For someone with no personal experience in homeschooling or a close friend or family member who chooses that lifestyle, it might appear that there is a cavernous gap between home educating a child or sending one to school. Yet, I believe there are some practical secrets every parent can learn from homeschoolers.
Practical Secrets Every Parent Can Learn from Homeschoolers
Most kids do not get excited about formal learning.
By this, I mean textbooks and workbooks. While there are exceptions, the younger the child the more they enjoy learning through exploration. So, cut them some slack when any whining starts about what they are doing in school. Even older kids end up more excited learning through reading well written books on a subject and talking with people passionate about the topic.
Learning happens everywhere and not just in a classroom.
Whether they are running errands with me, helping in the kitchen or talking with other adults at church, the boys are constantly learning. I think this is the big pull I feel for the idea of ‘unschooling’ or delight directed learning for my boys. We’ve had seasons (e.g. when my youngest son was born and we moved from Maryland to Alaska) where we embraced a bit of that lifestyle. But, I do enjoy seeing what their interests will have them doing on their own.
Reading aloud to your child does not have to stop when they begin reading.
One curriculum we used in the past for elementary and middle school ages included books to be read aloud by the parent. Not only did I end up enjoying some great stories, but we had wonderful discussions about the story and any situations presented that sparked something in the boys.
One size does not fit all.
Any parent with more than one child knows deep down that each of their children is unique in abilities and interests. Expecting to see each child fair well in the same academic setting is not practical. One subject area where I have seen undue stress placed upon a child is reading.
Schools expect them to pick it up and be reading in kindergarten now and if they are behind students may feel ‘labeled’ for tutoring. While extra one on one time is great, I have talked to children (boys especially) who called themselves ‘stupid’ or ‘an idiot’ because it wasn’t clicking for them. To me, that’s a great reminder that development happens at different times for each child
You are your child’s best advocate.
When a parent is also their primary educator, it seems easy to do what is needed for your child. However, sometimes it can be intimidating to be your child’s advocate in the school system. Yet, YOU know your child and are more vested in the outcome than any teacher or administrator. Granted, there might be a handful of parents who are comfortable abdicating all responsibility to the school district and take whatever they say as gospel. However, I totally get the hesitation to make waves at a school when things are not working for your child. Embrace that fear and make an appointment with the teacher or administration to address your concerns.
It is okay to let a child fail.
In some ways, this is a lesson that could go both ways as I have met some homeschooled kids who get “straight A’s” because of how a parent grades. And, I have seen parents taking over control of a project or hovering over their child for fear of them failing. I’ll admit to giving my boys extensions on their due dates in the past, but can honestly say that I am a tough grader. And, I have let my one son attending school do his own projects his way even when I knew it would mean a lower grade than if I helped him out. Remember, it is through our failures that we may really learn and become stronger.
What are some practical secrets you’ve learned to help your child learn and succeed in life?