I mentioned our top three goals for our homeschool yesterday and I will reiterate those again:
As we planned out our homeschool lifestyle, these are the goals or mission my husband and I agreed upon. Of course, you can’t really force any of these things. Modeling all three and encouraging each as much as you can is a great path forward. Make sure they have the skills needed to learn. If you love to learn — chances are good your kids will eventually catch the spirit of it. They might not love the same things you love learning about — you need to help each child find something(s) they can be passionate about. With the skills to learn anything and the passion for a particular subject, the spark will light.
Model the Love of Learning
I was chatting with a good friend on Facebook last night, and it came up that I am taking a couple of classes right now. I said, “You know me, I love to learn.” And it is true. I just want to absorb as much as I can in my current passion. It got me thinking though — do my kids realize why I am studying? Do they know that I love what I am doing when I watch the videos and listen to the seminars? They probably think it is pretty boring stuff. What about in the area of spiritual development — do they know how much I love going to Bible study? Does it seem like a drudgery as I rush to get out the door? Attitude is key here — I need to be more aware of how my children perceive my learning habits. I need to share more about what I am learning and why.
Make Sure they have the Skills to Learn
Reading is the most obvious skill needed for learning, and I have heard it said that a good reader can teach himself anything. And that is probably true even if we ignore mathematics — but what if you child could be a fantastic mathematician? We decided early on that critical thinking skills needed to be high on our course list. Building blocks, pattern blocks, visual spacial skills, critical thinking puzzles — those are all foundational skills for learning too. Older children can use critical thinking books to develop those skills even further. Physical fitness is another key foundation for learning. It’s not one people think of though. If your child doesn’t have the core strength to sit and read or write for long periods, they will struggle with learning. Furthermore, if they decide to get passionate about basketball in 6th grade, they need a strong physical foundation. Another foundational skill is play. Make sure your child gets plenty of time to play!
Help Your Child Find a Passion
Notice your child’s strengths. We noticed that my oldest daughter had an artistic bent at a young age, but we resisted the urge to push her into art classes. We made sure she had plenty of exposure to art and drawing, music and dance. For several years, she was so passionate about ballet that everything else took a back seat. But her artistic bent did not disappear — it is one of her strengths.
Expose your child to the possibilities, and help them explore! I’m not suggesting you have your child start private lessons on six different instruments or any other expensive solution. You can have them experiment with different instruments if you can find a good music store nearby. If they have no interest in music, the same can hold true for sports, or other topics of interest. Experiment with different possibilities until they find something they enjoy and want to dive into. Once Clara decided ballet was not for her, we started looking for a new outlet and gently making suggestions. At the beginning of the school year, my husband purchased her a book about drawing, a pencil set, and a couple of sketch books. My oldest daughter has developed a passion for drawing.
Provide Opportunities to Develop the Passion
Once your child develops an interest, its important to follow up and capitalize on the learning opportunities. Don’t put off that trip to the library if your six-year-old is suddenly asking a thousand questions about Great White Sharks. If your child is crazy about birds (as one of mine is) it is probably a good time to throw some bird seed around, hang up a feeder, or fix up a watering spot. If your child wants to draw everything in sight (as one of mine does) it might be a good time to get a computer-aided drawing tablet and introduce them to the world of graphic artistry. If your child is passionate about Tae Kwon Do (as one of mine is), do what you can to get the child lessons.