In Home Education, Charlotte Mason contrasts methods of education with systems of education. Methods are the roads that lead to your destinations. Systems are procedures that yield results. What does this look like in education? I shall explain.
Methods begin with what you hope to accomplish. What you want at the end of your homeschool journey is a child who is educated enough to be a functional member of society and who is prepared for his or her occupational plans. Therefore, you should use what helps you accomplish this goal; and you should jettison what will not help you. Methods will vary from year to year, child to child, and circumstance to circumstance. Solidify in your mind what you want to accomplish in your child’s character and intellect. Then select the tools that accomplish this.
A system is a procedure: “If you do A, B, and C, your child will be able to do or be X, Y, and Z.” Now, there are some things like keyboarding or auto mechanics that require a system of learning. But one should not bind himself or herself to an educational system purchased in a box and expect it to work just as the advertisement says. The biggest reason it will not work is that no system is perfect. Curriculum A may have excellent math in elementary school but not in high school. Curriculum B may be great for the child wishing to pursue a doctoral degree but not for the one wishing to pursue a trade. Do not become a slave to a system.
It is true that a method of education takes more effort than a system. A method requires a parent to decide upon goals for each child, to look at available materials, and to tailor a plan to the child. But that is the beauty of homeschooling; you have the opportunity to individualize your child’s education. Please do not pass it up by trying to make your home school a system.