Friday, November 5, 2010

Creating Independent Thinkers

In the early years of the current homeschooling trend, the ability of a parent to teach their child academics was firmly challenged by those in the traditional school system. Homeschool skeptics argued that specialists were needed to teach children to read, write, and learn math. The talk in public school faculty lunchrooms frequently centered around a community members decision to home educate rather than to take advantage of all that the public schools had to offer. It is true that the public schools do offer many things to the children in our communities. For some families, a public education is the only alternative. But, when there is a willingness and opportunity for a parent to share in the educational process with their children, and home education is the result, much success and educational growth has been shown to occur. Over time, even many professional educators have admitted that the academic results of homeschooling can not be argued. Time after time, homeschooled children test above the national average in all areas and at all grade levels. If a homeschool family commits to education and spends time focusing on learning, children who are academically competent and who know how to think is the result. Homeschool families have a plethora of resources and methods to choose from. Each family educates using their own unique approach. Because of this, children obtain knowledge and skills at different rates and at widely differing ages. But, in the long run, what could be perceived as a lack of knowledge in an area at one age could mean nothing when looking at the broad view. Children develop naturally and according to their growth and learning spurts when homeschooled. A teacher-parent who educates purposefully within the scope of a child’s natural growth and interests creates a learning environment that is frequently spontaneous. Although a planned curriculum may be given (and reassures the teacher-parent that they are on schedule), a great deal of valuable learning occurs independently by the child outside of the planned lessons. Once a child has been shown how to learn what they need to know, they usually catch the spark and will continue to learn, gathering facts, information, and skills independently along the way. This is the best kind of learning! Learning becomes intrinsically theirs and becomes much more meaningful to them than some facts in a book. Higher levels of applied learning result, and the world awaits! The role of parent then becomes as a guide to stimulate learning, exploration, and an environment conducive to such. Patience, a willingness to answer questions, and the time to show the child how to learn for themselves are traits that will provide great dividends to the future of the child. With the right resources (time, energy, and materials) and attentive parents, the homeschooled child cannot help but take off as a student with great potential!

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