Homeschooling has a rather large learning curve, the first year or two can be tough. Parents have a lot to learn to take over the role as their child’s educator. It can be overwhelming. Hopefully, most of you are moving past this initial adjustment period and are feeling more confident that you have a handle on the basics.
If you are in this initial stage this article isn’t necessarily for you. You need to focus on bringing yourself up to speed on the homeschooling movement and all the options available to you. There are a wealth of resources out there, books, websites, other parents…make use of them. Educate yourself about learning styles, various approaches, and new curriculums. Read a few books on homeschooling to gather ideas and different perspectives. The more you know, the easier it will be and the more confident you will feel.
However, for those of you who have been at this for a while and have become seasoned parent educators it may be time to move to a more advanced level. My goal (and after talking with most of you) a common goal, is that we educate our children in such a way as to make them life-long learners. We want more for our children than what we experienced in school. If our goal is to have children who love to read, who question thoughtfully, who think critically, and who pursue truth, then we are going to approach their education differently than if we just want them to master a certain amount of material and take a test on it. Our tasks becomes so much more than just choosing the right math book or phonics program.
How do we go about instilling these desires and values in our children? We’ve discussed various ways in previous newsletters, but the key I believe is our example. Our children watch us and they decide what we value, not so much by what we say, but by how we live.
- We tell our children that we want them to be readers… do they see us reading?
- We encourage them to find the theme in a piece of literature they are studying.. but do we question and have discussions with them about what we are reading?
- We take them on field trips to look at great works of art…but have we learned enough to appreciate what we are seeing?
- We assign Shakespeare, Steinbeck, and Dickens for their high school reading…but have we ever read them?
- We assign Bible and/or devotional reading to them…do they see us studying our Bibles and praying?
Are we sending a mixed message. Have our children ever heard us say…
- I never liked history, it’s dry and boring.
- I know you’ll never need Algebra but I had to learn it and now you do too.
- I hate writing.
- I just believe in Jesus, I don’t need all that Theology stuff.
- I’m just not a reader.
We’ve all given mixed messages at some point. If there is one thing I would change about how I’ve homeschooled my children it would be how I approached math. Unfortunately, my children were well aware of and adopted my aversion to Algebra.
So as we start the New Year I’d like to challenge each of us to model being a life-long learner in a tangible and intentional way to our children. If you want to formally join in on the challenge I’m going to publish this article on the website. Post your goal in the comments section and we can help hold one another accountable. Don’t know where to start…here are a few ideas.
- Read a classic. Here is a website with some ideas if you don’t know where to start. http://www.wannalearn.com/Classic_Literature/
- Read a classic Christian book like Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
- Study an artist, you can do this for free on the web. Try Rembrandt, Michaelangelo, Monet, or Picasso.
- Take a class.
- Teach yourself Algebra (maybe before your children get that old).
- Learn to play an instrument…it’s never to late.