After one of those proud parent moments a few days back, I was reflecting a few days ago about our start with homeschooling and with our first exposure to Charlotte Mason's approach. Our oldest daughter was in second grade in a private school. She was completely bored with the curriculum used there and would finish her homework as quickly as possible so that she could watch television. Knowing that we were going to homeschool the kids that following year, I got an early start. I used a book that has become a homeschooling treasure for me, Sally Clarkson's The Whole-Hearted Child. After questioning the validity of learning without the traditional textbooks, since they were all I knew, I decided to give it a try by reading to the kids from Laura Ingalls Wilder, a childhood favorite. I was sold on the approach when the kids would beg me to read more of the stories after school each day.
After homeschooling for several years now, I rarely see those same confirming moments from the kids. The “homeschooling honeymoon,” such as it was, is over, and the thrill of wearing pajamas while they learn has lost its excitement. To add to that, with no outside point of reference beyond what others tell you about their homeschool days, I find myself wondering, “Are we doing alright?” And as reassuring and supportive as other parents can be, I long for the kids to say something along the lines of, “Man, this is the best!” I know, I know…dream on.
So what was the proud moment? My husband and I were watching a television show in which there was a reference to a character as an “Uncle Tom.” Our oldest asked what an Uncle Tom was. Not having shared Harriett Beecher Stowe's work with them, I tried to explain it as best I could. My daughter's response was, “Oh, like that character Nancy in I Thought My Soul would Rise and Fly.” She was remembering a book that we read three years ago! I’ve not seen a textbook top that!
Lately, we've been reading The Chronicles of Narnia in the evenings. I'm amazed when I hear our two-year-old ask us at times if we remember Digory (from The Magician's Nephew) or point to the book and ask if we can read Prince Caspian. Thank you, Lord, for small, but precious gifts of confirmation as we move forward. May we not run this race in vain.