As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are You Lighting the Fire?

It is that time of year again.  The time of year that I panic because of all the things we haven't accomplished during our school year.  After twenty years of homeschooling, I still don't have it all together.  And this particular year has me even more in a dither because (~shudder~) Kati is graduating and (don't judge me)...I haven't taught her everything yet.  (Oh no!)

A couple of things keep me from full-blown panic. 

First of all my husband is my homeschool cheerleader!  "Don't look at what you haven't done.  Look at all that you have done," he encourages.  That is not the same as the glass-half-full kind of thinking.  It is a step-back-and-look-objectively kind of thinking.  And he is right.  When I do that, I really can see all the great things that have happened in the hearts and minds of my students (and, truth be told, in my own heart and mind as well).

Another is taking some time to organize my record-keeping.  I outline what each student has done in each subject area for their portfolios, fill out a simple form with an overview of materials and resources used, update book lists.  When I see it all in black and white, I'm usually impressed myself!

~ Panic subsides. ~  (For now.)

So how can I confidently graduate Kati, the same Kati who doesn't know everything yet?   I look for fire. 

A wise man* once said, "Education is not the filling of  a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

I cannot fill my children's pails.  I cannot pour into them everything that they need to know.  How can I hope to, when my own pail is not full?  There will always be gaps.  There will always be new things to discover, more to know, more to unravel.  

But is the fire lit?  Is there inquisitiveness?  Is there thirst to learn and to unravel and to explore?

Charlotte Mason said it this way:      
Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life.—We begin to see what we want. Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. ‘Thou hast set my feet in a large room,’ should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy.  

The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?
~ Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series, Volume 3
What an encouragement those words offered me as I read them recently, after a time of wishing that I had just a few more weeks, or months, or years, to fill Kati's pail.  I was encouraged because I realize that Kati does indeed care.  About many things.  I believe that her feet are in that large room of which Charlotte spoke.     

As I said in this post,
I know that she will [go on learning], because she has partaken of the feast of living ideas and beauty...and who cannot satisfy an appetite that has been whet for a feast?

Homeschool mom, don't worry about filling that pail, just continue to light the fire!  (And I'll come back to read my own words next year when the end-of-school-year panic threatens!) 

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* The wise man is thought by some to be poet William Butler Yeats, but the source of the quote cannot be confirmed.

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More thoughts on learning...
- Who is Teaching?
- Endings and Beginnings
- Moments With Living Books
- Morning Time


  1. Good evening Cheryl. Oh! how I wish every homeschool mom could read this, so encouraging.. I too have a tendency to be hard on my self about things, and up comes along my cheerleader (dh) like yours..
    I too am still learning, and it seems you have done a wonderful job in preparing your daughter for her new journey.Now breath a sigh of relief
    and enjoy the journey with her, you have certainly worked hard for this moment..

  2. I know what you are talking about. It's so easy to panic when the big day is at hand. Your words are so encouraging, and so true! I've graduated 2 now and it always gets me 'into a dither' right at the end. Actually, I'm in a bit of a dither right now and no one is graduating...

    Blessings, Debbie


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