Homeschooling is more than “schooling.” If it were simply about academics, we could easily replicate what goes on in the public or private schools. But for most of us, the reason we homeschool involves intangibles — conviction, philosophies that are hard to express, a want of “something better” than what is available elsewhere.
Homeschooling is also about “home.” We are not simply teachers, although we are certainly tutors and mentors; we are also parents — parents with the responsibility to train our children. The training of our children, in all areas of life, revolves around our lifestyle.
Several veteran homeschoolers seemed to have arrived at the same conclusion at about the same time: This is about more than “school.” This is about life! Their families are different, their interests are different, their bents are different, their academic emphasis is different, and their methods are different. One family has a more Charlotte Mason foundation; another classical. Several are big into unit studies; one has a Principle Approach background. All have made time and space to observe their children and help them follow their interests. All seem to have found themselves at a place where they can say, “Hey, this is what we do! It’s great fun! Our entire family is involved. The learning doesn’t end.” Learning has become their lifestyle!
“…[T]he name of the game these days seems not be be teaching, but covering material. And as a result, we see unmotivated students who, rather than be engrossed by the lesson and enjoy it, merely endure it…at best…. The effective teacher always teaches from the overflow of a full life.”
Dr. Howard Hendricks, Teaching to Change Lives
Homeschooling is such an abundant opportunity! How blessed we are to be able to spend time with our children, to enjoy them, to learn about them — and from them — and to encourage them in their life pursuits! We are blessed because we have an opportunity to provide a real education that fits each child versus a generic education that ends with a piece of paper that says, “finished.” We are blessed because we have an opportunity to train them in the way they should go, to help them find the particular work that they have been created to do. We are blessed because we have an opportunity to teach them that learning never ends!
How can you foster a lifetime learning mentality? How can you provide your children the direction they need to find their niche?
- Trust! “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” —Ephesians 2:10
- Teach your children “how” to learn so that they will be prepared for any path they choose.
- Let them pursue life with you. Let them follow “Mom” and “Dad” in your interests.
- Give them time to explore their interests. Some fascinations will come and go, but by the time they are ready to choose a direction, hopefully they will have some idea of the path they wish to take.
- Keep your eyes open! When you see your child expressing an interest in something — feed it! Not push it, of course, but provide books, kits, and materials that will encourage your child. If the interest wanes, no problem. Another is sure to surface.
- Don’t fill up on scheduled activities (sports, music, 4-H, and the like). While some of these activities have their place, unless it is your child’s current “passion,” give him the freedom to find his own interests.
- For older students, just ask! They may surprise you with interests you didn’t know they had.
This is not another method with a detailed scope and sequence, a set of recommended curricula, or a how-to manual! Here are more great tips to add to your toolbox:
How many times have we changed curriculum, adjusted schedules, added one more activity or switched support groups — and continually fallen short of the results we desired? When we finally decide to give up our own failed plans and become a tool in the Master’s hand we cannot help but to succeed. After all, no one knows what an individual child needs more than his Maker.
Homeschooling works best when it is simply another part of a rich and creative life. Yes, we do (and should) plan, schedule, find the best materials, and the rest. But leave that room to breathe, to take advantage of the serendipitous, and to capture an interest when it is at its peak.
So many times the push of the curriculum and the pull of the schedules leave the child behind. Each child is unique! We have an opportunity to mentor them — encourage them in their weak areas, help them develop their strengths, and guide them in the pursuit of their lifelong interests.
Provide room to grow, experiment, and learn. This is easier when it is part of our own daily routine!
Apprenticing Our Children
Although at times we may wish it were not so, children learn best by watching us! Every moment is an opportunity to pass something along. If they see us pursuing our interests in a learning lifestyle, they will likely follow suit.
4 Ways to Provide Time for Productive Interests
Tips for personalizing education and enjoying a learning lifestyle.
6 Ways to Encourage Your Children to Pursue Their Interests
Practical tips for providing room for our children to experiment and grow.
7 Ways to Identify Real Learning
By recognizing what real learning is (and who has to do the learning) it is far easier to pursue a learning lifestyle.
10 Tips for Providing a Non-Generic Education
Practical ways to pursue a learning lifestyle.
Practicing the Art of Homeschooling
Learning lifestyle in process.
Articles, reviews, how-tos, practical helps, and other resources.
From Sunup to Sundown With a House Full of Children
“Education has affected every aspect of our lives. Charlotte Mason, who was an educator from the late 1800s, stated that ‘Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.’ I’ve found this to be true and have discovered that ‘school’ is not something that happens from 9-3:00 each day. Because of the atmosphere we have purposefully created in our home, education starts the minute the children’s feet hit the floor in the morning and lasts until their heads hit the pillows at night. This atmosphere is designed to be a discipline, a life that establishes the quality of our relationships with one another.” Wonderful peek into the home of a “learning is a lifestyle” family!
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“So how do I go about explaining that what curriculum or workbooks or methodology you choose is simply not that critical? In fact, it’s the everyday occurrences that offer the greatest opportunity for education. Frankly, learning is such a normal and enjoyable part of our lives that we generally don’t view it as ‘school.'” What a learning lifestyle looks like, from Dena Wood.
Relaxed Homeschooling: An Interview with Dr. Mary Hood
“I think of it as a mindset. The tenets of relaxed homeschooling include these:
- You are a family, not a school.
- You are a dad and the head of a household, not a principal.
- You are a mom, not a teacher.
- You have individual relationships with your children, not a classroom.
The relaxed homeschooling philosophy frees families to learn in a more family-oriented environment. Parental goals, plus the goals, personalities, and interests of each of their children, guide their learning experiences.”