How Charlotte Mason Keeps Me Sane

February 15, 2007 @ 1:21 pm | Filed under: ,

When I look back at the last ten years of my life, it seems as if my family has been catapulted from one major life change or crisis to the next with hardly a lull. And yet, these tumultuous years have been good and happy and productive. I think almost by definition, the life of a young and growing family is bound to be full of surprises and chaos. Babies are delicious disruptions to order; and if you throw some medical issues, interstate moves, and job changes into the mix, you’ve got a roller-coaster ride, all right.

I get a lot of letters from mothers wanting to know how we manage to keep up our studies during all the chaos. My answer boils down to: tidal homeschooling and Charlotte Mason.

The lovely thing about a Charlotte Mason education is that you get a lot of bang for your buck. Simply put, it doesn’t take much time. Right now I’ve got three "school-aged" kids in the house, plus the special-needs three-year-old and the baby. The girls and I spend about three mornings a week on our Charlotte Mason-style lessons. This couch time, though often interrupted by diaper changes and toddler crankiness, is a gentle and truly delightful way to live and learn.

I am not the mother who sews gorgeous clothes, or paints rooms and furniture, or makes pancakes for breakfast on a weekday. If you know me in person, you quickly find out that my closets are always a disaster and my dinners are nothing to write home about. But by golly, I can cuddle up on the couch and read aloud with the best of ’em. I am the read-aloud queen. Give me a living book and a comfy cushion, and I’ll give you a well-educated child.

Around here, evenings are dicey. Come 5 p.m., I’m fighting the urge to sack out in front of Good Eats with the younguns. If only Rachael Ray would waltz in and whip up a 30-minute meal while the gang and I are learning about enzymes and lipids from Alton Brown, I’d be a happy camper. Dinnertime is not my forte, no sirree-bob. I’ll take the couch over the kitchen any day.

And that’s my answer to the "how do you do it" question. I pick out good books—and even there, most of the work has been done for me by my heroes at Ambleside Online—and I gather my brood, and we nestle in and read. Read them good books, let them tell everything back to you, and voila! It’s the simplest recipe for education I know, and truly, it’s a nourishing meal plan for mind and spirit. Now that’s good eats!

Related posts:
Reluctant narrators
Rose’s reading list
A CM term (Jane’s list)
CM on nourishing the mind
Big CM post

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8 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Avatar

    Amy says:

    Plus you don’t iron. 😉

    Maybe one of the brilliant 4Realers can come up with a sort of healthy, homeschooling mom frozen dinner substitute to get us all off the hook for the 5o’clock hour! 🙂

  2. Avatar

    J says:

    lol . . .

    With all the baking, I though Jane might have been your budding gourmet.

  3. Avatar

    Kathleen C. says:


  4. Avatar

    Melissa Wiley says:

    Ooh, Kathleen, good typo spotting; thank you!

  5. Avatar

    Karen E. says:

    Oh, you’ve described our lives perfectly, right down to Alton. 🙂 Now, how do I get you to add another job change and interstate move, so tht you end up in my neck of the woods?

  6. Avatar

    Karen E. says:

    Oops … “tht” would be “that.”

  7. Avatar

    Jane Ramsey says:

    “Give me a living book and a comfy cushion, and I’ll give you a well-educated child.”
    Lissa, I love this! That would be my homeschooling philosophy in a nutshell.

  8. Avatar

    ellie says:

    This is good stuff…