Education is a Life

Masterly Inactivity for the Homeschooling Mother, or, Why We Do Not School Year ‘Round, by Lynn S.

I must begin by saying that it is of utmost importance for each home-educating family to find their own personal groove. Not the groove of the Super Home Educators in the next town or the online family whom you envy, with their picture-perfect days!

I have found that taking regular breaks from our schooling is necessary for my own family. Today I shall talk to you about why that is important from my perspective, as the home-educating mother to two daughters.

For me, home educating is a tough gig. It requires me to be on form most days. Facilitating the education of my girls can be many things: marking Latin lessons, working through maths difficulties, reading aloud, discussing poetry, putting up with on-the-go science projects that lurk in my fridge / the bathroom / youngest child’s wardrobe.

On top of this workload, my responsibilities also include the day to day running of my home and caring for those who live there. This is no small task, and as an introvert whose perfect day would include a walk through the woods, followed by an afternoon reading, knitting, and watching old Hollywood movies whilst lying on the sofa eating bon bons, I find this life that I love quite exhausting at times.

Those who are familiar with the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education will most likely know the phrase ‘Masterly Inactivity’: the idea that the mother employs ‘a wise passiveness’ or ‘masterly inactivity’ in the raising of her children:

“We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young minds and hearts about us. Our endeavours become fussy and restless. We are too much with our children, ‘late and soon.’ We try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education”

Charlotte Mason’s series Home Education Vol. 3, p. 27

I have begun to discover that “wise and purposeful letting alone” is often the best part of my own education as a home-educating mother. The free time that I have during our school holidays gives me the opportunity to think and reflect on how our home learning is progressing. Changes that need to be made, books to be read, ideas to discuss; these can all be mulled over as I peacefully knit or prepare dinner in a slightly less rushed fashion.

I am not forcing these connections; I may or may not read a book about educational theory. I may or may not do some written planning. But this time gives my brain the chance it needs to catch up, so to speak, with all that has gone on in the last several weeks of our home learning. To process what my children have done, who they are, and what they need.

Holidays are a much needed piece of my life in this season. As I write, I am currently enjoying the October half-term holiday; its change of pace will allow me to enter the rest of the term more refreshed as we head toward Advent…possibly my most favourite part of our homeschool year but also one of the busiest seasons of the year.

Schooling year ’round works so well for many, many families, just as taking breaks works for others. The key is in deciding what will work best for your own.

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Lynn S is an English mother of two gorgeous girlies (who obviously take after their mother!) She discovered the ideas of Charlotte Mason when her now-twelve-year-old was just four months old, and hasn’t looked back since. She enjoys reading, knitting, spinning yarn, nature study, and water colour painting. She is also the author of Exploring Nature With Children: A complete, year-long curriculum.

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