Editor’s Note: Over the past pandemic year, parents have been involuntarily thrust into schooling at home. Many have chosen to continue educating at home voluntarily as they have watched government schools failing their children. During this time, many veteran homeschoolers have stepped up, offering advice and resources to these families. Gina Prosch is a homeschool life coach (and parent) who has been a frequent guest on Austin Petersen’s KWOS Morning Show. We are pleased to welcome her as a contributor to TLR, and hope this will be one more resource to help and encourage you. As someone who has always educated my daughters at home (or wherever we are), I will be the first to say that homeschooling may not be for everyone. But YOU know what is best for your child and that choice should be yours. You can do this. – Camellia
Homeschool is just that. It’s home and school. It should sound ideal. All the comforts of home. With all the benefits of education—the exploring, the discoveries, the flourishing.
Instead, for many families it sounds like stress. Lots and lots of stress.
It doesn’t have to. You can make the flourishing happen. You can kick the stress to the curb. The trick is to let your children take ownership in their own education. Put them in charge and see what happens.
Does that sound crazy? Maybe. But consider this. Is it any more crazy than working overtime to replicate a school setting in your home, complete with miniature desks, homework assignments, and rigorous schedules? If you’re not sending your kids to school “out there,” clearly a traditional school environment isn’t, for whatever reason, meeting your family’s needs. Why break your neck trying to turn your basement family room into an in-home remake of a public school classroom?
Instead, spend your time exploring one of the primary benefits of homeschooling—tailor make an education based on your kids’ interests. Foster their love of learning and curiosity about the world. Radically re-envision what educating children looks like. You can do it.
First—ask your kids what they want to learn about this year. Find out what truly interests them, not what they’ve been told they need to know. What subjects have they have always wanted explore and learn more about?
Second—listen with integrity. When you grant your children liberty and agency in their education, as a parent it’s your job to listen to them, to really hear them, and then act on what they’re saying. If your kindergartener is passionate about trains, then study trains. If your third-grade son wants to learn about the stars, then study astronomy. If your ninth grade daughter is obsessed with fashion, then study fashion.
You’ll soon see that learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Third—integrate their interests into the curriculum. Trains can be counted, which means they’re math. The Little Engine that Could is reading. Making a miniature steam engine is science, and learning about how trains changed the world is history. The same pattern of interconnectedness works for astronomy—and even fashion.
When your sixth grader wants to learn sew, buy her a sewing machine and fabric. She’ll soon be a whiz at fractions. Then when that same young woman is in high school and wants to start an Etsy shop featuring her clothing designs, you’ll help her start her own small business!
Homeschool parents quickly realize the challenge they face isn’t so much being a teacher (because heaven knows we don’t know everything) as it is being a facilitator or mentor helping kids figure out how they can learn what they want to learn and become their most authentic selves.
Convey the idea that education is not about pleasing an authority (be it mom and dad, or the government). It’s about your student’s life–with all the responsibilities and consequences. It’s a first-class ticket to independence, autonomy, and emotional flourishing—first as small children, then as teenagers, and eventually as adults who are comfortable living and working in the world, interacting with people of all ages.
Will your homeschool kid’s education look like a traditional education? I certainly hope not. Will there be holes in their education? Undoubtedly. (There were definitely holes in my public high school education.)
Allowing kids active agency in their education plays into the boundless curiosity all children have. Nurture that curiosity throughout their at-home education, and they will remain curious throughout their lives. They’ll be armed with the knowledge that they can teach themselves (or find someone to teach them) what they want to learn or need to know.
And—most importantly—they’ll be ready to meet the world head-on, filled with passion and accountability.
Gina Prosch educates her children at home in Mid-Missouri. She is also a homeschool life coach (and parent) who blogs and shares homeschool resources at www.TheHomeschoolWay.com. She is also the co-host of The OnlySchoolers Podcast.