Thursday, August 9, 2007

"If I Had Only Known..."

Today's Back To Homeschooling topic is 'If I Had Only Known'...What have you learned on your homeschooling journey? What would you/did you change? This is an opportunity to encourage others who are just starting out or who are struggling with issues that seem unsolvable. It is also a perfect opportunity to tell us about one of those days made you want to throw in the towel. A funny story? Perfect!

The number one most important thing I have learned on this journey called homeschooling is that our children are only little once, and for such a short amount of time. There is a difference between 'teaching' and 'training' our children. Yes, there are many things they have to be to add, read, spell, ect., but just as important is training their hearts, hence the name of my blog.

If we only tell our children "do this" and "don't do that" yet we fail to explain to them WHY they should or should not do things, then they never really understand how life works, why we treat others the way we do, why we don't do things that go against God's will. All they know is that mom and dad said "Don't". Without the 'why', their little hearts go untrained.

For example, if we just tell them, "Don't hit your little brother" then they may or may not do it again without any thought. But if we instead say, "Honey, we can't hit little Jimmy because it hurts him. How would YOU feel if someone hit you? It would hurt, wouldn't it? And you wouldn't like it very much either, huh? Well, that's how Jimmy feels too, so let's not hit him anymore, ok? 'Cause we don't want to hurt him. He's just a little guy and it's your job as his big brother to take care of him and protect him!"

Yes, it takes more time to respond to our children this way, but it is SO worth it. Training their hearts when they are little is what will make them into the adults they will some day be. It will determine how they treat other people and if their training has been done with firm Biblical standards, then it will also play a huge roal in their walk with the Lord for the rest of their lives.

I've learned that we don't have to replicate 'school' at 'home' and shove tons and tons of information at them. Life is not about filling a bucket. Buckets eventually, when filled with too much, simply can't hold everything and if filled too full won't be able to hold any more. And sometimes there's leaks in a bucket. That's not what we want for our children. Instead, we want to light a fire! We want to make learning fun and enjoyable when possible and instill a love of learning in our children. When you light a fire it starts out small until it is fed the proper ingredients (fuel and oxygen). It then grows and grows until it's big and hot and able to continue growing on it's own!

To light the fire of learning in our children we provide them with all kinds of opportunities to learn while also having fun, and sometimes... they even learn on their own! (Gasp!) We use lots of good, living books, puzzles, games, field trips, movies etc. We don't follow a strict boxed curriculum where we have to finish a certain amount of work in a certain amount of time. We follow their natural learning rate, meaning, when they 'get it' we move on to the next thing and not until then. We take nature walks and go to the park and the lake. We read out under the trees and take picnics. We play games and watch good movies and learn and laugh and grow and make memories and simply enjoy life.

Have I ever wanted to 'throw in the towel'? Honestly, no. Sure, there have been frustrating days when no matter what I do Baby Girl doesn't understand a new math concept or I can't get a book read because the boys are just too squirmy and loud. But in total and complete honesty, I KNOW that our children are so much better off here at home than in public school and I've never once considered sending them. Now, there have been days where I've THREATENED to do it, but I never really would.

I think keeping a fun and laid back approach with our schooling has helped keep me happy with homeschooling. If I had something telling me that we needed to do 'X' in 'X' amount of time I think I'd get overwhelmed and eventually behind, which would stress me out. After a while of that I can see myself wanting to just throw my hands up and quit.

Now, that's now saying anything bad about any particular curriculum. Everyone has to do what they feel is right for them and their family. I'm just telling you OUR experience and what works best for US.

My children are smart and learning lots of things and having fun doing it. Are they where their public schooled friends are? I have no idea, and I really don't care. How many of us LOVED learning and going to school TO LEARN NEW THINGS after say about 3rd grade? How much did we retain of what we learned? How much did we really LEARN and master while in school? How many familiy memories did we make during our school years? I want different for my children, and that's why I love having them here with me.

1 comment:

Dana said...

Wonderful thoughts, and I couldn't agree more.

The biblical standards are key. Ooh. That reminds me of something I wrote a long time ago. I think I have my post for this weekend if I can find it...