As homeschooling moms we try hard to provide our kids with the best curriculum, experiences, and well-rounded education. But unless our kids find their passion, all of that can feel like mostly an exercise in futility.
Helping our kids find their passion is a huge challenge. It’s not tangible. It’s far less easy to control. That makes it a lot harder than focusing on curriculum or activities. It requires trust on our part. Trust that the child will eventually make it to that place of knowing what they love, grabbing ahold and running with it. And neither of us have any idea what that is going to look like.
The joy of homeschooling is that it affords TIME. Something most educational settings do not. In order for our kids to find what they love, they need to have time to experiment, to try things out, to explore and to imagine. It requires us to take a “hands off” approach and, often, simply take a backseat to their exploration. That means we cannot be “helicopter moms”. The truth is that they do all this exploring best WITHOUT us hovering over them and/or trying to initiate everything. This is something to keep in mind over the summer months as well, not just during the school year.
The only problem is that there is a constant temptation to cram the day with all the “subjects” we think we need to cover in order to be doing a “good job” of homeschooling. What if I told you that your elementary school child does NOT have to have a science or history curriculum? That they could simply choose to explore the things that interest them in those areas through books and playing outside, chasing frogs, catching insects. Or you could take a day trip to see how a dairy farm functions or watch a documentary on how things work.
We seem to think that our kids need to be entertained ALL. THE. TIME. Don’t get me wrong, some boundaries and direction are good, but the truth is, boredom is the precursor to creativity. You heard me right, it’s ok to let your kids be bored for some time each day. Too many scheduled activities can limit a child’s ability to motivate and direct themselves.
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to what we THINK everyone else is doing in their homeschooling life or use the traditional school setting as our standard. But isn’t that why we decided to homeschool in the first place? Because we KNOW the classroom isn’t the setting or educational route we believe is best for our kids?
Each family’s journey in helping their kids find their passion is going to look a little different. I can only share our experience. It’s one that’s been successful so far.
But let me encourage you to keep the main thing, the main thing. Yes, have them do basic math, language arts and handwriting each day, but consider laying the rest aside in exchange for a calmer, more peaceful rhythm to your day. One that gives time and space for free play and gives your kids a chance to connect with their “education” on their terms. This allows them to do the searching it takes to eventually find what they were made to do.
(For more on how to bring more peace into your homeschooling days, I’ve written a simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling called The Unhurried Homeschooler available on Kindle and in print. aff)