Last Tuesday our 11 year old fired me as his math teacher. If I were new to homeschooling, that might just make me want to quit…but I’m not…and it didn’t. I’ve been at this for over 2 decades (8 kids). All of my kids will tell you that math is not my strong suit and I’m not the most patient math teacher, but this was the final nail in the coffin. Seriously, if I don’t have this down by now, it’s probably just not going to happen.
My first response was that wince of pain that every homeschooling mom feels when she is faced with the age old fear of failure. I’m pretty far down this homeschooling road which might explain why that feeling only lasted a split second. My next thought was how this may actually work out for my benefit because my 11 year old asked if his older brother could teach him instead. Somehow, I make through the basics of math with our kids and before I know it, they are doing higher math…without me. This has held true for other subjects as well…subjects I’m not good at…ones I’m not interested in. And it didn’t hinder their education. We are graduating our 4th and 5th in June and they all know what direction they are going.
True story: you don’t need to know everything to give your kids a great education. Over these many years of homeschooling, I ‘ve resolved to do 3 things:
1. Help our kids keep their natural love for learning so they become life long learners. This happened mainly by not burning the kids out on “bookwork” during the elementary years and allowing them time to explore and experiment on their own. In other words, I did not make everything an assignment. In fact our kids had very few assignments…a couple of pages a day in Math and Language and some handwriting. The rest of their education was self directed and this was KEY in each one of them finding out what their passion was. Once they found their passion, they pretty much left me in the dust. I was there to encourage and tell them how proud I was of them and how smart they were, but I didn’t own it…they did. And that makes ALL the difference.
2. Teach our kids to be resourceful. This happened by showing them how to find out what it is they wanted to know. It was also about problem solving: “Oh, you want to know why the sky is blue? How do you think you can find that out?” And then help them find resources. Sometimes that means YOU are resourceful enough to find a class or a person to help teach your child what he wants to know.
3. Work ethic. Our kids can have all the passion in the world about something, but if they aren’t willing to do the work to pursue that passion then it’s kind of pointless. The flip side is, if they haven’t found their passion yet, their work ethic will at least give them an income while they’re figuring it out! Teaching our kids how to work hard and to appreciate the feeling of a job well done is monumental to their future attitude toward work. Will they enjoy chores? Probably not. Will they thank you later? More than likely!
These three things along with continual work on character: honesty, integrity, follow through, kindness, selflessness, compassion, self-control, etc. are the key components in raising not just “successful” people, but people who will make a deep and lasting difference in this world. Isn’t that one of the main reasons most of us are homeschooling in the first place?
Don’t believe the lie that you have to know everything in order to give your kids a great education. Kids are natural learners. Stoke that fire of learning by allowing your kids TIME and space to learn on their own and in their own way. So much of “education” is really about facilitating what they initiate! Homeschooling can be a journey of years filled with enjoying our kids and savoring the freedom to homeschool in a way that WORKS for your family.
If you’d like more encouragement, please check out my new book called The Unhurried Homeschooler (aff)…a simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling!