How Do We Do It: Homeschool Edition

I don’t post a lot about homeschooling. Part of it is because I still feel like I know so little, even though our family has been at it for 8 years. Part of it is because I know people and blogs who are very efficient and good at homeschooling. I’d rather you go to them for curriculum advice.

It’s not that we fail at it. I guess it’s more about what my philosophy of homeschooling is and how that makes our education here look very different than others. And yet, it might not be that different at all.

So maybe, today, I will share a little of what my basic objectives/ideas in homeschooling are. I’m the first to say this is a work in progress. But here goes:

  1. I want my kids to love the process of learning.

There are too many kids out there who think all learning is stupid. Ironically, they are not being smart by saying this. A love for learning is based on the premise that learning is a lifestyle that never ends. That goes for academics as well as spiritual pursuits. We are never done. It’s easier to do something when you love it.

2. I want my kids to be responsible adults someday.

The wonderful crazy thing about homeschooling is that my goal does not have to be to “get through the book” or “ace all the tests”. I get to integrate character building at will. I get to disciple my children all the time. Things like, kindness, service, selflessness, perseverance and initiative. There are many great teachers who instill these things in students too, but I am just as interested in my kids’ character as I am in their grades.

3. We learn to remember, not a “bulk dump”.

I want my kids to understand concepts, not just breeze through to take a test. And it is hard. And discouraging. You second guess yourself and think you are royally messing your kids up. I have to remind myself that learning is not a race. I want my kids to gain a mastery more than I want them to add another star to their chart. So, sometimes, we struggle. But those struggles make the victories greater.

A beauty in home education is that it can be tailor made. I am not a worker on an assembly line. The same things are not going to work for different students. Adaptability is key. Age, learning style, weaknesses and strengths make for many differences to adapt to.

4. I want my kids to function in society.

There is a reputation that homeschooled kids are social idiots. Some of it is unfair, but some of it is well earned. I think that we need to teach the social aspect to our kids in a balanced fashion. Think of a balance: one side, complete independence. The other end: constant succumbing to peer pressure due to naivete. I want a Christ-centered approach where my kids dependently independent yet engaged with others around them. Wordy? Yes. Another post for another time.

6. Commit to making things work.

I am committed to homeschooling. Part of it is desire and the other part is necessity. The same idea goes for curriculum. I could spend a lot of time and money getting fancy curricula, but seeing as I have neither, I must make do with what I have and can afford. Also, changing too often, at least for my kids, really can confuse them; especially if each year you are trying different methods. I tried out several different math curricula for consecutive years, until I finally decided to stick with one that, while it isn’t my favorite, I can work with it. We just couldn’t keep changing.

Remember too: just because a curriculum is challenging doesn’t mean it is wrong for your child. School is a great place to learn to overcome difficulties, and that is a lesson so needed for our young people today. When the going gets tough, work harder.

At the end of the day, the Holy Spirit really needs to be your guide in homeschooling. I can’t do it myself. The wisdom I need to teach and ultimately disciple these children has to come from God. When people find out we homeschool, the #1 response I get is, “You must be so patient! I could never do something like that.” You know what I want to say (but don’t)? Neither can I! It’s a lot of moments of “Lord, give me…”

Give me wisdom. Give me patience. Give me love. Give me understanding. He has to give me a lot of things during the school day. But you know what? He’s generous.

 

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