From the flow of our day to how and what we teach, most of us have been conditioned to believe that learning must look a certain way.
We have a pre-programmed idea that all education should look like the brick and mortar school down the street and we spend hours trying to re-create this school environment in our homes.
It’s what we know, it’s what we are familiar with, it’s what we think everyone else is doing. Surely, it must be the right way.
But is it?
Should homeschool mimic the public-school model?
Perhaps the way we think school ‘should’ look like and the things we think we ‘have to do’ are actually robbing us of the joy that could come with a real education?
There must be a shift in thinking and that shift needs to be away from the familiar model many of us grew up with.
In order to fully embrace the gift of homeschool and the freedom of moving beyond programming information into our children while checking off lists, we must throw off these pre-conceived ideas and expectations.
We must, instead, instill in them a passion and a spirit of a life-long learner, sparking a desire to understand and actually enjoy the process.
Case in point:
We all had to do them. They are a staple to ‘school.’
In the younger years it begins with simple fill-in-the-blank lines.
Title. Author. Characters. Setting. Plot. And maybe, if we were lucky, we would get two lines to share our thoughts on the book.
As we got older, the expectations of a book report led us to the point that the only purpose in reading was to find the information that we would be required to regurgitate in the book-report.
The daunting book report turned amazing literature into little more than an assignment and it robbed us of the delight and excitement of getting lost in a story.
I am not saying there is no place for a book report, but I am saying that with our homeschool freedom comes the ability to analyze what is really necessary and the authority to put away the good things in order to focus on the greater things.
What if, instead, we read books to connect, to learn, to grow in who we are? What if we read books simply because we have learned to love reading? What if we chose books that sparked interest and ignited passion in us, rather than choosing them because they were on an assigned list?
What if, when we turn that last page, we are not faced with a pile of papers we must fill out, but, instead, there was a cup of tea and a great conversation about the book awaiting us?
Another shift in thinking I had to face when I started homeschooling was how we handled writing.
Making my home look like the school I was used to ran like this: I give the assignment that the teachers book tells me to give. They complete it and turn it in. I get out my red pen and go on the hunt for what is wrong. They take the page back and fix the mistakes, returning it to me, only for the page to, eventually, be thrown into the stack with all the others that followed the same process.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
I have seen so many kids have a love for writing sucked right out of them in the early years through this process.
This is where our homeschool freedom comes in. This is where our opportunity to instill a love for and give a purpose to the written word presents itself.
A simple shift in thinking.
The writing assignment in my teacher-book for the day was comparing and contrasting lions and tigers. My children have no interest in these two animals, nor do they have a reason to write about them and I saw it written all over their faces as they grabbed their papers.
Another purposeless assignment.
But, what if I ignored that assignment and, instead, I allowed them to compare and contrast pancakes with french toast? What if we made these two delicious foods together and then, as they were eating, I told them that if they could give me a convincing written argument as to why one was better over the other, I would serve it the next day for breakfast?
Now the excitement builds. Now they have a vested interest and purpose for writing
They could not wait to get pen to paper.
Imagine a homeschool experience where you could throw away the box you were trained to learn in, and so desperately want to put your child into, because it is comfortable, known, and predictable.
Imagine an education that existed outside that box, that allowed you to teach to who your children are and who they were created to be.
The freedom to adjust and alter.
The freedom to skip something here and add something there.
The freedom to capitalize on the moments they are in and the interests they have.
The freedom to open up a world of unending opportunity to your students; opportunity to explore, discover, lose themselves in a book, write a story that comes straight from their heart and follow all the rabbit trails that will inevitably lead to a deeper understanding.
This is homeschool freedom.