Friday, April 23, 2010

Confessions of a CM Mom

I think sometimes as women, we can run amuck with assumptions, so I thought some Confessions from me might encourage a CMer or two out there. If I hadn't given California CMers a bad name already, it's surely in the bag now :) Feel free to gasp as necessary.

Nonchaloir, by John Singer Sargent

Disclaimer - this in no way is intended as advice!
Another Disclaimer - in no way am I suggesting that I am wholly satisfied here. Our school, my teaching, etc. - all are works in progress.

1. I DO NOT pre-read the reading for our lessons. Yes, I selfishly choose to spend my free time blogging, reading, listening to downloads, and doing other things instead of pre-reading our lessons. I suppose I justify it to myself thinking that my kids are young enough that I am still reading everything to them, so if they stumble, I'm there to handle it right then and there instead of spending the time ahead to prevent them from stumbling in the first place. But I know a time is coming when this will no longer fly. I'm just happy that isn't now. The good news is that for my second and third children, so long as Ambleside doesn't change their curriculum, I will have pre-read everything! (For the record, my oldest is a YR2)

2. Since I don't pre-read, I am also not writing out new words they will encounter in the reading and defining them for my kids prior to reading to them. I do, however, stop and define a word while reading if asked or if I know it's a word that they don't know that is crucial to understanding the reading. I DO, however, still have the gall to require narration of course.

3. I DO NOT know everything about CM's methods (does anyone?). In fact, I have unknowingly done many things wrong. I implement what I do know, as best as I can, and am continuing to learn, adjust and fine-tune as I go. In looking at the bright side - I do learn better once I have done a thing wrong, having fully experienced the 'wrongness' of the wrong way, I am then more able to appreciate the 'rightness' of the right way.

4. I DO NOT provide a quiet, peaceful, undisturbed environment for my children when we do school. In fact, disruptions are pretty common. My two-year old, currently going through on-going training distracts, my work-at-home hubby needs to discuss things, the other child needing help with math interrupts, the phone rings, an amazing orange bird I've never seen before that just flew by the window needs identifying, housework beckons, someone needs a drink of water or spills one, I need another cup of coffee, etc., etc. - and that is how it goes. And yet it goes!

5. I DO NOT train one habit at a time. I find myself intending to do so, and then... Pick up your clothes, line up your shoes, put your dishes in the sink, don't eat with your mouth open, say that in a nicer tone of voice, clean up that smudge, stop complaining and find a solution, don't use that towel, don't interrupt while I'm on the phone, etc., etc. How does one with good intentions and limited discipline herself, train it in her own? In progress...

6. I DO NOT 'get' Shakespeare... yet. There, I said it! My public school education never afforded me an appreciation for it. In fact, I remember it being a dreaded thing and my mind filed it away accordingly. I do enjoy the twists and turns of the stories, although my daughter and I are having to use cereal box cutouts just to keep track of all the characters. We just finished Cymbeline and it was truly entertaining, but I just don't get what makes Shakespeare so legendary... yet. We are reading the Lamb version and maybe that's why. I do hope the light comes on somewhere along the line and when it does, I'm sure you'll be the first to hear about it here :)

7. I DO NOT plan my school schedule by the clock. I go by a list of lessons for the day and check them off as we go. At the earliest, we start at 9:30, some days we don't get started until after noon. Because I know my spontaneous, rather unstructured nature, and because we have a 2 year old in tow, we keep things flexible. That's just how I roll. And I love the freedom of it.

8. My kids DO NOT love everything CMish. My son tells me (loud enough for my CM friends to hear) that he's just not interested in birds or wildflowers. SACRILEGE!

9. I DO NOT have wonderfully cheerful happy children anxiously waiting to read the next chapter at school every day. They do say things like "Are we done yet?" "Can we skip this?" "Can you stop reading there?" or groan as I pull out Parables from Nature (because the language is challenging even for me). And yes, I feel disappointed when that happens - especially when I start comparing or when things don't measure up to my high expectations. But then when I hear "I really liked that story" after reading her the Battle of Calais." or when she sees A Child's History of the World and tells her brother "come and listen, this book is really good, you'll like it." Or when we talk about Little Duke and she remembers on her own that he had given his Father his word not to seek revenge, or when I hear her recite her poem to her Daddy and go on to tell him all about the poet's family life without any prodding from me or I hear them humming hymns as they play or when they beg me after a chapter of their free read "NO! Don't stop there!! Just a little more!" or when my son asks to read me the Bible and wants to hold his new reader in the car with him... then I know 'it's working'. They complain, and yet it is unmistakeably becoming a part of them.

I thought to have ten in this list, but I'll stop here. There are plenty more shortcomings I've missed, a terrible memory for one, and I stay up far too late for my own good. In any case, there you have it - my CM homeschooling confessions!! What are yours? Please do post them in the comments for the benefit (I hope) of others.

What I do hope we'll all realize at the end of the homeschooling day is that we all fall short, in many more than 9 ways, and it is only by the grace and mercies of God that we will ever hope to be able to take this journey and succeed in any way. It is in Christ alone that we will find our way. I hope you will.


  1. Gorgeous post Naomi. Thank you. I confess that I do not think I will be a CM purist. Heresy! :) No, I THINK I plan to be about 95% CM (following the Ambleside schedule), but with my knowledge of so many other early education theories, I just cannot eliminate a little hodge podge of my favorites into our homeschool rhythm. Oh, and I do allow- what I try to make, balanced time, with media! EEEKS. I began a new post on one of my blogs called CONFESSION. This post has made me want to transfer that same idea over to waters & woods too! I love it.

  2. Amen! I am betting there are plenty more of us in the same boat, rowing right along our merry way NOT knowing everything CM there is to know or doing it to a "T"!!!
    ...but we are merry nonetheless on our homeschooling boat!

    You are my favorite person today!!!! hehe!!!

  3. I love this post! I have been lurking here for awhile now, and had to comment and thank you for your confessions. I think mine would be right along the same line as yours!

  4. Jen - thank you! Yes, I'm thinking a good title for a future post would be "A formidable list of attainments for a middle aged homeschooling mom". I'm so glad you're on this journey with us and love seeing your posts over at Waters & Woods! Can I add a link to it from here?

    Melissa and Amy - I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Thanks for your comments and for stopping by :)

  5. GREAT post! I thoroughly enjoyed and appreicated your honesty!!!! And it is soooo nice to know other children don't skip happily to the school table each morning begging for another story... or that even don't like wildflowers GASP!!!! Hahaha! Thanks!!


  6. yeah so my boys favorite books are roald dahl and the redwall series... they complained and ran around like wild men at the art exhibition we went to today... when I suggested they were too big for the playground equipment and that they should study the AMAZING tree growing in the middle of the restaurant they exclaimed that they hated nature study... and all my kids have some serious bad habits...

    well, there you are! works in progress, for SURE! :)

    funny thing is, once into it, they LOVE pretty much everything about school. they have loved every book (even parables of nature... some of them anyway :) and they thoroughly love nature walks and artist studies and everything else. They are just boys. wouldn't it be rather strange if they always raved about how much they liked school and only read books all day long and stared quietly at art for hours and... know what I mean? :)

    amy in peru

  7. Wow-thank you!! This was so refreshing. I found your site, recommended by Johnna of Sweet little Magpie. I'm a beginning CM mom and use ambleside, too. I look forward to learning more from you. :o)

  8. THANK YOU! As a new girl to CM, I have been running a muck with assumption like a true proffessional. I have been dragging myself down because we cant do it 'the right way'.
    Now, what I am trying to embrace doing it 'our way'.


    Keep confessing...it's making us feel good :P

  9. Thank you for your Shakespearian confession! I find myself so confused with the names of the characters so we come up with nicknames (I still get confused but not so tongue tied) such as Lysander would be Sandy or something. BUT the kids love it! They remember who is who!!

    As far as Parables from Nature goes....we shelved it ***GASP*** My 5 year old would actually cry when she saw it in our reading pile for the day!!! It wasn't worth it. We might give it another try at some point. Cute cover, though.

    Thank you for the encouragement I feel when I read your blog. God has given you a gift to pen the words that are on the hearts people like me.

    Be blessed today!

    Sometimes it's good to know you are not alone

  10. Thank you for your Shakespeareian confession. The names get me all tongue tied and confused. We now use nick names Lysander has become Sandy, for example. I feel as though I trudge through it but the kid's love it!

    Parables from Nature is a different story. We shelved it..yep, we did...we put it away...***YIKES***GASP*** My 5 year old would actually cry when she saw it in our reading pile for the day. Nothing is worth that...We'll just read more Shakespeare, well, maybe not...

    Thank you for your blog. What you have written really resonates with my thoughts and my heart of hearts.

    God has given you a talent! He is soo GOOD!