Thursday, September 8, 2011

An Education, Above and Beyond

In our family, we have a philosophy for homeschool. It should be above and beyond anything available to students who attend traditional schools. It should provide a better education, involve more life experiences, offer more opportunities, teach values and goals that your family believes in, and be more fun than regular school. Otherwise, what's the point? 

Every effort should be made as a family team to take on an attitude of learning in everything that happens within the family structure. When this happens, learning becomes a way of life and occurs naturally throughout all the waking hours. The stress on teacher-mom or teacher-dad is reduced because instead of adding school to the day, parents are simply adapting the day to take advantage of teachable moments. True, many of these teachable moments are planned exclusively for learning, but they have a flow to them that happens without stressing everyone out. 

During the early years (from birth until a child becomes independent enough to work on their own) it is especially important for the parent to prioritize. Identifying tasks that are a burden should be examined and evaluated for their worth.  Maybe it isn't as important to vacuum the house every day if it takes away from spending time reading to a child.  Does grocery shopping really need to happen weekly? Possibly going once every other week would give the teacher-parent more time for what's really important (and could even save on the food budget!). 

Even very good volunteer responsibilities can become burdensome if they take priority over teaching time with your own children. Is it time to evaluate and see if possibly your children should become the object of your efforts to a greater degree instead? The point is, life changes in the family with children who depend upon their parents for their education, and so all aspects of home life should be scrutinized and evaluated as something to keep or something to discard. Sometimes parents think they are only doing a good job teaching their children only if they replicate traditional school. This becomes school-at-home where textbooks are worked on page by page or a curriculum established by an educational company who writes textbooks for classrooms of 25 students controls the day. 

When this happens, it spells STRESS and BURN-OUT for the family. As an alternative, a homeschool program that flows with daily life is refreshing, natural, and has the long-term result of children who excel in learning as they create, apply, analyze, and evaluate everything about them! Books should be your servants, and never should children become their slaves. Concepts taught in a workbook most likely are better taught and applied by other means. Games, songs, stories, manipulatives,  daily events like cooking in the kitchen, counting birds at a feeder, and going on a nature treasure hunt are only a few of the ways that a workbook can be replaced. 

Resources abound that don't come in textbook form! Use them and teach your children how to research on the multitude of things they are curious about each day. By digging deep, you'll find that instead of meeting the requirements for a subject, your children will excel and become experts in the field. Something as simple as the teaching techniques implemented in your homeschool could make all the difference! Make your homeschool above and beyond what the community school has to offer your kids!

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