I am biased toward homeschooling over public school, so there are certainly going to be those who read my opinions on the subject and feel like I am unfair to the public school system. To you, I have this to say: the public school system in the United States was designed to teach children how to work in factories and get them a rudimentary education that would allow them to function in a society that required them to be able to read, write and do basic mathematics. Think about the typical classroom setup for a public school and you see the similarities between it and a factory work room, especially when you combine the need to raise your hand to say anything or ask permission to use the restroom. When you consider that there are still children who make it through the entire school system without being able to read, write or make change, in spite of the no child left behind program (which might have been more aptly named “every child left behind”), you can see my point that it really isn’t a functional system. Now, we have nothing on such a large scale that’s any better and we are constantly trying to improve it, but that doesn’t mean we should all send our children there. That said, here are some of the things I’ve been ruminating on in home learning.
Children have a natural love of learning. You can say that a baby’s job is learning. They pick up everything and examine it, shake it, and put it in their mouths to learn about it and try to understand it. Obviously, there are things that we have to keep away from them, or they might hurt themselves, but this is how babies absorb their environments. Children maintain this love of learning right up until they encounter a situation where they are forced to do something they either aren’t ready for or don’t want to do, and then they either feel like they failed or their wills were crushed. Teaching preschool age children letters and sounds and mathematics concepts is easy, if they’re ready for it. Most children have interest in something, and letting them follow that interest is the best way to keep them learning. Some children are ready to start reading very young. Others aren’t ready until later. Letting them take the lead on it, allows them to learn at their own paces and they continue to enjoy learning. That doesn’t mean that you can’t give a helping hand.
I learned fractions and conversions from my mother while we were baking. Two of these is the same as one of those. Eight of these is the same as one of those. I learned about dinosaurs (and unwittingly about other animals) from the natural history museum trips when my mother took me. I learned about 17th century New England from the trips to the historical sites when my mother took me. She never drilled me about any of it later to make sure I understood or absorbed anything. She just presented opportunities to learn and let me go from there. When it’s real, it’s much easier to see the value in your learning. When children see that it’s real, it’s much easier to capture their interest.
I found a website that provides enrichment experiences to help your children better understand the world around them. It’s called The Home Learning Coach and a subscription provides you with complete enrichment experiences to any educational style to help your children gain a more well-rounded education. You can also just look at your environment and see what there is that your children don’t yet understand. Participate with them in it and find ways to let them experience those things that they might be interested in.