Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Smithsonian Formula

An educational philosophy is important for your home school. If you have a home school philosophy that is specific to your family it helps to keep your goals and strategies in focus. The grandfather of home schooling, Dr. Raymond Moore, recommends that each family have a philosophy written and prepared as the basis of establishing a curriculum for each family that home schools. A successful family philosophy focuses HIGHLY upon the formula that Dr. Moore presents (Smithsonian formula) on creating a genius.

The Smithsonian Institution’s study of twenty world-class geniuses stresses three factors: 

1) warm, loving, educationally responsive parents and other adults; 
2) scant association outside the family, and 
3) a great deal of creative freedom under parental guidance to explore their ideas.

Peer pressure works to tell us that we must socialize our children by having them spend time with other kids. But, studies have shown that the greatest socialization takes place within the family structure and by association with other adults. It is perfectly okay for children to spend all week with their parents, associating with other children only weekly at church. As children reached the upper elementary grades, they frequently start asking for opportunities to spend with other children. At that point, teaming with other friends to start a ‘home school activity group’ that meets semi-monthly and provides structured field trips for a group of local, home school children can be provided. This frequently fills the ‘need’ of children to associate with others their age. Piano and other group lessons can also help meet this need. The structured environment continues to facilitate learning and prevents an opportunity for negative socialization.

A great deal of freedom to explore is important. In order to create creative children, time and resources to work with are essential. So is the ability for mother or father to put up with a mess! A separate space for learning can be helpful in containing materials for this type of exploration. Paper, glue, paste, scissors, computer printers, cameras, film, paint, glitter, etc. and etc. are much more important than coloring books and paint by numbers. A supply of art materials should always been readily available at all times. They are tools that can be utilized for every subject, not just art class.

It’s important to keep priorities in focus. If one chooses to home-educate, then the education of our children must be a priority. This includes their religious education and the development of their intellect and ability to think for themselves. This comes before: canning and freezing food; laundry; a clean house; shopping trips; visiting the neighbor; etc. Of course these other things are important — but the children and their education should come first. Assigning workbook pages for the children so that the parent has time to wash windows or clean the oven does not create a wholesome and productive school environment. Children become bored to tears and homeschooling can become a struggle with this approach. Instead, plan work into the daily routine, so the children work with the parent in establishing a tidy home structure. Make this process a part of learning. Then, continue to develop other kinds of learning events as a family team. Although it is important for a child to learn to work independently, busy work is not the key.

Lessons learned while creating, building, analyzing, and applying concepts are best absorbed and retained by children. A unit study approach that is developed by the parent teacher around the interests of the children being taught is interesting and grasped well by them. It is the role of the teacher parent to create lessons and learning experiences that spark the interest in the children being taught. A bored child does not learn well. It is the parents role to provide experiences that facilitate growth, learning, and interest in any subject. Mastery will result effortlessly if this principle is applied.

Developing an educational philosophy assists the home school family to teach and learn purposefully. Once a philosophy of learning is established, the resources selected to facilitate this learning fall into place. If workbooks do not play a role in promoting your educational philosophy, there is no need to spend money on them! Instead, use your resources to find the tools that promote the philosophy you choose to embrace. Children are a precious natural resource. Thoughtful care should be taken in establishing how we will help them learn.

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