When your child has a strong educational foundation of excellence, knows how to educate himself and has the support and encouragement of mentors; nothing is missed. Education excellence proceeds through the natural ebb and flow of everyday living. As you and your children walk side by side as partners, you both become responsible to each other’s greatest success.
Our societal and conditional way of education has us believing we need to cover it all and maintain a constant load of multiple subjects. Mistakenly parents bring this into their homeschool with well intentions only to begin experiencing a slowdown in learning, disinterest and stress.
When considering what to keep and what to drop remember, for everything you add to your child’s academic regimen including extracurricular, you take away from his core learning. Just when you think adding more will increase his learning; it can actually be decreasing it and at the same time diminishing his love for learning.
Let’s look at the 3 foundational parts of education excellence.
1) The Academics: Core, Practices and Explorations. Core academics include primary focus on arithmetic, reading and writing. Think of your books as the core of your homeschool. This is where all academia will begin, early with learning how to read. Reading is a skill we will use our entire life, the very skill that can empower us to greater heights as we live and learn so it’s important to have a strong start and make reading a constant life practice. Just as food scan alter our health so is true that the books we read can alter the way we think and see the world. Always start with the very best of books so your children can learn what quality literature looks like, sounds like, and tastes like. The classics are the books that have stood the test of time and the lessons from those books are long lasting. The beauty of classics is that they become customized to each child’s education as they each pull from their own purposeful perspective the lessons needed for life success. As you use the classics in your learning you will get a good feel for the way they read and if a book is picked up that is not high quality you and your children will recognize it right away. Sprinkle in a good balance of whole living books, first and second person historical accounts as well as classics in each subject of interest and you’ll have a great balance. After Core we move into Practices which includes what you do on a regular basis to build skill such as penmanship, narration, read alouds, timeline work and the arts. Next we bring in Explorations which can include a sprinkling of history, science, nature study, work and service to others, field trips, library time, free play, creating, technology and projects. Explorations are more customized according to family preferences as well as in respect to each child’s highest values and life purpose. While Core is the constant academic focus, Practices and Explorations can be as long as needed to build skill, seasonal or constant as a family choice.
2) Self-Education: The ability to teach oneself and discern what must be learned. The greatest lesson you can share with your children is the skill to teach oneself effectively. It’s really a necessity for their success because we cannot perceive what our children will face in the future much like our parents or grandparents (depending on your age) could not even fathom us working on computers. When a child knows how to self-teach, they can go anywhere and do anything they set their mind to no matter the demands of technological advancement, conditions of the economy or the challenges met to the fulfillment of life purpose. Not only is this giving your child power, it is also relieving him of chaos, confusion and distractions that come with covering it all or adding a lot of subjects. Self-education must be guided and no parent can impose self-education without implementing mentoring, an inspiring learning environment and books and resources that are conducive to self-education. Remember, many curriculums are designed to be taught by a teacher leading the class requiring prep work. These type of curriculums and worksheets must be never handed to a child with the expectation that they teach themselves. Self-education is a guided practice best mentored and nurtured over time to ensure life practice. While it is the most natural way we are all wired to learn, it’s important the proper structure of resources, practice, accountability and support is provided.
3) Mentoring: Partnering, honoring values and achieving excellence. Walking beside your children as partners empowers each of you to be your best. You’re sharing the path in life together and in the process you learn and grow together. You’ll be modeling what you want to see in them, and this puts you in a position of greater connection realizing you’re most influential in their education no matter what method you choose. Instead of ruling over them, you’ll be walking beside them, acting in true leadership. This is the most honorable way to learning because your child is guided by your mentoring while they are still growing in their ownership and accountability for work completed. Our children are people too. Though they may be young, they only lack experience and vocabulary. Seeing the genius within and loving them unconditionally right where they are, is the greatest way you can support them in their learning and growing. As you love and encourage them unconditionally you relieve them of the pressure to perform or “win” your love. On the other hand, you don’t want to drop everything at the demand of your kids. They also need to learn that not everything goes their way all the time. This is not how the real world works so you want to properly prepare them. As you find considerate ways to meet their needs, be empathetic and empowering. When life doesn’t go their way you’ll be there to provide, guide and step aside which adds to their firm foundation. Much of this work becomes easier when you work with each child’s highest values which serve as a guide to life purpose. When you work with respect to each child’s highest values then whatever relational struggles, learning difficulties and stress melts away because you’re no longer pushing against the highest values and important purposeful learning and living. While all work is not done until quality is accomplished, success does not rely solely on academics but rather is the fabric of the whole being and whole experience.
Each family defines their own success and homeschool focus that best guides their children to their highest good. Education must be a good match but it’s not to be experimented with; instead rely upon the tried and true that’s stood the test of time. Make sure that as a parent you’re honoring the unique fabric of your own family while you also learn from and are inspired by other families in love, life and learning. These are the best days with your children. Any investment in yourself to be a better parent, mentor, self-learner, skillful in your own purpose and leadership is an investment in your children and all future generations touched by them and those you serve. From the comfort of your home you’re making a real difference in the world, today and tomorrow.
“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” –Mahatma Gandhi