Slow-Cooker Homeschool

From the time she was first able to hold a pencil my youngest child has being drawing. I used to always carry around small notebooks, mostly for my own use, whenever we went anywhere but inevitably I let her ‘draw’ in them when she was little to keep her occupied when we were waiting for her older siblings to finish swimming or music lessons or whatever. She filled up countless numbers of these or whatever else she found that had a blank space.
She went through phases of drawing figures that looked like something out of Ancient Egypt to focussing on legs, noses, eyes, lips, hair…it was quite weird looking through some of them. Apart from being surprised at the prolific quantity she produced, I didn’t really consider she had an artistic ‘gift.’



I noticed she had definite ideas about which artists she liked – Degas is one of her favourites and she has always liked to draw anything ballet related – but I made sure she also had exposure to a wide range of artists.

One day, just over a year ago, she was sitting at the kitchen bench with some music playing in the background,  drawing in her nature notebook. I noticed she was taking time, concentrating, and when she had finished and showed me what she had done I was stunned. She’d been getting more skilful with her art in recent times, but this was a step up.


I’ve discovered that this seems to generally be the way of things. Home education is essentially a slow movement, especially so if you follow the Charlotte Mason approach, where the focus is not on filling in the blanks or completing worksheets that have the appearance of learning. About a month ago I sowed nineteen little punnets with a variety of seeds. The cress seeds were the first to sprout and then gradually some of the others appeared. The other day some sprouts appeared in another punnet. I’m still waiting for some signs of action in the others but I can only water them and wait.


Charlotte Mason wrote in A Philosophy of Education (Pg. 39) that “Education, like faith, is the evidence of things not seen.”

We don’t see what is happening beneath the soil when we sow seeds just as we don’t see the internal process of a child’s educational growth. We sow the seeds, provide the appropriate atmosphere, and let patience have her perfect work.


“Our business is to give children the great ideas of life, of religion, history, science; but it is the ideas we must give…”


This is slow-cooker home education but slow is so anachronistic to our culture!
There is a very real temptation to meddle. We want quick results, instant feedback, affirmation.
The premise of a slow-cooker is that food is cooked over an extended period of time at a low temperature. As the cooking is in process, steam condenses on the inside of the lid forming a seal which helps to retain heat. Generally, you keep the lid on during the cooking process, but in my house there’s usually someone who is tempted to meddle & lift the lid to have a peek at what’s inside.
You’re not going to ruin a meal by lifting the lid but you may need to cook things for a bit longer if heat is lost.
If you meddled with seeds in a punnet to check out their progress you’d probably do some damage.
I think there’s enough evidence of children being ‘meddled with’ by being unduly pushed, labelled, scrutinized, or having excessive expectations placed upon them too early, to assume that it can be harmful.


Karen Andreola shares some wise advice in her book, ‘A Charlotte Mason Companion’ that is helpful for focussing on the things that matter when we’re struggling with the slow cooking aspect of education:
“Be sure that your children each day have:
*  Something or someone to love
*  Something (worthwhile) to do
*  Something to think about

My husband and I met and married while we were going to a church in a different part of the city. Our children were born while we were part of that community and we had long-term friendships, some of them going back twenty years and more. We re-located and moved to another church when our eldest was ready to start university and our youngest was only two years of age. Within a short time I was  frustrated that I hadn’t made any real friends and felt isolated. We met up with some friends who had gone through a similar experience a few years before we did and one of them said a wise thing that I took to heart:

“A twenty year relationship takes twenty years to develop. You won’t find it in six months” Simple and true and something I needed to remind myself of again and again.

Education, that …series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habitsdoesn’t happen overnight.

Years of listening to a shrieking violin and then all of a sudden it begins to sound like music. Good music!

Watching a child flounder from one end of the pool to another and then overnight, or so it seems, they are a pleasure to behold as they skim through the water in style.
Talking to your child about controlling his temper, yet again…and one day, many years later you see the fruit of self-control playing out in his life. Something you thought you would never see.Listening to ‘a’ ‘a…m,’ ‘am,’ interminably, or a child tripping over every second word while internally you fret that they will continue through life illiterate. None of mine are illiterate despite my earlier fears. 


This is where your educational philosophy really matters. It should help to focus our direction and assure us we’re on the right track or direct us back to where we should be. (For an example of applied philosophy see A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason. A brief summary of how the philosophy works is here.)

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform:
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.


Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.


His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour:
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.


Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own Interpreter,
  And He will make it plain.


8 thoughts on “Slow-Cooker Homeschool

  1. Grace analogy between slow cooking and education. I do not think that “slow” is dead or an anachronism. I think it is just being pushed a little by the fast and sometimes superficial. I think it will be with us for a long time.


  2. This was very encouraging Carol. I have the olders, some of whom have graduated from university and I can see the fruit, and one that is in the shrieking viola stage with lots of “a, an, ant…” stage. You would think I would keep this all in mind more readily! You referred to the hymn we’ve been singing all of October. It is such a good one. It all is really a call to faithfulness in the little things and living by faith that the Lord will use and multiply our efforts. It’s almost like planting a bulb without even knowing what type (not that I do that often in Florida) and waiting to see the Lord bring it to flower, knowing it is all really His work. November finds me a bit weary and needing refreshment and these reminders area just what I needed! Some day we will have that cup of coffee together! 💗Betty


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