Term Perspective in Home Schooling
How To Really Enjoy and Succeed at Home Schooling
By Lori Crank
September has come. We have accumulated books and supplies and
are ready to start another year of school. During the first few
weeks of school, everyone feels a sense of accomplishment. Then
the trials begin. Someone is sick, other family needs require
attention, one of the children just doesn't seem to be able to
keep up with the schedule. What do I do now? How will I ever get
it all done? Will there be any time for them to study other
things that they would like to learn?
This is a common problem with home schoolers. It springs from our preconceived ideas of what school should be like, based on our own school experiences. I am going to suggest that you try to erase all of your preconceived ideas of what school should be and look at your home schooling from a different perspective.
We would all agree that each child should know how to read, write, and do arithmetic. We would also agree that there is a lot of factual information a child should learn (though we might not agree on all the specifics). One of our biggest problems is that we go by an arbitrary set of standards produced by "educators" who do not know or care about our individual children.
With home schooling, we have the unique opportunity to tailor make our child's curriculum to meet his specific needs. We can look at our child's strengths and weaknesses and determine how and when it is best to meet those needs. Not all children are ready to learn the same things at the same age. Sometimes it is even best to leave off certain subjects that are really not of interest to the child and will not be that useful to him in later life.
I found the more I relaxed and became flexible in our home schooling, the more the children enjoyed learning and the more they learned. One of the biggest challenges that we face is our shortsightedness. We tend to look at what is accomplished day to day instead of looking at home schooling from a long-term perspective.
When we started home schooling all that I could see were all the textbooks that the correspondence school had sent us and the time frame that they had given us to complete them. I do not do well under pressure. I was in a panic for most of that first year. The real problem was not the work that needed to be done but my perspective on education in general. I needed to get out of the public school mindset and look to God to show me how to educate these children He had given us.
David and I sat down after that first stressful year and totally zero based. We decided that we really needed to look at education as a long-term process and not just a year to year set of goals. What knowledge did we want to impart to our children before they left home? What were each child's interests, strengths and weaknesses? .
We looked through the different subjects traditionally taught in school and tried to put together a program that would reach the goal of a well-educated child without the stress and hassles that I had experienced the year before. We also wanted to teach the children to be independent learners. We discovered a lot of needless repetition of subjects. How many times do you really need to cover English grammar, history, or science? Is there not a better way to approach these subjects and keep the child's interest?
We decided to cover English grammar once in depth in the later years. We did this with all four together, when they were in junior high and high school. They had learned most of the grammar rules through writing but now learned all the terminology and logic of it. Spelling was another subject that was covered through writing - the place it is actually used. And we found, the more the children read, the better their spelling. So why teach spelling as a separate subject? In the first eight grades we looked at history and science as subjects to be covered through the whole book approach. By this, I mean we read science and history books as the child had interest. Then when they reached high school we covered each of the separate subjects once. We found that their reading had given them a good grounding in each of these subjects. Our literature program begun in the primary grades continued on through high school.
Once we had the traditional school subjects taken care of, we could then focus more of our time in other areas, such as life skills and other areas of interest. We tried to stay away from using outside teachers as much as possible. The cost, the time away from the family, and the commuting time were some of the top reasons for this. Since they had been taught to learn independently from an early age, they were able to learn things on their own that we were not competent to teach. And sometimes when more personal instruction was needed, God would bring along a friend to assist.
Once we started looking at the long-term opportunities of home schooling, our life as a family began to revolve around each other and the total education of the children. We began to look at all of life as a learning opportunity. This meant that nothing was a real disturbance to our learning. When family needs had to take priority, we were able to keep schooling as well as address the problems at hand. Since we used mainly whole books, the children's school could go with us wherever we went. A sick grandmother allowed us to learn compassion as well as selflessness in with our regular school subjects. Again this is all part of educating the whole child.
Now that we have finished home schooling the older four, I can look back and see the rewards that come with taking the long-term view and preparing a child for life. We hope to do the same, and even better, with the younger two.
Volume 1 Issue 3: September / October 2000, © Unless The Lord ... Magazine