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Homeschool... What we learned about learning at home

As we start our second year of homeschool, I know I still have a lot to learn, but I also feel like I have a life experience graduate degree in the subject. This may seem like a bit of a departure from our normal topics here but I really wanted to share what we have learned so that it might help anyone whether they formally decide to homeschool or even just have kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews or friends they want to support in learning at home. So here are a few truths we’ve  learned about homeschooling….

 

  1. If a kid loves books, they can learn anything they need to: Books are EVERYTHING. Now this doesn’t mean every kid naturally loves reading or there won’t be struggles but if there are always books available, if you always turn to them for answers, if you find ones they enjoy they will honestly learn all the things. Keep  books in every room so they can grab the and look through them, read aloud as much as possible, let them see you read and enjoy books, give them free reign at the library to make some choices, find a series you can’t get enough of, fill your shelves and baskets with a variety of fiction, nonfiction picture books and chapter books and let them feast.

 

( a little note to those of you with babies in your lives. Read to them  ALL.THE.TIME. as early as possible. There is legit research out there that says it counts and we are generations deep in unofficial case studies here that prove it correct. Keep reading. Always have books. It works!)

 

  1. Get outside. Period. I happen to believe with my full heart that a child will learn anything they need to with books and time outside to explore. A walk in the woods or on a trail, lunch by the lake or river, a blanket to watch the clouds and the birds. There is no better classroom than God’s world. They will notice, they will see science and art happen before their eyes. They will invent experiments and test their hypotheses. Put a child  in nature and learning is the most natural thing that will ever happen.

 

  1. Kids are wired to learn: God made children naturally curious and gives them a spirit to explore. If you don’t believe me spend a little time with a 3 year old who can’t stop asking, “why?!?!” Even if they are reluctant in a school setting, their brains are literally made to soak up as much new knowledge as they can. Pay attention  to those things that naturally interest then and build their learning around those. Feed their curiosity and watch it grow into knowledge and passions.

 

  1. Kids are not wired to sit still all day: The brain and body are partners in every way. And while as adult learners, we may feel the need sit in quiet and concentrate, children are firing on all cylinders at all times and need a different environment. They need to bounce and play while listening. They need to engage their hands in drawing and doodling so their brains can soak it all in. Unless the behavior is distracting or disruptive, let them be kids and they will not only enjoy learning more but will also do so more effectively.

 

 

(There is a huge difference in how adults and children learn. There are even different names for it {Andragogy vs Pedagogy} so be open to ways a child is very different from you)

 

 

  1. Some days are just bad and you will yell: If we go into any situation expecting perfection we’ll be sorely disappointed. Homeschool is no different. We’re all just people and no matter how hard you try to make it enjoyable and perfect, it is like and there will be bad days and there will be yelling, maybe tears, and you may find yourself hiding in the closet with secret chocolate, but for every day like this, there are 20 amazing ones that make it all worth it.

 

  1. There is nothing better than seeing the lightbulb go off when something clicks: No matter what you’ve been lead to believe a child, regardless of the school setting will not learn and retain 100% of what they are taught. It’s not possible. Once again, we are not going for perfection but, there will be moments when it clicks. Moments where they hit a stride, moments they truly enjoy and those will make every single rough patch 1000% worth it. These probably won’t happen daily, but when they do soak them up.

 

  1. Messes are where learning happens: there is a lot to be said for being neat and orderly. It’s kind of hard to do work when you are constantly looking for supplies and books but it can go the other way too. Forcing constant tidying can disrupt learning and create unnecessary stress. Create systems for keeping things manageable them HAVE SOME FUN! Are you bored with spelling words? Throw some sugar in a tub and practice writing in that (then let them drive cars and trucks through when they’re done) Learning fractions? There is nothing better than good old fashioned baking to make it come to life. Messes create memories and learning. Don’t be afraid of them.

 

  1. You know your kid best: Teachers are amazing. Real life angels. There is no debating that. Amazing learning happens in schools every day. But, I’m talking to mamas specifically  here, know one knows your child like you do. It’s the way God made us. It doesn’t matter if you stayed home, worked round the clock or somewhere in between, we know our babies and as we watch them grow and learn we are THE experts on how they learn. Trust your instinct (and also know when to ask for help. We know them best, but everyone needs help!)

 

  1. Know when to savor the plan and when to throw it out: Balance is always a challenge and learning is no different. There are things kids MUST learn but the beauty of homeschool is we get to pick and choose how and when. We all have days when we just can’t and kids do too so it’s very important to recognize the difference between those days (when a break is all that will help) and the days when we need to push through frustrations and rise up to the challenge. We don’t always choose correctly, but there is always space to change course and try again. And as I already said , you know your kid best, you know when to push and when to hug. We’ll never get it all right but we can keep trying and doing better and better every day.

 

  1. You can do it: Homeschool is one of the easiest and hardest things you will do… all in the same day. I said we would never, ever do it and now I cannot imagine life without it. If you’re thinking this may be the path for you, or you feel a little tug or whisper, listen to that. No matter what your situation, there will be a bajillion challenges along the way, but if you feel that nudge, if you think God is leading you toward educating your babies at home, listen. Find a friend who has done it (reach out to me! I’m here for you!) To help you see the path. If God is leading you to it, he will make a way for it. period. Wether you work full time, stay home, have one kid or lots, single parent or grandparent who wants to help…. It can be done and it is beautiful. You can do it so don’t give up.

 

 

 

Whew! That was a lot and I could honestly go on for 93 more points but I’ll stop here for today.  Homeschool is (obviously) something I’ve become very passionate about . It is beautiful (and messy, and hard, and loud, and stressful and all the things) and one of the very best things I’ve done in life. Not that we’re pros or experts but we are the best student and teacher at our school and we are learning. We are doing it and

 

 

 

 

 

PS here’s a bonus tip: If you’ve done Virtual or Distance learning through your local school for the dumpster fire that was 2020, don’t they that discourage you. That is “Crisis Learning” not homeschool. I applaud educators for giving kids lots of options during that season and today but that is NOT homeschool and if your family didn’t do so well in that environment, never fear!



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