether we still are accomplishing what we desire in the education of those children placed in our care by our loving Father.

There has  been much interest in the book A Little Way of Homeschooling, among  quite a few of my fellow blogging friends and I was blessed to be given a loan of it from my friend Sue.

It has been a very interesting read on the different ways that a number of Catholic Unschooling families live their lives. I was very grateful to read this book and it was interesting BUT the book that I am most interested in and learning much from is~
Homeschooling with Gentleness: A Catholic Discovers Unschooling,

This book along with some others ( I will list these in another post) I have been reading over the past few months have reinforced my own ideas on what it is that Homeschooling means for our family. These books once again are books that have as a basic premise a theme of gentleness in the living not only of our daily lives but in the education of our children and also ourselves.  They promote a gentleness in discipline (being the teaching and training of children rather than the punitive type) as well, using the model of Jesus and his disciples.
This truly was the reason we were attracted to Charlotte Mason originally as the value of children and their love of learning was ignited by this lifestyle.
It would be no surprise to those who know me that I am drawn to a more gentle, creative and child orientated lifestyle. This I think is also becoming more evident in the way we have gradually become more unschooling. However I really struggle with the term unschooling as for myself I think it generates the wrong message. Frankly I have always struggled with the term Homeschooling too, as from almost the first we have tried to live a 'lifestyle of learning' rather than reproduce 'school at home.' 

The fact that I am drawn to those methods (for a better word) of lifestyle learning : Charlotte Mason, Waldorf (without the  anthroposophical view point) and Montessori; and it would  now seem unschooling, I think indicates that this really is where our home learning lies.

Each of these methods although on the surface may seem quite different I think at the heart of the matter they are very much the same. They all have a priority of the children being in a loving and nurturing environment that fosters a creative and joy filled childhood, thus allowing the child to learn to the best of their ability. Each of these method also I believe encourages the use of the home and home life and experiences as the basis the learning process.

The prepared environment also seems to be a feature in both Waldorf and Montessori methods and while I love this in both and see the advantages I do have a problem in applying this to a home environment with many children and of mixed ages. The seasonal aspect of Waldorf once again is something that we have embraced in our family, although we had started this from another source before we even had heard of Waldorf. Thus showing the age old value of living our lives seasonally as well as liturgically.
This is something I think we lose in our modern society that is not based around an agrarian and church community of which much of our society was in ages past and thus building a community of like minded lives.

Our family has been on this journey for about 14 years officially and I think it is a measure of our ability to really look at the interests and loves of our children that we continue to research and follow up where we believe we are being directed.

Perhaps it is also a being comfortable with where we are and being secure in the way we continue to live this adventure with our children.
We have has our two oldest boys leave our home style learning and pursue their own goals.

The desire to live a lifestyle of  'gentle learning' with a strong desire to continue to show and experience a loving environment within our family circle is I believe a strength that we continue to foster.

So for now I would like to just say that a gentle life where we foster  a 'life style of learning'  is where I see our lives continuing to go and that as we continue to journey along this road with commitment, trust and love, that we are being guided by the God who loves us and cares for us.

I will be adding to this series on Home Education by taking a look at the various methods we use in our home and the comparisons  between them

Blessings to you and your homes,


Sandra Ann said...

Beautiful words and encouragement for me as we begin another year of learning together at home.

Look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this matter.

San x

Anonymous said...

Have you read "Educating the Whole Hearted Child?" by Clay and Sally Clarkson. I think you would really enjoy that book as well.

Leanne said...

We gradually gently arrived at this point earlier in the year.
It is with excitement that we start each day.
I also struggle with the word unschooling, because I see it differently that that.
Strewing has been our best friend over the last few months.
Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these books Gae. I'm still trying to figure out what we are going to do if/when we homeschool. This Saturday I'm head to my favorite Catholic bookstore and maybe they will have them there. We have to take the children to their first unsupervised visit with their birth mom so I figured the bookstore would be the best distraction for my nerves and it is close to where we are going. Glad I saw this post.


Suzie Andres said...

Gae, I'm so happy that Homeschooling with Gentleness has brought something beautiful to your family. To tell you the truth, from looking at your lovely blog, it's hard to imagine that any beautiful thing was missing in your home and family before you read it! But I thrill to be mentioned in the same breath as Charlotte Mason - she was a big inspiration for me too (especially through Susan Schaeffer McCauley's and Karen Andreola's books).

How wonderful that our Almighty God always has more good in store for us!

I thought you might like this quote, which goes well with your family's gentle charism:

"Gentleness is the favorite virtue of Jesus Christ." -St. John Bosco

with love,


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