When I retired as Homeschool Teacher, I started blogging because I enjoyed writing and wanted to learn more about using the internet. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising, but that was right before the internet came to be, so my education didn’t include anything about it. I haven’t always enjoyed writing, either. I went to school before the days of word processing when writing anything, either by hand or typewriter, meant writing and re-writing, and using a bottle of Liquid Paper, to produce a paper worth turning in. All of that time, not to mention the tedious assignments, made me dislike it. In a seemingly short time, the world had changed a lot because of the internet. Now that I had the time, I was eager to update my skills.
Inspired by My Students
I was inspired by my kids because they had learned how to learn. During their childhood, they had the benefit of the internet to look up anything they wanted, at pretty much any time. They didn’t wait to take a class, they figured it out theirselves. I’d been a little envious of that. When I was growing up, the only resource I had at home was a set of encyclopedias, and it wasn’t exactly up to date.
Nurturing the Love of Learning
One of our homeschool goals was for our children to learn how to learn. More specifically, we wanted to nurture the love of learning that they’re naturally born with. It’s the same principle as the common proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Every education is going to have gaps. We can’t know what the future holds for our children, or what they’ll need to know. Additionally, technology changes at such a rapid pace that by the time it’s in a textbook it’s out of date. But if our children learn how to learn, then they can learn anything.
Knowing how to learn is more than a skill, it’s having confidence in one’s self to learn independently.
So how do we foster this independence? I have some suggestions based on my personal experience.
There are a variety of approaches to homeschooling, and one of them, Unschooling, is child-led, and follows their interests. While many families follow that style of homeschooling, all families can implement its principles to some degree. Here are some suggestions:
In kids’ free time, during holidays, and school breaks, encourage them to pursue their interests.
Make sure your children have free time. Don’t over-schedule them.
Design a purposeful environment by providing your children with materials that are educational, wholesome, and are in keeping with your beliefs. Consider culling anything that doesn’t meet that criteria.
As they mature, give them more input in planning their classes and activities.
If you see an aptitude, look for opportunities to nourish it through extra-curricular activities, online classes, clubs or camps, where they can learn more and meet others with the same interest. Look for a mentor or apprenticeship. Don’t be shy about asking fellow homeschoolers for ideas. You never know, another homeschool parent or grandparent may have just the expertise you’re looking for, or know where you can find it.
Don’t get so caught up in following curriculum that it doesn’t allow kids to investigate other things. Learning is learning, and they learn better when it’s their idea. Like another famous proverb – “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” – you can force kids to do homework, but you can’t force true learning. Learning is more than memorizing facts, it’s an internalizing or synthesizing of the information, being able to dissect it and recombine it in new ways, and explain it.
Don’t underestimate your child’s desire or ability to learn. They will all have their own pace and capability, but God created us to learn. They’re like little sponges. If they seem unable or unwilling to learn, it may be that the natural love of learning has been driven out of them because current subjects or methods aren’t meeting their needs. Re-examine your method and materials to see if some changes are needed.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Years ago we read a book called Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham. We’ve read a lot of good books through school, but this one was particularly inspiring. It’s a biography about Nathaniel Bowditch, who, despite adverse circumstances, found ways to learn the information he craved, such as borrowing books or finding apprenticeships. Primarily self-educated, he was a mathematical genius, and considered the Founder of Modern Maritime Navigation. Nathaniel Bowditch knew how to learn.
A steep learning curve can be exciting, yet stressful. I’m more empathetic about that now. I already knew how to write, but all of the technology related to blogging was totally new. Since beginning my blog, I’ve learned many new terms and skills. There were a few times that I needed to learn so much so fast that I felt like my head was going to explode. When your kids have steep learning curves, have mercy on them. Allow them the time they need to grasp the new information.
Homeschooling my kids helped to revive my own love of learning, and watching the variety of interests they’ve pursued has inspired me to pursue my own.
[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]Homeschooling my kids helped to revive my own love of learning.[/tweetthis]
Learning should be a life-long pursuit. At least I hope it will be for me. I’m relearning how to learn…and I’m loving it!
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Boredom: Gateway to Creativity
This is so inspiring! I struggle sometimes with how to encourage my kids to love learning, There is so much pressure to meet these “standards” and SO many kids are way over scheduled. Thanks for this, I love it!
Thank you! I totally understand that. When I was new to homeschooling I clung more tightly to our curriculum, but as time went on and my confidence increased, I loosened my grip. I want to reassure new homeschoolers that it’ll be okay to enjoy their newfound freedom.
Yes, everyone should implement an unschooling philosophy to a degree because that’s really how we as grown ups go about learning for ourselves. I can’t wait to pick up Mr. Bowditch and read it with the kids. Thanks for the recommendation!
I have always loved learning about any and everything. However, when I became a mother, my eldest son taught me that he was different. While he enjoyed learning, I discovered that some of his interests were outside of what he was being taught in school and that was ok. It taught me as a mom how to nurture his love for things outside of the traditional school day and helped him to embrace what he was being taught in school as an integral part of life. Learning to love learning can be done!
Thank you for sharing your experience! I truly appreciate that!
This is excellent! So many good points! And the last part I can especially relate to. An old saying keeps coming to mind as my brain fills with all this new info….You know, the one about teaching old dogs!? hahaha…not really…the learning is just slower than I would like!
Loved this! My 2 kiddos are grown (24 &
21), and I love proving to my 4YO g-daughter that her brain can hold SO much information. When she asks inquisitive questions, as toddlers do, I can’t wait to go on the journey with her to find the answer(s).
That’s that natural inclination I’m referring to. If only we can nurture it instead of squash it.
I love this post! My favorite part is “Homeschooling my kids helped revive my love of learning.” It has definitely done that for me as well. Even though I was homeschooled myself, (2nd generation homeschooler here) I had lost that love of learning. I think that happened in my quest to work hard, get all my credits, and finish highschool.
I can see where that could happen. Congrats on being a 2nd generation homeschooler! That’s wonderful!
I’ve loved learning how best Parker learns. I’m learning right along with him!
I’m so glad to hear that. Thank you!
What a great post! One of my favorite things about homeschooling is how we all get to learn together. Another thing I appreciate is how tailored our children’s education is, according to their interests and gifts.
Thank you for sharing your sage wisdom here!
-Cheryl @The Long Way to Go
Yes, so true. Sometimes we’re the teacher, and sometimes the student.
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