Do you ever feel like you’re “doing it wrong”? Homeschool I mean. Does it not “feel” schoolish enough?
Maybe your “idea” of homeschool, is wrong. I have, through experience, learned many tough lessons. I want to share those with you, maybe it will save you some time and heartache.
1.) Homeschool is NOT the same as SCHOOL. When you decide to homeschool, you must wipe those ideas of “school” from your mind, you cannot duplicate SCHOOL at home….it just isn’t possible. So, what CAN you do? You can do it BETTER. If you have in mind that you must sit at your table for 3-4 hours at a stretch, wipe that idea out of your mind….it is wrong. If you have in mind that you must have a box of books, and videos, and a curriculum pre packaged with worksheets…..you’re wrong. If you think that you must fill in the blanks of numerous worksheets each day in order to “school”…..you’re wrong. You do NOT have to do all those things in order to EDUCATE your child 🙂 Did you see that word swap? SCHOOL….EDUCATE….yea, those two words are often swapped….but they should NOT be. Why? Because there IS A DIFFERENCE. So, herein lies the decision. Are you trying to SCHOOL your child, or do you want to EDUCATE your child? Allow me to explain the difference.
School: A place you go, a building with 4 walls. In that building there are rows of rooms. In those rooms are desks. During the day, students sit at those desks listening to teachers TALK AT THEM….they fill in worksheets with the information poured into their brains….and then, SOMETIMES they retain that information. Schooling is NOT conducive to LEARNING.
Educating: It is a way of life. Its something you DO as you go about your day, pointing out wonders in nature, observing them and looking for the hows and whys of the way things work. It’s something you DO as you’re driving down the roadway, noticing new words on signs…sounding them out :). It’s something you DO, as you color and draw pictures from nature, as you practice solving math equations and you learn WHY you’re wrong when you’re wrong…and HOW you were RIGHT when you answered it correctly. Education occurs through MODELING, DOING, and OBSERVING. Education…is not the act of filling in the blanks on a worksheet…..Education is so much MORE.
Learn: To gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience
2.) The ONLY way you can MESS UP homeschooling…..is by not DOING ANYTHING educational at all 🙂 I really feel like this is a silly notion, but I feel like SO MANY homeschoolers live in constant FEAR that they will somehow MESS UP. Maybe, they’re afraid they already HAVE messed up by choosing to homeschool….because after all, their child refuses to fill in the blanks, and they cant get in the 2 hours of reading each day they think is necessary, and omgah their 8 year old cant multiply yet, and ALL THE OTHER KIDS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL SEEM SO MUCH SMARTER…..can you feel a homeschool panic attack coming on yet? Yes, I thought so :-p. Here is what you DON’T know yet 🙂 First of all….you don’t know EVERY public schooled child, chances are you only know a handful. You don’t know the statistics…maybe the PS in your area is filled with small geniuses, but CHANCES are….their failure ration is MUCH MUCH higher than yours :). From experience, I can tell you that I could NEVER do with 20 children, what I can do with 2…or even 10 :). I can also tell you that NOT ALL CHILDREN learn to read at the same time…nor do they gain math skills, or understanding of science concepts all at the same time. Just as not all children learn to walk at exactly 8 months and 10 days (as my daughter did), and not all children have difficulty with their “r” sounds….as she does 🙂 Not every child will learn to tie their shoes at exactly 4 years 2 months and 8 days old….so you’re getting the point here….My 6 year old learned to read at 4 with GREAT comprehension, but shes slow and steady at gaining fluency. My 9 year old, learned to read at 7 but he is VERY fluent and yet he has trouble with comprehension…..I’m not worried, because it’s obvious to me that they WILL learn to read….and because they HEAR words all the time, and if they dont understand the meanings they ASK…I also know they will learn to COMPREHEND what they are reading.
3.) It’s NOT about TODAY….or THIS YEAR….We ARE NOT shooting for HARVARD AT 10…
Sure, it’s great if you have a super genius child who really might end up at Harvard by 10…..but chances are, you’re like the rest of the world and you’ll gladly settle for UVA at 18 🙂 Here’s the thing, it does NOT matter if your child can read at 4….or 6…or even 8. I am certainly ALL FOR evaluation of any child who is over 8 years old and has ABSOLUTELY no reading skills….and by that I TRULY mean no concept of letter to sound, and no ability to sound out even small words. I’m all about being VIGILANT for learning disabilities (my son is LD…Auditory Processing Disorder). The thing is….if your 8 year old is READING…but maybe not on grade level, maybe he just needs PRACTICE, and a little time! Same goes for ALL of the subjects a child may struggle with…..if they are DOING it…but maybe just a little slower than you expect, just give them practice *(I DO NOT MEAN HOUND THEM EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY TO PRACTICE) and TIME. Also….keep in mind that some kids just DO NOT EXCEL in certain areas of academics….typically a child who is an A student in Math, is NOT an A student in grammar or reading…..it’s just the way the brain is wired :). So allow them to EXCEL in the areas they excel, and HELP them along in the areas they are weak.
So in short….if you find yourself burnt out, ready to give up, overwhelmed, or otherwise disheartened…..take a good long hard look at your homeschool. Evaluate your method…..are you trying to make SCHOOL happen at home, or are you trying to EDUCATE your child? Make a decision today, that EDUCATION is the goal….not School. There is no education comparable to that of experience, so allow yourself to STOP with the mindless filling in of blanks….and GET OUT…MAKE LIFE YOUR SCHOOL. Experience Nature, Experience Culture, Take time to pick out those teachable moments and make the most of them…your children are NATURALLY geared towards learning, so TEACH them by NOT “schooling” them, INSTEAD….EDUCATE them through LIFE 🙂 and you will have life long learners.
Journaling- handwriting….journal at the end of the day, and have them write about all the new things they saw and learned about 🙂
Drawing and Coloring- improves fine motor skills
Read Aloud to your children….even if theyre older 🙂
Have them read aloud to you
Take them on nature walks….let them pick out an animal or plant to learn more about
Study Cultures by VISITING them whenever possible, and when not then through videos 🙂
Learn Grammar and Spelling through music and dictation
Minimize the amount of time spent tied to chairs, and MAXIMIZE the amount of time in experiential learning
If your kids are High School Age- There is a call for just a little more sitting down and lecturing. Make it FUN and experiential though. Even Chemistry is more fun when you use legos 🙂 Biology through nature when possible, and Physics through experiment when possible. Make learning as EXPERIENTIAL as possible, and you will find at the end of this magnificent journey…..an adult who is able to THINK, who questions, who learns, who craves knowledge…..an EDUCATED adult.