More money, more time and more effort toward federal education has had one result: less real, meaningful education and even failing standards by the system’s own measure. If you are thinking about homeschooling, I challenge you to dive into some research and see that it isn’t as difficult as you might think and that “school” doesn’t always equal education. Really, what have you got to lose?
And if you’re already homeschooling, congratulations! And relax. Education doesn’t always look exactly like we think it does. Remember, the classroom model isn’t very impressive. Even in research where test scores are high, experts are beginning to realize test scores have much less to do with what employers are looking for and what makes a successful person in the real world.
Here are some important think-outside-the-classroom things you should consider:
1. Refuse the notion that “earlier is better” when it comes to formal academics. There is so much research not only refuting the idea that a jump-start in formal academics benefits children, but we now know that it can actually have negative effects on their ability to learn and process information.
Children have a unique ability to process information and they need a load of tangible experiences in which to do it. Old fashion play is not just play; it’s an important, tactile form of education, preparing them for more abstract learning in the future and hindering them, if they don’t get enough of it. Why Kids Can’t Think
2. Conversation, conversation, conversation. I’ve written over and over on this one, and it seems quite obvious, but conversation becomes more scarce as we immerse ourselves into the technological world. It takes deliberate effort to cultivate an atmosphere of extensive conversation in the home, but so much learning takes place through this one medium! Talk, listen and ask questions. Talk in the car, in the kitchen, around the table and throughout the day. Challenge thoughts and opinions by asking probing questions and even play “devil’s advocate” to help your children formulate solid reasoning and communication skills. To be able to give an answer, in and of itself, of what we believe and think and feel, is a rare but valuable asset.
3. Be convinced of the skills that matter most and hone those. Guess what the seven most desired universal job skills, according to Forbes are:
- The art of communicating clearly and concisely
- Good writing ability
- Getting along with others
- Able to learn (re-engineering skills)
- Computer skills
There’s no algebra, physics or chemistry in that list, though those skills might be helpful in specific, specialized areas, and yet most of us are far more concerned with developing those measurable facts over diving into these. We need to at least be spending as much time on what is recognized as the most important skills for success, don’t you think?
4. Give them experience. The Chinese Proverbs well states: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I’ll remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”
This is why the “play” I mentioned earlier is so important in the early years. Experience (tactile learning) creates the foundation for knowledge. But experience continues to be THE GREATEST teacher throughout life. Look for ways to let your child do things. And it can be simple. Cooking, planting a garden, making their own purchases, making phone calls, writing letters, dabbling with the computer, building a fire, changing a tire, using tools, yard maintenance, taking pictures…the list is endless.
We have found that teaching is a form of hands-on experience that is very beneficial. Even after six years of college, grammar never became so clear to me until I started teaching it. I’ve tried to remember this in our home education and have an older child teach a younger child some concept. The older child thinks it’s for the benefit of the younger, but it’s not so much.
5. Nurture creativity and business skills. Once upon a time, we were such an entrepreneurially-minded people. But with the advent of forced, compulsory schooling, there was a mass, deliberate effort to change all that–to make a mostly docile, following society instead of risk-taking leaders. That effort literally changed the entire face of our culture. We need to resurrect some of that ingenuity again in our children instead of drugging it out of them. We need to teach our children the value of starting their own businesses, developing strategies for earning multiple streams of income, and breaking the notion that the only option in life is becoming an employee. I love Cameron Herold’s message on raising entrepreneurs.
Most kids get excited about making a dollar or two, so let them! Help them create a simple business plan (learning basic economics in the process in invaluable, something else we don’t teach enough). Let them feel, by experience, the relationship between an idea, developing the idea and turning it into a profit. They may hate it. It may solidify for them the fact that they DO want to be an employee and not deal with the challenges of owning a business. But give them the chance to know that.
Educate them–live life with them, let them explore, experience and expand their ideas. These things will transpose to invaluable assets no matter what they end up doing in life.