For some fresh air in your homeschool, open the windows

The role of teacher often seems to be distant, and even adversarial to the average student. The teacher makes the Top Secret Lesson Plans using the mysterious Teacher's Editions which are always kept out of reach. Teachers exercise unquestioned authority over the student's education - awarding grades with either an indelible red pen or the more merciful bell curve - but either way, the student's fate is in their hands. Assignments are etched in stone, and deadlines carry with them all the dread the term implies. A parent who spent 12 years in the traditional classroom may be conditioned to act in this way in their role as homeschool teacher. There are the same sort of clearly drawn lines between teacher/parent and student/child - the same authority and actions on the part of the parent, the same passive compliance in the student.

And then the parent gets frustrated because their child doesn't seem to be motivated. Can I just say, "Duh?"

Breathe some fresh air into your homeschool by getting your kids involved in planning their own education. Open up those Teacher's Editions and give them the lesson plan books. Ask them what they'd like to learn, and how they'd like to learn it. Let them set their own goals and stand back in a supportive role while they find the pace that is right for them. Give them the answer key and scoring rubrics, and have them grade their own papers and give reports of their progress.

And how about that classroom? Does your child spend most of their learning time inside? Is there a defined education space in your home where notebooks, school books, and supplies are kept in neatly labeled rows? Do the kids immediately put their books away when 'school hours' are over?

Nothing wrong with being organized, but have you looked out the window lately? Let the sunshine in to your homeschool by taking the books outside and enjoying the warmer weather. Sit in the swing or spread a blanket on the grass and read together, or just look at the clouds, trees, birds, and other assorted critters, and talk about whatever.

Instead of your home using you, why not use your home as an educational tool? The kitchen is a place where physics and chemistry come alive at every meal. The living room can become the family library, where kids and parents can curl up in comfy chairs to read and discuss literature and history. Why not use the walls for maps, timelines, and the children's artwork? Who are we trying to impress anyway with our decorating skill? Let your kids know how important their education is to you by making their efforts and goals the centerpieces of your home.

Many of us have spent many years in the rigidity of the classroom, and it takes time to shake some of those ingrained habits off and learn to enjoy the education process. We've kept home and school separate for so long that we still tend to try to find ways to separate the messy learning stuff from the neat-as-a-pin homey stuff.

Any attempt to divide learning from the rest of life is an artificial one that causes frustration and confusion. Open the doors and windows and books, and reunite the elements of school and family in your homeschool.