Looking back over the last 7 years of homeschooling I’m so grateful for all the lessons learned along the way. I started homeschooling with my rose colored idea of what homeschooling would look like.
You know the beautiful old-fashioned picture of your children looking up adoringly at you as you teach them sweetly how to form their cursive letters and just what exactly a verb is. Your children would never complain and heaven forbid that they should ever forget anything you so diligently taught them.
My beautiful rose colored bubble was destroyed when reality came crashing through!
Pop! . . .
What a shock to this never homeschooled optimistic Canadian girl!
7 years later I’ve learned so much. This is what I would share with you if we sat down together at my dining room table for a cup of tea:)
7 Lessons Learned:
Lesson 1: Play is Essential!
Play is not an extra. It is an essential piece of your child’s development! Looking back I would be less stressed about the academics at an early age and make more room for play. I would place a lot more value on my child’s play time.
Children learn so much from play. It is how they discover the world around them. You’re not being a bad Mom by allowing your children free play time. Your child needs to develop his or her own imagination and that only happens when they have the ability to act on their ideas in their own time.
The play that children need is undirected free play. This allows the child’s imagination to explore and expand with new ideas. I cannot overemphasize how incredibly important this is for our children. Don’ t entertain them during this time, but allow them to explore their own ideas and it’s even better if they can spend a great portion of their play time outside!
Lesson 2: Storytelling is a Learning Tool
In the past 7 years of homeschooling, I have had the opportunity to see the effects of a more traditional approach to homeschooling on my children. I have also been able to see them blossom and grow with a more artistic story based approach.
Although my children did fine with a more traditional approach they absolutely flourished with the more artistic creative approach. I’ve found storytelling to be a powerful teacher. The increase in retention and understanding is amazing. Storytelling is not only a powerful memory builder it also grows and expands the imagination beautifully. It connects the heart and the head in the learning process:)
Storytelling also give’s your child a solid foundation in creative writing even if your child is not yet writing!
Lesson 3: There is no Superwoman!
It is not possible for one woman to get it all done. Stop talking down to yourself because your child is behind in his math program.
Your job is to help your child develop the habits he needs to diligently work daily at his school work whether he wants to or not. As long as your child is learning, understanding and making progress no matter how slow, you are succeeding. Even public school teachers do not get through all their curriculum every year.
What about household tasks? Again I say, delegate, train your children to help. Use routines and be willing to accept less than perfect results, at least for a time.
We are not striving for perfection here. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Your home is a training grounds of sorts for the future generation you are raising up!
Lesson 4: Balance Interest Based Education with Discipline
Children need to be given the opportunity to explore, discover and learn about topics they are interested in. However, I think that child-led learning must be balanced with learning about things they may not have chosen for themselves.
- Because in exploring other topics your child may discover new interests and passions that they did not know about.
- The second reason for this is that there are life skills that children need to learn whether they want to or not.
Our children’s education needs to be a blend of child led interests and the discipline to do the work we might not choose.
Lesson 5: Less Media, More Real Life
Don’t allow your child to develop the habit of time wasting, brain deadening media binges. Whether it’s video games or movies they all have a dulling effect on our children if indulged in too often and too much.
Cut back, if one of these has become an addiction then cut it off. Do some of your own research on the detriments of too much media to your child. Each family has to come to their own conclusions about how much is too much and where to draw the line.
Spend more time doing things together as a family. Build some real life active memories rather than spending family time being passively entertained. Go for a nature hike and pack a picnic. Develop a family hobby, maybe bike-riding or camping. Allow your child to bake. knit, learn to sew, take up woodworking or gardening.
Have a family conference and make a list of ideas you and your children would like to try. Encourage your children to live life rather than passively watch others live it.
Lesson 6: Train your Child to Work Independently
Independent school work is a must. How your child does in school can’t be entirely dependent on Mom. If you do not teach your kids to work independently early on it will become too much for you. Not only is it not healthy for you to do it all, it’s not possible and it’s not good for your kids!
So how do we do this?
What things can your child do independently? If your child is only just learning the alphabet, then they can not write yet, but can they copy letters from the chalkboard independently. Can they draw a picture in a notebook about something they are learning?
Can your older children research for reports independently, if not can you begin to teach them how? Can they write creative stories independently, with you correcting their rough drafts?
Check in on their progress and make sure they are staying on track. Encourage them to come and ask for help if they need it, but don’t do the work for them:)
As we train our children to work independently we are training them to be responsible adults.
Lesson 7: Learning needs to be Artistic and Experiential
Art and projects are not just extra afterthoughts that can be fit in here and there. We can not afford to overlook artistic and experiential learning. These are the tools that make our child’s lessons come to life!
If we can approach our children’s schoolwork with art, storytelling, and projects we explode their capacity to remember and understand. We reach all the different learning styles! We accomplish so much learning just by changing the vehicle by which they learn!
Well there you have it, my 7 most important lessons learned from 7 years of homeschooling. I wish we could sit down and enjoy a cup of tea together. I would love to hear what your most important lessons learned from homeschooling are. Feel free to share in the comments below.
Be sure to get your kiddos outside to enjoy some sunshine today.
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