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April 18, 2011

Homeschooling Series Part 4: Life Learning

One of our favorite mottoes "LIFE IS LEARNING, LEARNING IS LIFE". Learning is so much more than just sitting down and studying some books. It happens all around us, all the time. And our challenge as home schooling parents is to keep an eye out for those opportunities and actually use those moments as teaching moments.

Right now we are hatching some chicken eggs in an incubator. We check the temps of the incubator all day long. We have candled the eggs to see if they are fertile. We have read and studied about incubators, how to pick and hatch eggs, parts of an egg, taking care of chicks.....the list is endless. And we anticipate HATCH DAY!  Our kids will probably remember forever most of the information they have learned about chickens because not only are they very interested, but they will be using putting this info into practice for many years to come. This is a tool that is going to equip them for life skills. And it is also teaching them the awesomeness of our wonderful Creator and the beauty of a new life.

Just in nature alone God has given us things to study, enough to last a life time! Keep a caterpillar and watch it turn into a moth or a butterfly. Keep a fish and study how it moves and swims and grows. Plant some seeds and learn about reproduction and growth of plants. Study about the amazing migration of birds in spring or fall.

If you keep your eyes and ears open and you will find something to study about. Listen to the questions your kids ask you....How does this work? Why does this do that? What does this look like? Kids are always asking questions, and when they do, take this as an opportunity to teach them. Not every question has to take days or weeks to cover. Sometimes it can take minutes! But if your child asks, then they are interested. And when you take the time to teach them the information, they will remember it, because it is something they want to know.

Watch your kids and take note of the things that they have talent for and are interested in and if you are able, provide the tools they need to learn these interests. Now we have to be careful here and not just on a whim buy everything our child needs when they show a little interest in something. I am more talking about things that they have proved that they will follow through with, not just some passing whim. It took years of Megan using our family camera and proving that she really wanted to learn more about photography before we purchased her first camera. Jennifer used our old clippers and dull scissors for many years before we started to buy her better tools for haircutting. Our girls had an older horse for years before we bought them their own horses. Our boys want a banjo and a bass guitar. It will be a little more challenging to know if they will follow through with this. But they do have an older guitar that I will give them lessons on to see if learning an instrument is something they will stick to. They also like to build things and last year we gave them some wood that was lying around to build a tree house. Seeing the great job they did, we will probably provide them with a little better wood on their next project. God has given each of our children a talent(s) and we can use homeschooling to develop those talents! And what joy and satisfaction to know that this will not be information that will just go in one ear and out the other, but it will benefit them for years to come. That is real learning.

So, you ask, does this mean that you see no place for text book work? No, I am not saying that at all. I think that text book work has a time and a place and can be a valuable tool to teach problem solving, persistence and thinking skills. But what I am saying is I believe a major part of learning happens outside text books.

Our purpose to home school is to equip our children for whatever path God has in store for them. And as I mentioned last post, we do not believe that this will be done only through text books. This will be done through life learning.

When we think of teaching our children we think of so much more than just the hours that we sit down and do school with them. It happens all around us all the time whether we like it or not. Our children are always learning. From wee little they learn.

We have 5 daughters. The older three are almost through the school of learning how to run a household. They have learned to cook, bake, do laundry, take care of babies and children, gardening, keep a home clean and comfortable, teach. These are the practical, hands-on things. But more importantly they have learned the heart things, love, joy, patience, peace, self-control, gentleness, grace, forgiveness, kindness, submission & obedience. Knowing that our daughters have learned (and are still learning) these things gives us confidence that they will be well equipped for the path that God has for them. And our youngest 2 daughters will learn the same things, and already have from watching their mama and 3 big sisters!

We have 7 sons. One is already married and is a wonderful husband and daddy. 4 of our boys range in age from 12-7. These four are under serious training right now. Some of the things they are learning are animal management, providing food for the family, creating, fixing, building, cleaning up after themselves, & yard care. Again, practical hands on things but not worth much unless they are also learning these heart things and more…servant hood, leadership, forgiveness, endurance, humility, obedience, thankfulness, perseverance and grace. As much as they have learned in these areas, they are still learning them every day and we know that this training will equip them for the path that God has for them to walk on. And our 2 little guys (2 & 8 ½ ) months are on the beginning of this journey, mostly working on obedience right now!

And this is what we believe a major part of learning is. It’s not all about algebra, calculus, physics, chemistry or fractions. It’s also and most importantly about the issues of the our heart and learning what is important to the heart of God.

Most of our schooling is life training. And to tell you the truth sometimes all the "other stuff" gets in the way. It clouds my vision of what is important to teach our kids in a day. I sometimes brush off those impromptu teaching/character training moments because I am busy with the "text". I get caught up in the ABC's of education rather than the truths of God's Word. I let the world's idea of education and learning dictate the way we do school. I need to keep my focus on God and what He requires of me as we teach our children.

Our goal as we home school is to have children who will never graduate. Because they have developed a love for learning they will continue to want to learn all of their life. That they will always be learning because they are not afraid to ask questions.  And most importantly, that they will always have desire to learn more about God and grow ever closer to Him.

We don't just want to raise children that made it through text book work. We want children that have learned the things that will equip them for life. That they will know how to think things through and solve problems that they encounter.  That they will tackle a challenge (physically or spiritually) head on. That when trials and trouble come their way, they will not crumble, but rather stand firm. That they will be able to get along with all kinds of people with all kinds of personalities and be able to love as Jesus loves. That the fruits of the Spirit will be evident in their lives.

What a wonderful opportunity we have in home schooling our children. What a joy to spend all of our days with them and to be able to teach them life skills, recognize the talents that God has placed in them, being there to answer their questions and teach in these moments of genuine interest, train them in Godly character and most importantly to teach them what God desires of them and to teach them to follow Him all the days of their lives. I love home schooling :)

For the next homeschooling post(s) I would like to talk about what you would like to read about. So if you have a topic/question you would like me to cover, leave a comment and I will be happy to do that in the coming post.


Living In His Blessings said...

Great post! I really like the part about our children never graduating.I think it so important that they are always open to learn more as life will always come up with new challenges. They won't always be able to solve those prolems text-book style. All around it was wonderfully put into words.

Jessica Heights said...

This is such a great approach! :) We also want our kids to be ready for LIFE...not just the next "grade level!"

The Mayo Family said...

Enjoying it so much...
So well put & yes, may they always be "learning" what really matters & is important!
The "HEART" of the matter...With Christ! :)
For me...Hum, I would like encouragement & insight to over look all the comments on...
"Where is lil-Jonny with math- etc"? You know when a family has un-saved family & all & are wondering if... "our children"
Are up-to date with the rest ie grades and all? Do you know what I mean? This type of added pressure!Blessings~

Clarissa said...

I have been enjoying your homeschooling series posts! I agree wholeheartedly with your way of "teaching"/raising children!

Débora said...

thank you for your posts on homeschooling this is great help!