About 3 years ago I read Real Learning, by Elizabeth Foss. I had been searching for a "title" to my home schooling philosophy that was evolving out of being a "new" home schooler to a "more confident" one, and her book "hit the nail right on the head," so to speak! I read it as fast as I could and literally couldn't put it down until I had sucked every word off the page and savored it! Elizabeth spoke to my heart as a Catholic mom trying to fit a Charlotte Mason style of teaching into our circumstances (with "boxed" curriculum mind you) and it was like an epiphany! All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you to Mrs. Foss, as her ideals and explanations of how Charlotte Mason fit into her family were similar to mine! Not that my family would suddenly "morph" into hers and I would be teaching as "her," just that her concept/method/definition if you will, of us in a "real" sense was what I had been yearning for and for whatever reason (my own maturity perhaps) I finally got a green light to do just that!
So when people ask, "What program do you use?" I casually reply that we're a Catholic home schooling family and I design our curriculum based on the learning needs of each child and it looks different every year. At this point most people don't ask anymore questions unless they are genuinely interested in what we do. Maybe a new home school mom will want more information-but mostly they just want to see what we use and want to copy it. So here's my caveat--you can't--because Real Learning within our family will be vastly different than it will be for your family.
My experience here isn't new found knowledge in the fact that there are as many ways to home educate than there are to "skin a cat," it's just that to be able to take what you have in your own unique family situation and create the atmosphere for real learning to me is a real blessing! For us this becomes a reality within the framework of a Charlotte Mason philosophy. Charlotte Mason was a woman who could potentially carry alot of clout in our institutionalized schools today if she were given the opportunity, and what an advantage children in America would have if they were taught with her philosophies.
For us the "atmosphere of education" in a real learning sense means that I have to constantly be in tune to the needs, desires, wants, and drives of my dear children. What would they most benefit from right now in their learning experiences? But it also gives me the freedom to go with them on their learning journey, much like a travel guide, and not keep them "boxed" in, pardon the pun! We have permission to learn a thing to our hearts content and then move on, or to keep re-visiting a subject or a theme time and again, because they will be continually learning from that experience.
For us the educational atmosphere is a Real Learning one and by virtue of that we have our "discipline and our life." If you would like to experience Real Learning in your home school, please visit this site for more information. If you would like more information on the Charlotte Mason philosophy I can whole-heartedly recommend these sources as a place to start. I hope you will enjoy some real learning in your school soon!