Are there any homeschoolers out there who never wonder if they are doing the right thing and doing it in the best way? Parenting itself is an activity that keeps one wondering, “Am I doing this right?” Add on top of that making counter-cultural choices like homeschooling and one has a recipe for second-guessing and self-doubt. As Charlotte Mason educators we add a few more controversial choices to the list — for example, not using standard means of evaluation like tests and worksheets and putting off subjects like grammar.
I remember being questioned by a relative when my kids were little about our decision to homeschool. My response was to say, “Well, let’s wait 12 years and then reevaluate.” This is easy to say but hard to do, because we don’t want to just wait and see if our kids turn out okay. But the CM approach does demand a lot of patience of us. Immediate, tangible (and testable) results are not the goal. Because we shape character and don’t drill facts, it can be hard to see the end from the beginning (or even the middle or, let’s face it, near the end).
So how do you know if your CM education is working? There’s no definitive answer; I can’t promise you your kids will turn out okay. But here are some clues to look for that let you know you are on the right track:
- Your young children act out what they have learned or read without being prompted. My youngest loved that there were ditches by the roadside in her grandmother’s neighborhood. She immediately jumped in them and began shooting Germans. (It was rather awkward because my German brother-in-law was there.)
- They tell people about what they have learned. Bonus points if they weren’t asked and what they are saying is completely off topic.
- They are interested in things, whether they are school subjects or other things. Seems simple but I find it amazing how many kids are not interested in anything. Things involving screens don’t count unless they are creating their own product(s) (movies, games, etc.)
- They make connections on their own. They say things like “Oh, that is like what we read about so-and-so . . . ” Bonus points if it’s a connection you never would have made. Double bonus points if you thought they were crazy when they first said it but then they convince you there is a connection.
That’s my list. Can you think of others?