I used to worry that I’d mess up my kids by leaving out some really important part of their education. I came to realize, however, that classroom learning, although it can be very beneficial is really just the beginning,
If you teach your kids how to learn and don’t squelch their God-given interest for discovery in the process, you have done your job. Anything they ever need to know they can find out at any time of life.
My general practice was to do academics each day for approximately 2-3 hours per day. That left a lot of day during which time the kids did chores, devotions, reading, and then were free to explore individual interests. This is where the life-long learning took place.
What to do with this time will be as variable as your kids are different from each other. Some of the things my kids did along the way were: actively being involved in political races/parties, writing stories/books, building bookcases, raising chickens, selling eggs, raising rabbits, leather craft, selling leather belts, starting a photography business, volunteering to help overwhelmed moms, taking piano lessons, reading, flying, hunting, cake decorating, gardening, experimenting with plants, building garden ponds, finding new ways to grow things, interviewing World War II veterans, visiting elderly folks, cooking, baking and selling bread, making and selling candy, ministering to others, plus many, many more.
Sometimes their ventures failed and sometimes they succeeded, but they learned from both. Sometimes the things they did became activities they continued to do, while others were passing interests, but that’s what it’s all about. Kids need to be free to explore, build, create, try and fail; our role is to encourage them and supply them with materials or opportunities to try new things. An added benefit is that all your kids will learn from the projects the others are involved in. Sometimes they’ll end up doing projects as a joint effort.
If Dad is self-employed, it’s a great opportunity to teach the boys a skill; even if he’s not, letting them learn alongside while he works on the car, fix the dryer, etc. will expose them to things they might really be gifted in or interested in. I remember when my older boys first went on the drywall job with Dad, they came back and started drawing plans for houses since they’d seen many house designs in their travels.
Learn from those you invite into your home. Find out what they do for a living and how they became interested in it, how they prepared, if they’d do it again if they had it to do over, etc. As you minister to others, widows, widowers, shut-ins, nursing home residents, young moms, families with new babies, families whose dads are out of work, visiting missionaries, etc, take your kids along with you. You’ll be training them to have a servant’s heart and how to be aware of the needs of others.
Academic learning is very important, but it’s not everything. One of the beauties of home education is that it gives your children time and exposure to learn in so many other ways than just sitting in a school room for most of the day! Learning is life experiences, learning from mistakes and successes, trying new things, exploring, observing, and so much more! Don’t be fooled into thinking that your homeschooling needs to follow the same pattern as school in the classroom setting. Instead, enjoy the freedom and opportunities that come with homeschooling by allowing your children to enjoy and savor these formative years by learning in all sorts of ways!