I look around, at other moms who homeschool, at their blogs, at some Facebook comments or posts, at some materials, curriculum, schedules, programs, and even many who follow Ambleside Online are at times so different in approach than us, that I conclude we must be doing something else, since I do not find much in common, other than not taking our children to a building every school day.
Yesterday this analogy came to my mind. Think of your family as a tree. Each of us bloom different flowers and fruit, but we are all a growing tree. If you follow Ambleside Online, they are your help to grow the branches, and trim (that will be the useless busy work) for healthy growth. Charlotte Mason’s principles must be at the root, otherwise, instead of a living tree, we run the risk of using Ambleside Online to add not fruit coming from within, but external details and accessories to a dead tree. No wonder it looks bad, it does not surprise us with the joy of a new flower, a new fruit, lustrous branches! We are trying to follow details and intricacies, and the tree gets very difficult to hold in place. We need to go to the root, start simple. It is important we nurture our own tree, our own family. We should not look at that beautiful apple tree with lots of apples, when we have a smaller tree of a different kind. We should not assume that, because our tree has many blossoms to pay attention to, that smaller tree over the fence is easier to take care of.
At Ambleside Online there are many details and particulars about care for the tree that is our children education, they tell you how to be the best gardener (one that does not shelter too much, or neglect too much, one always learning about her job, but one that first and foremost, delights in that role, and who is a tree herself, always in need of the same nourishment and care than her family).
So, please do not observe other trees that much, and do not try to grow it from the branches. Go to the root and start small. Sooner than later you will find yourself enjoying the intricacies of the process. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, no, but if the wheels of your wheelbarrow are not turning, put it away, and go back to your caring hands for a moment, until you get a good grasp, and are ready for more.
As for what I see around with other methods or ways of education, they seem to me plastic trees with glitter, and blinking garlands, or perfectly manicured bonsais in pots. Do I say that all who do not follow Charlotte Mason or Ambleside are mediocre or inferior? No. Many arrive at some education truths, and find out their way. But I know many who could save lots of time, money, and pain, if they could simply stop buying unnecessary and useless workbooks, boxed materials, abandon castrating lists and schedules, and woke up to the beauty, truth, and joy that each new day brings!
Stop looking, lamenting, comparing, over-thinking, and DO!
And, before she says her final goodbye, visit Cindy, and write her last words in your commonplace book, or your notebook, or in your heart.