“It then dawned on me I was trying to replicate school at home- a classroom setting in my daughter’s bedroom- and it was not working.”
I have been homeschooling my children for over 10 years. My oldest is on her last year of high school and my youngest is in 3rd grade.
When I first started homeschooling, it wasn’t too much fun. I bought the best curriculum there was for homeschoolers and I made my poor daughter sit still all day, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., pouring over her long list of boring subjects. But that’s how it had to be done! I wanted to be sure she was learning and that she was not “falling behind”.
Well, needless to say that didn’t last very long. She was not learning and I was frustrated. I spoke to my husband and told him about my fear that our daughter was “falling behind”. He just asked: “sweetheart, falling behind what?” It then dawned on me I was trying to replicate school at home- a classroom setting in my daughter’s bedroom- and it was not working. So we put the expensive curriculum away and began having a little more fun. We read books, went to parks, started traveling more.
I used all these situations to teach my daughter while popping out babies for the next three years. Of course we sat to do math, but even that was different now. We played number games and learned the times tables through videos and songs… together! Cooking and baking afforded many math lessons as we measured ingredients and asked a simple question: What’s more, a half of a cup or a fourth of a cup? My daughter soon learned the importance of having her math right when baking, after having to eat a few less than perfect desserts or throw away a totally flopped recipe.
Gardening took us into a vast world of botany and science. My husband started teaching history, theology and drawing, which are the subjects he likes and the children loved being taught by their father. Soon different talents and abilities started emerging in each child and we, the parents, started recognizing those. The longer one spends with another person the more one gets to know him/her. That was naturally happening with our kids. One is an artist, the other is a book worm/historian, the one girl is a great cook and the other likes to play outside all day, though that never happens, bless her heart!
The point is that teaching and learning happens by the fact we are humans. Humans have an inquisitive mind which in the majority of cases wants to learn how, when, where, which kind, how many, what and why. Some of these things we learn from asking people questions and some from books, yet others we learn from experience or experimentation and later in life by “Googling it”. It takes some people longer than others to learn a particular concept and there are myriads of ways to teach a concept. So there are infinite opportunities for teaching and for learning every day, everywhere.
Today I taught my 8 and 9 year-olds about propagating trees and herbs. These girls were absorbing these gardening lessons like sponges. With their gloves on and a spade in hand, they avidly filled the biodegradable pots with a mixture of soil, (we brought in from our garden) small stones and rooting hormone powder, which would house Rosemary and Lemon Verbena cuttings until the Spring, when we will put the pots straight into the ground as the weather will then be suitable for the plants to grow outside. They learned the meaning of words like propagating and cultivating, plant cutting and rooting hormone. They learned the reason for mixing small stones in the soil is to allow for proper water drainage and how without this plants will drown, like people, when they are trapped underwater. They learned that cuttings destined for the garden do not have to be grown in water which lacks many of the nutrients they need to thrive in the ground.
So, by and by in our family we are living, laughing, crying and learning together. One day these children will grow into young persons, who will grow into adults who will have to face a world full of triumph and disaster, happiness and sadness, loss and gain, and yes, even right and wrong; and the best gift I will have given them, after the knowledge of God, will be the gift of loving to learn!