Are you ever afraid that you might be missing something in your homeschool? Do you dream about the perfect homeschool?
Do you have the ideal curriculum?
How many classical books should your child read for literature?
Can they conjugate verbs in a foreign language? Is that even a thing?
Fear not, your homeschool does not have to be perfect. In fact, it will never be perfect. I’m not saying good curriculum isn’t important or that there isn’t value in reading the classics. But no one will ever care if your child has read the entire works of Shakespeare. No college or job application will want to know the type of curriculum you used.
Rather, the bigger question is why you think you have to plug every possible hole in your child’s education? If you’re trying to prove that your homeschool is as good as public school or some other nebulous standard, you’ll fail. The standard will keep changing. Someone will always have an opinion about something you haven’t done or could do better.
Ultimately, education is not a matter of stuffing every bit of knowledge from the beginning of time into your child’s head. No school does that – not even at the university level. The knowledge of facts, dates, and theories should not be the ideal goal of education.
Instead, education, by definition, is helping someone learn how to learn. Taking it a step further, the goal of education should be to impart the love of learning.
Stop and think about that. How much do you remember from high school or college? Not your locker code or your homecoming prank or your prom date. I mean the subjects you learned in class. I’m willing to bet it’s not much.
While I wasn’t the best student, my high school teachers did succeed in helping me learn to learn. They didn’t teach to a test I had to pass to make them or the school look good. (Obviously, I went to school a hundred years ago.) Instead, they taught their own passions and passed their interest in their subjects to their students. That, alone, gave me a solid start in college and has served me well in life. I don’t need to know it all. I just need to know how to find the information and learn it when I need it.
It’s the Just In Time philosophy for life.
So, if you need to step back from the overwhelm of what to teach and how to teach, relax and focus on one thing. The love of learning. That, my friend, is the perfect homeschool.
How do you teach the love of learning?
Well, I’m not sure you do. I guess there are some education professionals who have theories on the matter. But I think the love of learning must be caught more than taught.
First, ask your child(ren), “What do you want to know?” Avoid the word “learn.” If you’re just starting to homeschool or are burned out, the thought of learning may have a bad connotation. It smells like boring books, lame lectures, and fractious facts. Instead, focus on an area of interest.
All you need is one spark of interest, then learning happens naturally. When you’re absorbing knowledge, it doesn’t have to be memorized or boxed into a curriculum.
You may have to make a few suggestions to get started. Brainstorm ideas that sound like fun.
It doesn’t really matter what you start with. This is just the first step in an educational rabbit trail…where you start pursuing one thing, only to find five (or fifty) related subjects that are just as interesting.
Once you pick a subject, consider the various ways you can investigate. Approach this like a Sherlock Holmes mystery without the dead body.
“The Game is Afoot”
Watch videos. Documentaries, movies, demonstrations, and interviews are available by the dozens, or even hundreds, on the Internet. What can you NOT find on your subject of interest.
Talk to experts. Nothing beats a real, live expert. Most people love to talk about their expertise. Usually, the problem is getting them to stop! Don’t be afraid to contact strangers. I have a friend whose daughter was interested in music composition. What did my friend do? She looked up the musical score credits from some movies and found someone who lived in her area and CALLED him. Total stranger. He was happy to talk to her and arranged a visit with her daughter to show her what he did and to give her advice. That young woman is now composing her own musical scores for independent films – all because she investigated her interests.
Read books. Yep, reading is valuable when you want to investigate a subject. Libraries, book stores, magazines, online blogs, newspapers. You might be surprised where you will find information. And the more you know, the more you want to know.
Take field trips. Now we’re talking fun. You might not be able to go to the moon if you’re investigating space, but look for local star viewing parties. Maybe a safari isn’t in the budget, however a visit to a zoo or wildlife park works. Bring your subject to life with something tangible!
Work on projects. The culmination of any investigation is a hands-on project. If you’re honing your cooking skills, I volunteer to be your taste-tester. If you’re into cars, find a junker to rebuild. That’s pretty ambitious, but what a project!
Education will always involve learning challenges, but when you approach it like an exciting adventure, your child will learn far more than the timeline of the Peloponnesian War. You’ll ignite a love of learning and prepare her to conquer any subject. No more Army crawling through algebraic equations or putting out fires from your chemistry experiments gone wrong.
Stop imagining the perfect homeschool. Instead, find something to explore and go have fun!