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20. Are you Enslaved to a System?

How can you prevent your homeschool from feeling like you're stuck in a rut? What can you do if you feel like the joy has been sapped from your homeschool because all you're doing is checking off items from a checklist? What if your child is complaining and it's not working?

If you know the driving principles behind WHY you're doing what you're doing, you can get creative when it isn't working, and find a different way to get it done. After all, there's more than one way to skin a cat! If you don't know WHY you're doing it, you won't be confident about finding a different way -- you might even completely miss the basic principle altogether by slavishly sticking to a specific practice that isn't working.

That's the difference between a method and a system. A CM education is about joy in learning, self education, forming relationships, and doing your duty. Those are the "why's." Narration, engaging books, nature study are some of the methods -- but there can be some flexibility in how you apply those methods: if you don't follow a system of "one 4-minute oral narration within three minutes after every reading," that doesn't mean you aren't doing CM, or even that you aren't doing CM "the right way." It's important to understand the "why" behind the method so you can flex and tweak the system to make it work for you, but still be true to the underlying principles.

If you can wrap your mind around this concept and truly grasp it, you will experience freedom in your homeschool like you never have before.

We urge you to listen to Karen Glass (she's one of the original founding Advisory members of AO) as she explains the difference between a method and a system. It's about an hour long, but she also talks about some creative ways to make narration more fun, and how to adapt CM for teenagers. It won't be wasted time!

Listen to Karen Glass: Don't Let Your Methods Grow Up to Be Systems

Karen Glass has also written about this idea on her blog at

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