Charlotte Mason educators often refer to the importance of “mother’s education,” a phrase that typically encompasses a mother’s training in child-rearing, her study of child psychology and educational best practices, and for many moms, her personal spiritual growth through Bible studies and devotionals. It may also include a mother’s mastery of the material she is teaching her children — her process of discovering and filling the gaps in her own education. For example, if she never learned (or wasn’t much good at) Latin, but the curriculum she is using for her own children requires it, she will spend time improving her own understanding, either by working through lessons ahead of or alongside her children.
I would go one step further and say that parents (not just mothers) need to take time for their own intellectual pursuits beyond parenting and their children’s schooling. We need to set the example of life-long learning for our kids. As I work with my 5th through 8th graders on math, I have about a decade of formal schooling beyond the concepts I am teaching them. We are nowhere near anything that’s an intellectual strain for me. I also have a few years to tread water before my three-year-old is looking for help on calculus homework. At this stage professionally, both at school school and home school, my challenge is to keep finding more interesting ways to explain and illustrate the basic building blocks of math (everything from counting to Algebra 1).
I need to go beyond parenting and teaching to find projects that are really stimulating and challenging for me. Over the past year or so, I’ve been enjoying pursuing the study of economics, something that is completely new and very fascinating for me. I’ve been reading Locke, F.A. Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Peter Schiff, and historian Tom Woods, as well as re-reading Marx — the only “economist” I was ever required to read in school — with a newly critical eye. I’ve also been learning to play the piano since we were generously gifted one by my in-laws in December, and upon discovering a portable drafting machine in our basement, I’ve been exploring how it works and doing some reading and studying about isometric drawing, perspective, and so on.
Is it hard to find time to do these things while also working and raising kids? Absolutely, but for me, it’s been more than worthwhile to take that hour or so I have in the evening and spend it on pursuits that I actually find really enriching (other than, say, re-watching The Office on Netflix… again). Not only is it healthier for me, it is a better example to my kids and it makes me a better mom.
What does mother’s — or father’s! — education look like for you right now?