Depending upon your State's requirements for homeschooling, you more than likely are given a minimum number of “hours” to spend with your “student.” When you are an unschooling parent, or practice a free style of home education, then you might be worried about how to comply with that requirement. Not eveyone does formal schoolish lessons, but everyone DOES teach their children, whether it is a planned activity or spontaneous one!
While it is a good thing to have a plan in place, it is important to remember that “life happens,” and sometimes a homeschooling Mom might feel she is floundering in the area of fulfilling the minimum time spent with her kids, if she isn't doing a pre-packaged curriculum.
I'd like to help you see that even if you are not doing X number of hours of “seat work” with your children, that daily life skills and teachable moments will add up to a personalized home-educational “curriculum.”
First off, in the younger years, time spent with Mom reading, learning letters and numbers are natural means to teach and learn important concepts, in context. Each day that you spend time reading your Bible, praying, and imparting scriptural wisdom to your children, you are redeeming the time. Other daily tasks that are also necessary are counting forks for dinner or the cans as you put away the groceries, matching the socks and folding laundry which are done together with the children are just some of the things we can call teaching tasks. While doing these tasks, you are communicating concepts, teaching reasoning and learning labels together.
TALK to your child while working together. This is natural! You don't have to do artificial “school” to teach what is needed. You don't have to lecture, workbooks are not mandatory….although they can be fun and useful too….and texbooks should be used if you need them. Let the textbooks be useful to you, and not allow it to use you.
When your children are young, let them help you do the laundry, (you are training them to be future homemakers and responsible adults) and the best way to teach them is by showing them and talking to them while you are showing them! New skills are learned by working together. This also helps grow your relationship, which I believe is the most important benefit of home educating.
If your children are not yet readers, read to them, read to them, and read some more! You already know this: let them see YOU reading for enjoyment, for information and for edification. Don't let them read trash. Garbage in, garbage out. If you don't know if it is garbage, look for online reviews or ask trusted friends. Not all that glitters is gold, and the most popular kids books are usually not popular because they are good; they are popular because they are mainstream trash. The good ones have to mined out of the mountains of fool's gold.
So let's talk about your day. Say you just took my advice and started your day with the Lord–did the important thing first. After reading your Bible and praying with the children, you made breakfast together, did the laundry together, learned some sorting and some mechanics (how do you turn on the washing machine?) and you have read several books. Wow, the whole morning just zoomed past and you spent three hours side-by-side with your kids.
Were they learning? Yes!
Is it school? No, it's home. Home Education.
Next week we will talk about some more ways to show you how natural (sometimes mundane, but often exciting) every-day-learning is Home Education. You don't have to copy the local institution in order to learn at home.
Follow your heart; not the typical “first grade course of study.”
Originally posted on HSB on October 5, 2006