I experienced private school, public school and home school while growing up. The private Christian school I attended was excellent. It was a small school with dedicated teachers and challenging curriculum. The rules were strict, but we knew that they were in place for our good and that they were enforced in love. My five years in public school had very few redeeming qualities, apart from two teachers who sincerely enjoyed teaching. Home school had good and bad points, but mostly good. We used correspondence school which required hours every day of sitting in front of the TV to watch other kids sit in a classroom. There was one teacher on the videos who was exceptional.
My favorite year of school, however, was eighth grade. That was my transition year between a rotten public school education and the much more demanding correspondence school. I spent that year teaching myself all of the things that I should have learned while in public school. It was hard work to get caught up enough to start the correspondence school in ninth grade, but I really loved it. I was given the materials I needed along with the freedom to spend as much or as little time as necessary on each subject. Math took a ton of time and effort, English was easy for me. By the end of eighth grade, I had caught myself up to where I needed to be to jump right in the next Fall. That year of teaching myself really shaped my view of the “ideal” school environment. My hubby and I sat down several years ago and came up with some ideas for how we want “home schooling” to look in our home.
- To teach our children to love to learn. This is the key to all the rest. If a child doesn’t love to learn, the rest is pointless. Drilling facts into their little brains does nothing for how they think and who they are. A true love of learning will stay with them for the rest of their lives, but dusty old facts slip away before the school year is out.
- To teach them how to learn. If a child is primarily sitting at a desk listening, the teacher is the one doing all the work. If a child is reading assigned homework, it means very little to them. We intend to teach our children how to delve into a topic and come to understand it themselves.
- To nurture their natural curiosity. God gave children a natural and unquenchable curiosity. We need to take every advantage of that trait by encouraging them to explore whatever they are interested in. Rather than doggedly sticking to a ridged curriculum, we will allow for flexibility to follow the rabbit trails and see what we discover!
Things we do not want:
- We don’t want an artificial learning environment. That doesn’t mean we won’t have a designated school area, just that we won’t isolate learning to that one area.
- We don’t want our children being bribed to learn. Too many well-meaning teachers use bribes to try to get the children to learn. If a child is taught to love to learn, then they won’t look further than the joy they get from learning.
- We don’t want time wasted on memorizing useless information. Yes, there are some facts that children need to know, but for the most part, comprehension and critical thinking are much more important than memorization.
- We don’t want our children learning things that go against our beliefs and morals. This doesn’t mean we intend to shelter them from the fact that other people believe other things, just that we don’t want to put them into the care of adults who will tell them their parents are ignorant because we don’t believe in evolution or gay marriage. Children, especially very young ones, shouldn’t be put in the situation of trying to figure out which authority figures are right. If they spend most of their waking hours with teachers, can you guess who will have more opportunities to shape their beliefs?
Things we do want:
- We want our children to learn through real life. There is no limit to the number of things a child can learn during an ordinary day. Every event is an opportunity for us to teach them something.
- We want an environment that encourages learning. This includes educational (and truly fascinating) books, toys and videos that are available at any time, not just when it “fits into” the curriculum.
- We want learning to be it’s own reward. If a child loves to learn and is excited about a topic, you don’t need to bribe them with candy or gold stars.
- We want plenty of fun and educational activities to do as a family. This could be anything from a trip to the zoo to a camping trip. Making it a family activity helps to reinforce learning as a life-long thing, and it makes it fun!
- We want to have an integrated approach to learning. Everything is connected, somehow. If a child is bombarded with isolated facts, they may be able to spout them off, but there isn’t any true understanding or appreciation of the knowledge.
You can read about homeschooling younger children here, and older children here! Also, here is an explanation of the Charlotte Mason method and this is a post about the Thomas Jefferson Education method, along with many wonderful homeschooling resources (many are FREE!!).
Do you have a unique view on home schooling?
This post has is part of Your Thriving Family’s Weekend Whatever #4