Homeschool Help: What Does a “Lifestyle of Learning” Look Like?

Homeschool Help What Does a Lifestyle of Learning Look Like

I want to remind homeschooling parents that our freedom allows us benefits the classroom doesn’t. We should not feel bound to operate like a classroom, which can be very stifling to many children, suffocating their natural curiosity and love of learning. If your child thrives in a structured, classroom setting, by all means give it to him. But if he doesn’t, the world is his classroom; don’t deprive him. A lifestyle of learning is an excellent way to educate children.

We must remember that the school classroom functions as it does NOT because that has been found to be the superior method of education, but because that is the only option for mass-producing students. It contradicts, in fact, the evidence that children learn best in a realistic, life-like setting, with hands-on experience.

As John Taylor Gatto reminds:

“It is absurd and anti-life to move from cell to cell at the sound of a gong for every day of your natural youth in an institution that allows you no privacy and even follows you into the sanctuary of your home demanding that you do its ‘homework.’

‘How will they learn to read?’…When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease if those things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them.”  From Why Schools Don’t Educate

So, what does a “lifestyle of learning” look like from day to day?

Different for every family. But, upon many requests, I thought I’d offer some practical ways to encourage your child to utilize his curiosity about his world. The ideas are really endless. I’d love to hear YOURS!

  • Simply expose them. To books, to conversation, to places, to people, to animals, to cooking, to building, to nature. We simply cannot underestimate a child’s ability to take in, process and store information–something inherent at birth. This begins at birth and the fewer distractions like TV or phones, the better for motivating them to learn about their world.
  • Listen and watch. A child learns things best in the context of what interests him. Find out what that is, give him experiences around his interests and then look to see the learning opportunities. For example, my 8-year-old son loves building things and he loves large machines. And by “love” I mean he’s obsessed. We have let him build a playhouse (with a little help from Sis), supervising his use of the saw and nail gun. It has taken quite a bit of thought about measurements and angles and my husband has been able to really show him the importance of “squaring” the frame, etc. It’s an excellent exercise in problem-solving. That geometry makes sense to him whereas if I handed him a geometry worksheet right now he wouldn’t have a clue.

“Conversation is the best way to improve communication skills. Something, in our technologically-filled lives, that takes deliberate attention.”

  • Bait the house with books. This is my favorite. I leave books on art, science, animals and other subjects lying around and sometimes an older child will pick it up and become absorbed and even begin to read and explain it to a younger one. Or when someone crawls up beside me, I open it and start reading. I just ordered a set of “Nature Friend” magazines from Ebay and I’m excited to see how they like those too.
  • Let them learn from other people. Do you have friends or family who have a particular trade or skill? Would they mind some of your children hanging out to observe? If that isn’t an option, there are great videos that teach different skills for children who show interest.
  • Build vocabulary naturally. Being intentional about the words we use with our children is the best way to build their vocabulary. Random words on a worksheet are much harder to memorize than if they learn the word in context of life and language. Conversation is the best way to improve communication skills. Something, in our technologically-filled lives, that takes deliberate attention.
  • Focus on the traits that matter. Any time you research for “most important qualities of a successful person” or “qualities employers look for”, or something similar, the results that turn up always focus on character and NEVER include test scores or degrees. Do we take that to heart and intentionally teach and train character? Communication skills, problem-solving, and integrity rank at the top of almost every list.

LIVE. That’s the way to a superior education. Here is part of our check list, academically speaking:

  1. Can they write well, speak well and convey their thoughts well? What are some activities that will facilitate these?
  2. Are they numerate? Do they know how to handle numbers, do they understand fractions and how to work out number problems? As they get older, do they know how money works, do they understand debt and interest and budgeting? Very important.
  3. Can they type?
  4. Do they have a good grasp of history and the workings of the government? We especially want them to read biographies from great men and women of the past.
  5. Are they exposed to art in a variety of forms, and music? (If they show giftedness/interest, are we doing what we can to help them excel?)
  6. Do they have a heavy dose of common sense? 🙂

Charge ahead with confidence!

To read more, get my book, Think Outside the Classroom–it’s a practical approach to relaxed homeschooling and moms everywhere are writing to tell me how it has transformed their homeschooling experience. Get it as an ebook or in paperback HERE.

14 Responses to “Homeschool Help: What Does a “Lifestyle of Learning” Look Like?”

  1. Julia says:

    I just wanted to say what a blessing your blog is to me! I am a mother of 3 with one on the way. I am so encouraged in the Lord by your posts! Thank you!

  2. Bonnie says:

    Love, love, love.

  3. Amy says:

    True on so many things, but some jobs and advancements at those jobs require degrees. Just ask my husband.

  4. Emma says:

    I attended regular school but my parents did all of these things — and on a strict budget! I think this is excellence advice, no matter what type of schooling you choose for your children.

    When kids are old enough, another thing I would add is to encourage them to work and volunteer. Admittedly, I use to be a little envious of my friends who didn’t have to work to save for university, but now I can see that working and volunteering was a big part of my education. I still love to learn, but I love being free of the burden of marks.

  5. Erica says:

    You’re on a roll Kelly! While I know in my head that I need to supply these things to the kids…I’m not always very intentional in doing it! Having it written down right in front of my face sure brings home what I can/should really make a point of doing on a daily basis!

    BTW – how are YOU doing? You don’t have too much longer for baby to be here do you? I bet the kids are really getting excited…I’m excited for your family & keep you guys in my prayers always!

    • Word Warrior says:

      Sorry for the delay, Erica! I’m on the homestretch now…which is the hardest part, but at least it’s almost over. Everyone is super excited and we’re still trying to think of a name. Meanwhile, I’m hobbling to and fro and counting it all (most) joy 😉

  6. Mandy Smith says:

    Great post. We are trying to maintain that Lifestyle of Learning. I have found that our homeschooling days are so fun for us all and much less stressful to the momma! With that in mind, I am planning a few things for next year. What, if any, school workbooks, lessons, etc. do you use for your childrens spelling, phonics, math, etc.? You may have answered this before and I just didnt see it. THanks!

    • Word Warrior says:

      We’ve done different things with different children. We like School of Tomorrow math books, and have also incorporated some on-line practice and Khan youtube teaching videos.

      I have never used a formal phonics text; just rehearsing/writing letters and their sounds from a book. All of my children have learned to read this way.

      Spelling is covered in written narration which we do on Friday’s. They write a summary of a book they are reading, and we go over it and make corrections in grammar and spelling.

      Science and history and other subjects are mostly learned through “living” books.

      One rule I’ve always kept: textbooks are our servant, not master. So I don’t feel pressure to get through a book in a certain time. They are tools.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Renee says:

    Cute house they are building. Do you have a link to instructions for something like that? I’m not very hand with tools but maybe my 5yr old boy can figure it out and show me. 🙂 We can learn together.

  8. Janet says:

    Funny you mentioned Nature Friends. I was just looking at a flyer for it, that was packed in an order from Keepers of the Faith. I’d like to get it also, but never thought about looking for used ones.
    Great points! Very encouraging for me, I love the statement (in comments) about the books being your servant, not master.

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