One of my observations with public school is that the children are simply waiting for the bell and working to minimums. What is the least I have to do to get by? The material is often surface-level, and the interactions are like texts — abbreviated. In contrast, homeschooling allows you to drink deeply. Take something you love, and become really, really proficient at it, exhausting all there is to learn. It is also where learning becomes fun and personal.
Yet, I have seen some families use this approach to their child’s detriment, where their children are never required to do anything they don’t care for, and they graduate children who don’t test above about 4th grade level at anything. This is not because their child had learning challenges, but because they had a tendency toward avoiding the hard things. Let’s face it — there are no short cuts to learning how to multiply, nor is it easy, and ultimately no matter how creative we try to be, it requires work, repetition and memorization. Still, I believe it should be pretty standard stuff, regardless.
Fostering a Desire to Learn
One of the gifts I think I have given my children who were educated at home through high school is how to think and how to continue learning. The reality is that when I was schooling my older children in the ‘80s, before Abeka even sold books directly to families, I could NEVER have anticipated life in 2013 or the types of things my children would need to know. Therefore, we have to make sure that our children catch the joy of reading, that they learn how to learn and find information, and that they realize that anything that interests them is something they can learn about from books, the internet, mentors who apprentice them, etc. One of my saddest observations of how public education is impacting young people is that it is killing their curiosity. It is producing a lot of young adults who have no desire to continue to be lifelong learners or to continue to invest in their own growth and learning. Rather, they listen for the bell, do just enough to get by and can’t wait for it all to be over. Some of this is because they have no say in what they are studying. No vested interest. No stake in the outcomes.
Apply What You Learn
There are so many great things to learn that, when we can involve our children in the choosing (not all, but some), it can be highly motivating. There also needs to be a reason and application for what is learned. Some ways to do that are to have them teach someone younger. Or apply the learning in a very practical way. Language arts can become writing for the church newsletter or writing to Grandmother. Math skills can be keeping the family or home business income and expense statements. Learning Excel can be to keep a database or to keep the family finances straight, etc.
Play with what you are doing. Try different approaches. Don’t leave your kids to fly totally solo, but also don’t duplicate the rigid, time constraints of a traditional school day, where just as something is getting good, the bell rings. Also realize that few classroom teachers actually finish a textbook in their 180 days, and much of the early part of the year is spent in review for all forgotten skills because of the long summer break. For alternatives, check out the Pros and Cons of Home Schooling Year Round to see if maybe you and your family would benefit from a more year round approach.