How we educate our kids will be guided by how we view education. What does it mean to be educated? What is the best way to teach, to learn? Most of us who grew up in a traditional classroom fall back on certain resources and methods; they are familiar, and they've been used by most schools for the last century, give or take a decade, so if it ain't broke. . .right?
But what if it is broke? What if the way we've done school for all these years has done more to starve ourselves and our children of a balanced education than it has to nourish minds and hearts?
Think about how you felt about school as a child, and how you view learning now ~
- Are you curious about the world?
- Do you love to read?
- Are you afraid to try new things?
- Do you possess well-rounded knowledge on a variety of subjects?
- If you don't know how to do something, how difficult is it for you to figure it out? And do you even try?
In my experience, school wasn't what I'd call a nourishing part of my childhood. It was something to endure and survive. In spite of nice friends and caring teachers, school was work that needed done, just like choking down steamed broccoli at dinner.
"Eat it, it's good for you, and you aren't getting up from the table until it's all gone."
While this might be necessary in order to get kids to eat some greens, it doesn't sound like a great recipe for inspiring students to learn, and to give them a foundation for learning for the rest of their lives.
When we look at our schools and homeschools, sometimes we panic, worrying if our kids are learning everything they need. So instead of evaluating our learning environment, our resources, and our methods to see if they are providing a well-balanced education, we start looking for academic 'vitamins' to make sure we provide enough servings from the school pyramid. And what's worse is when we start shoving them down their throats.
Vitamins and supplements are great and have their uses, but they can't substitute for real food. Food is
- an experience
- a pleasure
- a connection
There is no reason that education can't have those same associations.
Kids need to get their hands into things, to experience the thrill of discovery and learn by doing. Once they have felt the pleasure of solving a mystery or learning a skill, they will want that feeling again and again. When mom and dad and siblings are part of those experiences, they become wonderful family bonds and memories. Confidence comes when a student realizes their ability to locate necessary information and figure things out on their own. They know that in the future, when faced with an unfamiliar task or topic, they are equipped with the tools to get it done.
The question that inevitably comes up, though, is "What do I do when my kids don't want to do school?"
Well, what do you do when they don't want to eat? And how likely are they to literally starve to death?
It isn't that they don't want to eat, it's that they don't want to eat what is in front of them. They are often scared because it's new, it's smelly, they've been sick before and don't want to feel that way again, and they've heard that anything green is HORRIBLE.
Part of our job as parents is to deal with these fears and preconceived notions about what is and isn't learning. Kids love to hear stories, they love to create, and they love to satisfy their curiosity.What about those activities isn't essential to learning?
Have you ever hidden veggies in a dish you knew your kids loved?
We've too often allowed unpleasant associations to be formed in our children's minds by sticking them in desks with workbooks, expecting them to sit still and be quiet even though they are in their own home, holding them up to arbitrary grade level standards, and comparing them to other kids their age. They can become so afraid of failure that they are afraid to even try.
Now those doubts and fears have to be rooted out so that they will 1) do school 2) eat something green.
Go back to the basics of home-cooked homeschool learning that offers kids nourishment of mind and body, and that warm feeling you get after a creamy bowl of macaroni and cheese.