Last post I told you about 10 things I would do differently, right from the start of homeschooling my children if I had the opportunity to do it over again.
This time, I want to share with you these 10 things I would absolutely do over again- just maybe MORE so!
- Study my child to learn their passions, desires, what inspires them, what discourages them and teach accordingly. Plan what I see my child as needing to study, not some prescribed program.
I certainly didn’t start my homeschooling this way, but it wasn’t too long before it was clear to me that each child had unique strengths and compelling interests. It became a delight for me to see those passions develop and seek to provide them with tools, materials, animals sometimes to let them explore those areas of interest. I found that as one child passionately pursued their area of interest, we all learned and grew with them. From keeping rabbits, to building bookcases, to raising guppies, to being involved in civics, to photography, etc etc. our family learned right along with the one who was so interested in the topic.
- Listen to and ask for their input on how they learn best or which curriculum to choose
Some curriculum that worked well for most of my 14 kids, was horrible for some of the others. Kids think and process information differently. There isn’t a cookie cutter way to teach that fits everyone. I learned so much when I asked my kids who were struggling with a subject, how they could learn better, how I could teach better. It moved us more “out of the box” but it worked. Do what works. It doesn’t matter how they teach it in school! If your child is more invested in what curriculum he uses, he’ll try harder to learn.
- Let them explore their interests and passions
I could write a book on interests my kids explored! Sometimes they were wildly interested in something for a short time and then moved on to something else. That’s ok. They are exposed to more things that way. Sometimes their interest lasted years or into adult-hood. That’s fine too. God gives us those desires to learn and explore. Use them. Don’t squelch them. Some of the things my kids were interested in: genetics, garden ponds, bird houses building, rabbits, chickens, photography, writing, politics, history, building bookcases, fixing things that break, wildflowers, baking, candy making, etc etc.
- Cut down on busy work, realizing that it motivates a child to see an end to the lesson and more time to explore areas of interest
It really doesn’t matter which curriculum you use. It’s probably got too much busy work! So cut down on the number of problems/sentences etc. You don’t have to eliminate any concepts, just the amount you require your student to do. I found that it was counter-productive to bury them in excess exercises. When they see an end to it, they’ll apply themselves better to learn it. When they are done, they have free time to explore what they are passionate about.
- Find ways to serve others, teaching by example how to develop a servant’s heart
Don’t limit your kids to kids their own age! Take your kids by the hand and show them by example how to seek out the needs others may have and meet any needs you can. Sometimes the need is as simple as hug in church each week, a friendly visit, a trip out to lunch or for ice cream, an encouraging note, a visit, a thoughtful gift, cleaning gutters or raking a yard. I can’t over- emphasize the importance of training your kids to hunt for ways to be a blessing to others. If it’s a lifestyle as a child, it will stick with them when they are adults. It’s God’s way to seek to serve rather than expect to be served.
- Be creative with “subjects” taught
Instead of pointless exercises to learn a skill…like hand handwriting, for example, let your kids write something that matters: a letter to the editor, a note to encourage a lonely person, starting a recipe collection for future use, family history. Find something that makes a difference and substitute that for simply writing exercises to practice handwriting. If your child is passionate about medicine, let them do first aid, human anatomy, whatever interests them for science. Don’t be stuck in the government school rut.
- Encourage my child to try new things. Some they won’t like, sometimes they’ll find new passions
On library trips, I had my kids pick out a biography, book on science topic, book on history, a how to book, etc . to expose them to things they might not otherwise think about. Take them on field trips as a family. Find out the history of your city or area of the country. Go on a missions trip.
- Focus on character building and instilling God’s Word in their hearts
This is the MOST important thing you can do AND the easiest to never get around to unless you make it a priority. We intentionally did this and I’ve never regretted it. Character is simply the traits of Christ. Study it in the Bible. Hide God’s Word in their hearts and in your heart as you learn with them. We offer many practical helps to give you a jump start.
- Making time for fun things. Looking for ways to teach so they don’t even realize they are learning.
“Plant” a book in your home that the kids just might pick up and read. Fill your home with valuable learning tools, books, puzzles, supplies, audios. If you can make learning fun you are building a launching pad for life.
- Stay home more often than not. It’s hard to effectively home school when you are never home.
It’s so easy to get over-committed to so many “good” things. But if you are doing too much, it becomes hard for your kids to focus on what’s really important. Be home. Enjoy each other. Build some special memories. There are so many opportunities today to involve your kids in, but beware! Time together learning and growing as a family is precious. Don’t throw it away, don’t crowd it out. I love what my son Matt told me a few years ago. He was telling me why he was glad he was homeschooled. He said , “I got to really know my family instead of just meeting up with them in the evening.” That says so much. Be together. Time is short. Life is short. Make the most of each moment.