It’s time to get back to school. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed your summer, but it’s back to the grind. Whether you enjoy getting back to school or not, there is usually a tiny piece of us that is sad to see summer go. We must remind ourselves that God’s mercies are new every morning…and every school year too. One reason we can trust this is that He has given our children the best teacher ever!
Evaluating the Potential of the Year Based on the Teacher
If your kids are in public school you might evaluate the potential for the year by who your child gets as a teacher. Even if you are a homeschooler, you may still have strong opinions about who teaches your child in co-op, Sunday School, or other activities they are involved with. We want our kids to go back to school with the best teacher ever. After all, teachers can set the tone for the whole class experience…unless you are following a different teaching philosophy.
What Charlotte Mason Says about Going Back to School with the Best Teacher Ever…
Is the Best Teacher Ever the Parent?
In traditional, and even most homeschool settings, we picture the teacher standing in front of the class teaching and leading. (And in a perfect world, the students are sitting still listening and taking in every word!) Instead of being the supreme teacher, the homeschool parent is actually to be a guide, spreading a feast of big and beautiful ideas. In order to be the best teacher ever, the parent must let go of the idea that they direct every single thing, and give the child some freedoms to choose and follow their hearts. This is done best when you can trust that you have first taught them well.
“Let children alone… the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions – a running fire of Do and Don’t ; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose.”Charlotte Mason
Is the Best Teacher Ever the Student?
Charlotte Mason says that students should set the tone for the classroom. She believed that students had to teach themselves, or they would not be interested in the learning and, therefore, not truly retain the information. If teachers lead too much, they are just imparting their own thoughts and not truly giving children the chance to grapple with big ideas and make them their own.
“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.”Charlotte Mason
Does this make the student the best teacher ever? Actually, the answer is still “no.”
Who Is the Best Teacher Ever?
You can look all around a school, homeschool or public, and still not see the best teacher ever. Why? Because He cannot be seen! The best teacher ever, is actually inside the heart of the student. It’s the Holy Spirit!
The Holy Spirit as Teacher
”We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and ‘spiritual’ life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life.”Charlotte Mason
If you are Christian, you most likely believe that the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. But what does it mean to tap into Him and let Him teach your children? Do you simply pray over curriculum and ask for help when the kids are getting on your nerves?
You Are Not In Charge
There is a Yiddish Proverb–”Man plans and God laughs.” It is a great idea to plan out your school year, or at least your school days. You need to pray first, then hold on to those plans loosely. Be prepared to address needs as they arise and minister to those who weren’t on your lesson plan. God will take care of the rest.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”Matthew 6:33 ESV
God Can Handle the Teaching
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”Colossians 1:15-18
If God is holding everything together, then He has our school as well. He created everything on earth, so He knows everything about it. He can lead your child to focus on the things that are important for them.
Does This Mean You Should Only Teach from Christian Curriculum?
It is a good idea to pray over your curriculum. There are lots of good choices, and some may not be Chrisitian. It’s how you discuss it and approach it that matters most. Listening to the Holy Spirit can lead us to the BEST choices.
How to Teach Various Subjects and Leave Room for the Holy Spirit
God is the big picture and all the parts of the curriculum feast fit within. We wouldn’t be studying it if God hadn’t created it! So it makes perfect sense that He has a wonderful way of teaching the amazing things He created.
Charlotte Mason encourages us to enjoy many living books. Living books are conversational, full of emotion, and draw you in with life-giving ideas. There are not only living books, however, but also living lessons. Living lessons are done in life-giving ways. When you teach in a living way, what you teach comes alive. Contrast to philosophies that rely heavily on memorization and drill. Leave room for big ideas and heart-felt conversations. Give them time for big ideas to sink in and for God to work on their hearts.
“Grammar, for example, may be taught in such a way as to invite and obtain the cooperation of the Divine Teacher, or in such a way as to exclude His illuminating presence from the schoolroom.”Charlotte Mason
Don’t drown the subject in too many words. Doing so drowns out the Holy Spirit.
“We are told that the Spirit is life; therefore, that which is dead, dry as dust, mere bare bones, can have no affinity with Him, can do no other than smother and deaden his vitalizing influences. A first condition of this VITALIZING teaching is that all the thought we offer to our children shall be living thought; no mere dry summaries of facts will do.”Charlotte Mason
The Specific Subjects…
Use living books to discover with the explorer and journey with the traveler. Look at maps of the places you read about in all your subjects. Do not merely memorize places, but experience what it might be like to be there. Travel when possible and let your mind roam when it is not. Find out what God is doing there currently and has done there historically. Pray for the people.
”Live in the lives of those strong personalities “that impress themselves upon their age and country” by enjoying living sources of history–historical fiction and really good biographies. Take field trips to historical sights.
Observe the harmony and personality of music, such as with Music in Our Homeschool. Don’t force children into the “drudgery of piano practice,” as Charlotte Mason said. Help them enjoy and appreciate music. Allowing children to practice an instrument for 5-10 minutes a day is not such a big task. If they are enjoying it, they will practice even longer without even thinking about it.
”Children must have THE BEST books…living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough.” If you need to save money, “Let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child’s intellectual life.”Charlotte Mason
According to educationworld.com, the presence of books in the home has a greater influence on a child’s level of education than does the parents income, nationality, or level of education.
Field trips open the mind and bring fun to learning. The Creation Museum is a wonderful field trip that mixes faith and science. You can also check out the Museum of the Bible for both science and history. If your kids love experiments, let them explore. Learn apologetics. Living science books are much more interesting than texts.
Math and science are beautiful and make sense because God is a God of order. He created everything to be “good.” To understand them is to further appreciate God and become more like Him. Study Christian mathematicians, such as Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal, who believed that the order in mathematics reflected an orderly God.
Making Room for the Holy Spirit in Our Lives, and In Our Homeschool, is Our Duty
Teaching with rich discussion, builds relationships. Relationships are what last. Not many worksheets create relationships.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”Phillippians 4:8
For a time here on earth, we are our children’s mom. In heaven, we will all be equals. Our kids are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Work together toward the same goal. God will make it happen.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.Proverbs 22:6
We shouldn’t compartmentalize God into certain subject areas. So many things in the world are pulling our kids away from God, the curriculum we allow into our homes shouldn’t. We can’t shut Him out when it comes to science and math, or any other subject. It is disrespectful to God to think that He isn’t big enough to handle anything. The Holy Spirit can handle it all.
“Let this be the mother’s key to the whole of the education of each boy and each girl…because He is infinite, the whole world is not too great a school for this indefatigable Teacher, and because He is infinite, He is able to give the whole of his infinite attention for the whole time to each one of his multitudinous pupils. We do not sufficiently rejoice in the wealth that the infinite nature of our God brings to each of us.”Charlotte Mason
*Every morning pray:
- Lord, show me what his most important today.
- Help me get out of the way.
- Please help (my child) learn what he/she needs today.
- Pray for each child to have a deeper hunger for God and His word, and that they will be filled with His Spirit.
*Incorporate some “still” time into your morning time for both you and your kids. Help them learn to listen to the Holy Spirit.
*Reevaluate frequently and see if you are still teaching in a living way.
If we aren’t teaching in a living way, we are teaching in a deadening way. If we are exhausted, then we are probably doing too much of the work, and not letting the Spirit do His work. Our job is to spread the feast and get out of the way. We give gentle instruction. Big ideas and room for discussion.
Having the Holy Spirit as the Best Teacher Ever is God’s Best Plan for You
Take a minute and picture your most perfect homeschool. Remember…that is not going to happen! It’s going to be even better.
What helps you listen to the Holy Spirit?
Shay Kemp says
I am the administrative assistant for Julie Ross, author of A Gentle Feast curriculum and the host of The Charlotte Mason Show podcast. Julie is interested in having you read this blog post as an audioblog for an upcoming podcast. If you are interested, please email me and I can send you some details! Blessings!
Thanks, Shay! I will be in touch!