Thursday, August 9, 2007

What Have I Learned, You Ask?

It is time for question #4 over at Randy's Back To Homeschool Week

Thursday, August 9---If I had only known...
What have you learned on your homeschooling journey? What would you/did you change?

I love this question. There are so many things that I have learned on this journey and I wish I had known all those years ago.

1. They don’t need to know it all in Kindergarten. K should be a year to gently introduce them to learning. This year is for letters and numbers and finger painting and noticing nature and reading some of the really great picture books that are out there. If you try to pack everything they need to know into the K year, your going to kill their love of learning before it even has a chance to blossom.

2. Learning rarely takes place on paper in the early years. I think all workbooks should be banned from the desks of anyone under third grade! (I have no strong opinions on this topic :o) So much more can be learned from copying sentences from great picture books and reading great picture books and talking about great picture books. So much of learning is relational in those early years. It kills me that I put my first in front of so many workbooks when really what he needed was to touch, taste, see and talk to me about everything.

3. The whole world is my classroom. On vacation this year we learned so many things about the flora and fauna of CO, just by buying a few field guides and looking things up on our walks. They also learned so much about map skills because sometimes one of the kids would sit in the front seat and navigate for Daddy. There are things to be learned everywhere, even on vacation.

4. When you see a budding interest or talent pay attention and fuel it. We have noticed recently that G has taken some great photos that are creative. He now has a used (but once very expensive) camera with all the bells and whistles for him try his hat at photography. He may never do anything other than have photography as a hobby, but who knows, It might become his profession. Even thought I am not an artist two of my kids are, so I try to keep supplied in water colors and special pencils and sketch pads and special paper. I want them to have the time and materials to discover who God wants them to be.

5. This one is big for me…It is okay to ask for help. This job we do is hard and time consuming and draining. We are not bad parents because our kids are struggling. I waited so long to seek help for G’s dyslexia because I felt like such a failure. He was the first child I taught to read (B was in a private K where he learned to read) and I was failing, big time! We worked from the time he was 4 until he was 10 before I finally sought help. Once he was diagnosed with dyslexia we could get him the help he needed. I did not wait so long with A. Also, B and I don’t speak the same language mathematically. I can remember one day spending hours with him trying to explain a concept in his Pre Algebra book. He just did not understand. I told him to sit down with his Dad tonight and see if D could explain it to him. I listened to D explain it and what D said made NO sense to me, but B went OH! Now I get it. That is when I knew I needed to seek help. We got him an algebra teacher. She is more than just a tutor, she handles ALL his algebra, she sets the schedule, she administers the tests, and she chose the curriculum. All I do is check the answers on his homework and pay the bill. I LOVE it.

6. I try to remember that I am not going to be able to teach them everything there is to know. And really, that is not my job. My job is to teach them the basis of course, but really, it is to teach them how to learn. I can’t possibly teach them everything, but I can give them a love for learning and an aptitude for figuring it out. I can’t teach them every fact, but I can teach then how to find the answer.

7. I think my most important job is teaching them to follow Christ. Teaching them to develop a relationship with Christ apart from me. I am not always going to be there and they need to have Christ the center of their lives.

8. Social skills and relationships are just as important as the academics. If my kids are brilliant but can’t get along with others they will not do well in the work force. It will be hard for God to use them if they don’t have empathy for others. I guess what I mean is that my kids won’t live on an island. They will have to relate to people who don’t think like they do, who might even be apposed to the way they think, they must know how to deal with this. Homeschooling is great, but if they get out there and don’t know how to shine in a dark world, I have not done my job. It is easy to protect them and not let them see how dark the world is and I think this is appropriate to a point, but as my boys are becoming young men, I see the importance of teaching them how to stand strong, while being a beacon of light that draws others out of this dark world.

9. Use what works and throw out what doesn’t. This seems a simple concept, but it took me years to learn this. I am the authority on my kids, not the curriculum company. If it ceases to be useful, don’t torture your kids! Find something else. And that old adage is so true…just because it works with one student does not mean it will work with another. Find what works for each kid. (Of course it must work for the teacher too or you will give up on it. All you have to do is look at all the hands on activity boxes that are sitting on my shelf unopened, to see what I mean. I know the kids would love it, but because hand’s on drives me nuts, we don’t ever seem to get to it.)

10. Okay, this is the most cliché, but…enjoy the process as much as you can. I am looking ahead to next year and realizing that my oldest will be taking almost all of his classes at the Community College under the Duel Credit program. My years of being his teacher are coming to a swift end. I wish I’d enjoyed it more and worried less.


randi---i have to say said...

My 2nd is going to the Comm. College this year and I just can't believe it! These years go by amazingly fast and I do wish that I had a chance to go back and appreciate them more!

Lawanda said...

Your last sentence hits home big time!! Great post :)

Our Family of Five said...

" I think all workbooks should be banned from the desks of anyone under third grade!".........I wholeheartedly agree. Especially being the mother of boys, workbooks are a sure-fire way to make a little boy hate school! God Bless.