Even though it has been over thirty years since my family started homeschooling, I imagine we have some things in common.
If you have ever felt nervous about taking on this endeavor, let me assure you that I felt the same. I was very timid, initially, about making decisions. I was fearful that I would somehow ruin my kids.
What is true education?
As all homeschooling parents should, I took my responsibility very seriously. I thought of home education as school at home. I didn’t know there was any other way of considering it practically. I pictured my young children sitting quietly in our schoolroom with their hands folded on top of their little desks listening attentively as I eloquently imparted my wisdom to them. Now I laugh at how naive I was. I had a very narrow view of the how-to of education, and I understood very little of how a child’s brain develops or what it means to teach a child to think.
My experience was limited to twelve years in which the majority of learning time was spent seated at a desk. Because of that background, I assumed a desk was the best place to learn, and, therefore, found small desks for my children. I did not realize I was boxing them into a mode of learning which was unnatural for them. I had been forced to sit still in order to learn. What I did not know was that most children, especially young children and boys, need to move in order to be able to learn.
True education is about learning.
When you visualize a child learning, instead of seeing a child with pencil, paper, and books at a desk, picture them exploring outdoors, drawing maps or building dwelling places, designing costumes, reenacting historical scenes, working in the kitchen, interacting with peers and adults…the potential for learning is unlimited!
One size doesn’t fit all.
In my experience, everyone was expected to learn the same information in the same way and in the same amount of time. True learning must be individualized. I had to become a student of my children, studying them to know how they learned best, how they processed information into knowledge, and what interested them most. I watched for strengths and weaknesses, gifts and talents. And I learned how to allow my children to be different in the way they learned. The tutorial setting of home education can be a great advantage for your child.
A person is more than intellect.
My experience equated academics with education. Academics are important. Academics are not, however, the summation of education. It took some years for me to learn that educating the whole child was more than feeding his intellect. His body, his soul, and his spirit comprise a child. Therefore, his will, his emotions, his character, his conscience, his habits, his physical strength, his inner power, all require growth and education.
Learning is for a lifetime.
What a task! It is monumental. I knew I could not accomplish such responsibility on my own. I had to become totally dependent upon God to lead me, guide me, give me discernment, and direct my steps. God was faithful to lead me to resources and people who broadened my view of education and challenged my thinking. He will do this for you, too, if you are willing to learn. My educational experience was far too limiting for me to repeat it with my children. I had to become a learner myself—humble, teachable, hungry for more, tenacious, and determined, a lifelong learner. I had to believe that God would work in the lives of my children, yes, in our homeschool, but also in the many years of their lives after homeschooling.