I started out homeschooling with the idea that we were going to be doing school like they did it in the public school, but we’d be doing it at home. I bought the little desks for the kids to sit in; they were made of metal and wood (bought used from the school), and frankly, they were really ugly. Not surprisingly, they were very uncomfortable! The kids used them to do their school work in for about a week, and then they became the “holder of the books” and that was about it. They opted to do their school work on the floor, the couch or the kitchen table; all of these were much more comfortable than those desks.
What I didn’t realize was that imitating the school was not the best approach for homeschooling. The kids were working for long periods of time filling in workbooks, or I was reading to them out of textbooks followed by discussion (with a 6 and 4 year old discussions didn’t last long). They weren’t enjoying it and neither was I! Thankfully someone had told me that it’s really important to read out loud to your children, so the highlight of our day was when I would read from a fictional book out loud to them… the rest of the school day was painfully long.
Thankfully I quickly learned that home education isn’t really meant to be done the way the public school does it! We don’t have 28 students in our classroom that we’re trying to teach (at least I’ve never met a homeschool family that big!). We can do things differently because we have our children with us 24/7, we’re not limited to eight hours of being in a classroom with 28 students like they are at the school. We can make our teaching happen whenever it fits well in our schedule, and whenever a teachable moment arrives as well!
Homeschooling is a LIFESTYLE!
Homeschooling is really more of a lifestyle than it is an educational option. We develop what is often called a lifestyle of learning with our children. We aim to use all the teachable moments as best we can, striving to help our children become lifelong learners, who love to explore the world God has given them. Learning is just part of the family’s lifestyle. This doesn’t mean that we don’t sometimes have to sit and do some concentrated work on math or phonics or whatever the subject might be, but it does mean that we are not relegating learning to only when we have a textbook or workbook open.
That first year, I decided that one of my goals for our homeschool was to develop a love for learning in each of our children. I wanted them to get excited about learning, not just get through a day of school each day.
This quote, says it well:
“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” (Author unknown)
Education isn’t just memorizing facts so we can spew them out, but rather it’s finding ways to help our students become excited about what they’re learning. I prayed for God to help me figure out how to help the kids get excited about learning. He is faithful and helped me to learn many things about developing a love of learning in our children. I want to share with you some of what I learned.
Make learning fun!
There are so many ways to learn other than a textbook! Some other options are nature walks, games, songs, activities, science experiments, or field trips, just to name a few. In fact, if we want our children to love learning, we need to be careful that we’re making learning something enjoyable, not something to dread. Some kids do well with reading a textbook and filling out workbooks. Others are more active and need to have hands on learning. Check out Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods, or look into using the Unit Study approach for teaching in order to add some fun family learning times. A great book that I found for getting your kids excited about learning was “Ignite the Fire” by Terri Camp.
Delight-directed learning is key!
Delight-directed learning is key to instilling the joy of learning in your children! Delight-directed learning is a term coined by Gregg Harris, homeschool speaker and author of an excellent book “The Christian Homeschool”. It basically means that you allow your child to explore the things that interest or “delight” them! Give them the tools and resources to learn about the things they find fascinating.
“The child’s delight is the spark that ignites everything. Once established, like a fire, it is self-sustaining. The student begins to study for his own personal satisfaction, and the fruits of his study begin to flow outward to others.” Gregg Harris
Our daughter loves dogs, so after she spent a lot of time researching and learning about the various breeds of dogs, we allowed her to buy a dog. Having her own dog helped her to learn a lot about caring for another living being, and a lot about dogs. Then we enrolled in 4-H and she entered the world of dog obedience and dog agility training where she eventually won many ribbons and trophies as awards for work well done! This is just one example of delight-directed learning. Watch and see what your child is interested in and allow them to research and study about their interests. Delight-directed learning is something that you can incorporate into your school days easily, and you can even count their delight-directed studies in your record-keeping as actual school work!
Understanding your child’s learning style is important!
Take into account your child’s learning styles as you teach them. (see my two posts on Understanding Your Child for more information on learning styles) If your child is more of an active learner and you’re requiring him to sit and read a textbook or fill out a workbook for much of his school work, he’s likely to burnout and lose that love for learning. I’ve put together an informal learning style evaluation that you can request here on my website – find out how your child learns best and adapt your teaching methodology to fit it, especially in subjects that he or she doesn’t especially like or do well in.
Pray for wisdom and guidance!
God gave you the children you have, and He knows them better than even you do! He can give you the wisdom and direction you need to help your child grow in their love for learning. Seek His help and He is faithful to answer!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your steps.” Proverbs 3:5-6