Saturday, January 29, 2005

The ART of Homeschooling (T is for Training and Teaching)

This is the last in the series the ART of Homeschooling.

When I first began homeschooling it was a very mommy centered approach I am afraid to admit. I excelled in school and academics was a high priority. I picked things up easily and progressed rapidly. Math was my strength and I eventually graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Computer Science. I just assumed that my children would fit into that mold and we'd all get along just fine. Wrong. Through trials and many tears I realized that I could not school my children in a way that had worked for me.

This was all made very real to me one day in the early years, when I was teaching my daughter a math concept. I was growing increasingly impatient at her lack of understanding. Finally she responded in frustration, "Mom! You gotta get that I just don't get it!" I finally got it. School was not going to be the same for them as it was for me.

As a new homeschooler, I spent many hours pouring over catalogs deciding which curriculum would work for us. I read many books and went to many conventions. What was missing was a clear understanding of the goal. It's like taking a trip and planning all the stops with out knowing what the destination is. This worked for a while but as more children came of school age the distractions were greater and the achievements less obvious.

So back to the drawing board I went. Crying out to God, I asked HIM to show me how to teach these children HE gave me. I realized that I was using a very institutional model in a very non-insitutional setting and expecting my children to perform rather than learn.

As I studied God's word I realized I was giving them alot of knowledge but very little wisdom. Facts are wonderful to know but wisdom is using these facts wisely. Rushing through assignments for the sake of getting them done is not an education. I began to devote more time to training and less time in "formal teaching". Quickly, our home became much more relaxed with a more realistic pace.

I didn't stress if we didn't do math one day so we could catch up on laundry. I took time out to train the children in how to resolve conflict so that they weren't always running to me. Training and teaching became a part of family life not the center of family life. Academics didn't take over our lives any more it became a part of our lives.

I will explore teaching and training in further detail as this blog moves on. For now, however, let me just conclude with a statement my son made to a friend of mine when asked about what he learned in school. He replied, "School is life and life is school you never stop learning."

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