Friday, July 9, 2010

The other day I was over at my friends house chatting with another mom that I don't know as well and we were talking about home school methods. It is hard for me to sum up my home school methods because I have traversed every method promoted out there... I think.. and like any vagabond, have picked up a few things here and a few things there and learned from trial and error and what worked with one kid doesn't always fit with another and on and on and on... (yes, I know that is a run on sentence. My whole homeschooling life has been one big run on sentence.) But anyway, I have always enjoyed finding out what other people are doing. Especially people who have older and or adult children. There are a lot of really enthusiastic young moms out there who are all ready to detail every aspect of their plan for child raising and homeschooling. I know they have good intentions (mostly. Though there are those who simply aspire to be the next rock star of the home school scene and want to be acknowledged and admired. Give those girls a wide berth. At least until they get a little humility under their belt... Which they will...) But the older women can give a more realistic idea of what to expect, what worked for them and why...

Anyway, since I like to know what other people do and benefit from it, I thought I would post a little about what we do. Maybe it'll give a resource or thought for someone who would like some new ideas.

Now remember-I am a mom with ten kids. I am also a non driver. I am certain that if I had only a few kids and a car there would be at least some things I would do differently. I am not into following methods to the letter. I am on a mailing list that is centered around a particular style of teaching and sometimes the women just agonize (it seems to me) over what book goes where and where to start and how much of this or that... I think we are so fearful of thinking for ourselves and we just want someone to take us by the hand and guide us through every little step...

Anyway, here are some basic things I think are true of child raising and general and schooling specifically (not in any particular order. I write these posts off the cuff as I'm sure you can tell):

Children are people. Can I just say, I think we forget that? They get bored, discouraged, overwhelmed, just like we adults! Why do we put burdens on their young frames that they aren't meant to carry?

They are not here to pad our egos, fulfill our unlived dreams for us, show the world our superior teaching skills, get a job that will make a bunch of money, get married just so we can have grandchildren, etc. etc. etc.. Some of those things may happen, but they are side effects, not the goal.

They are here for a purpose. It is to glorify God. Education is a tool God can and probably will use in their life to fulfill that purpose, along with other things. But it is a tool and not the end in itself. The glory of God is the end.

Part of the glorifying of God is the expansion of His Kingdom. Education should reflect the goal of kingdom expansion (though I think I would define that more broadly than a lot of the church today. Maybe.) and priority should be given to subjects that can contribute to that goal. but...

God does a lot of things for the pure joy of it. How else can you explain flowers blooming where no one can see them? So if the necessities have been covered I see nothing wrong with a kid taking time for something for the pure fun of it, like researching the history of baseball or learning to play the penny whistle, as my 16 yr old son is in the basement doing right now...

Children have been created for certain positions in God's kingdom. I know there is a basic knowledge that every kid should know. Bible, phonics, math (to a certain level) I would put in things like church history and general history and a basic science education. But I also think there should be a lot of individualization too. The education my 16 yr old son got is simply not the same one my 18 yr old daughter got. She is much more literature focused, types faster, sings, plays piano, bakes... Forrest focuses on composing music, economics, violin, and sheet rocking of late, and displays a shocking lack of knowledge about classic literature (at least to Shayleen) Elisa (14) so far hasn't done any music really, though I keep praying for a flute for her... She reads astronomy books for fun... So, like I said. Different.

And I think getting to know your child is an intrinsic aspect of homeschooling. They are like presents we get to unpack slowly. What all has God put in here? I don't think you can home school well if you don't take time just to delight in the person God has created in them.

People learn things better if they are actually interested in the thing you are trying to teach. I will never forget making Shayleen do a certain chapter about Chinese history over 3 times when she was about 10. She never did pass that chapter review, but she did proclaim henceforth that she hates history. I think that was a big mistake on my part.

Well, I better go make breakfast now. The natives are getting restless. More later.


  1. LOL - rock stars of homeschooling. I know what you mean!

    I think there's a fine line to walk when homeschooling and trying to attend to kids' interests as well as their needs to learn something they may not want to.

  2. Hi Kerri,
    When we were homeschooling, I would tell people that we were doing "interest-based" schooling, which is much as you describe. After covering the basics of learning to read and math, we would study whatever was of particular interest to each child. At one point we had gerbil habitats all over the basement, since one of our daughters was interested in how many colors and patterns she could breed! Shortly after learning to read our first son became interested in Indian chiefs, and read one book after another on that topic.

    I am thankful for the opportunity to have finally met you and Rand and the family, Kerri. I continue to be amazed at how alike our family ideals are. I do hope more members of our families can meet one another.

  3. Marbel, I know what you mean and I was planning to get to that. Laziness is part of the sin nature and it has to be accounted for.
    Joyce, it is so much fun to get into each of the children's interests, I have learned a lot about things I never would have picked up on my own. :)