March 26, 2010

Home School- My Philosophy

In order for you to understand my answers to many of your questions, about how we schedule our day and the curriculum we use, how we make it all work and still find time for fun, first you must understand my approach to home school.

There are several ways to go at it.  You will find those who favor classical education and the unschoolers plus everything in between.  The truth be known, even though I tried many approaches that worked for other families, none of those seemed like the right thing for our family.  The first step to a happy home school is to learn, above all, home school is about what works for your child and family.  If you miss that then you've missed the whole boat.  In trying to define our home school I had to determine first, what didn't work for us.  Lesson plans, schedules and goals were it.  Those things instantly set us up for failure.

I am goal oriented and by writing out lesson plans and to do lists ahead of time, I found I quickly became stressed and unpleasant when things went off track and I couldn't stick to the plan.  I became a slave to the schedule and felt like a failure at the end of the day when I didn't accomplish what I had set out to do.  When you are home schooling you will rarely accomplish all you set out to do in the way of school or household duties.  That meant that most days I was discouraged by the time we put our lessons away.  With my attitude of defeat the children, also felt like they had not succeeded and school became a task that none of us wanted to face in the morning.

Learning is fun.  Learning should be fun.  I wanted it to be fun.  Trying to fit our family into the mold that I had to work with, that is the traditional school model, set us up for anything but fun.  I had to learn how to break away from what I had experienced, as to what school should be, in order to bring joy to our education.  I really believe that these formative years should not be about what the children learn so much as about teaching them to LOVE learning.  If we can instill that in them, rather than the common worldly attitude that school is a drag, they will go through their lives seeking to learn always and they will learn much more than if we dogmatically cram facts into their little heads.

An important step for me, was to really examine what my goals were for home schooling.  I mean what did I want my children to take away after the required 12 years of education.  It wasn't facts and numbers.  I had all that when I graduated and yet had little in all of it to make my life successful.  I had been a straight A student through private grammar school and a straight A student in all honours classes through four years of public high school.  I maintained a 4.0 throughout college.  What the world regarded as successful did not help me out much when it came to honouring God or to practical living.  No, I decided what I really wanted my children to have in order to graduate was a love of God, a personal walk with Him, a love for learning, and close family ties.  The rest could iron out if they had those tools.

When you have seven children and you are trying to home school, it is nearly impossible to separate the home and the school parts.  Things rarely line up in their little compartments and there will always be something to spill over into your school time or your housework time.  There will always be a sick child, a move, a neighbor in need, a missing school book, appointments that must be kept.... something to interfere with carefully laid plans.  In becoming a home school mom, one must learn to combine the two.  It will take some experimenting to find a balance that works for you but keeping your humor along the way, and a good stash of chocolate, will  help.  In a future post, I intend to share some secrets and tips that have helped us to find a way to make both home and school harmonious for the Wachter clan.

Funny as it may sound, when I finally threw out all plans and just began to enjoy the learning, my kids came to love school, ask for school when we weren't doing it and we accomplished more than I ever thought possible.  Not that schedules and planning can not work for some.  I have heard from many who say that getting on a schedule was the turning point for them.  For me though, my happy home school started when I decided that I was not going to write what I wanted to do in my lesson plan book, but instead give my day and home school over to the Lord, and then write in what we had completed.  At the end of a session I no longer sadly looked at boxes of assignments that weren't completed because the baby was teething and I didn't get to it, but instead was able to look and see that we read the Bible together, practiced counting while we laid out silverware at lunch and read words aloud from our reader while I folded laundry.  Not a bad day considering I had I had to run and visit a sick friend in the hospital and take a phone call from my Aunt.

Maybe you have just one child and you can sit at the table and focus just on school 5 days a week for the allotted time 180 days a year.  I have never had such a luxury.  And I am not sure that is really what home schooling is about.  When we set out on this journey, I knew I did not want our life to be about school.  I wanted school to be part of our life.  There are months that we try to dedicate to more intense learning, to really focus on the essentials, but as a general rule I try to find ways that learning is part of our everyday routine, just as I try to keep God in everything we do.  The best kind of teaching is when you slip it in there in such a way that no one notices they've been doing school.

So, sometimes learning happens in a neat and orderly way at the school table.  Sometimes, it happens at the dinner table. Sometimes it happens in the car.  Or under the tree in the back yard.  Perhaps as we go about our chores.  But in becoming a home schooler the key to remember is that learning is always happening, it just may not be in the way you were expecting.

For now I will leave you with this.







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5 comments :

  1. What a well said post. You summarized everything in my heart. I wish my extended family members could read this. Their thinking is, is that if they're not in public school they're not learning. It couldn't be more the opposite! They ask what did you do today in school? When my kids answer them, it never seems good enough for them. Learning doesn't have a schedule, it's always an opportunity. It's amazing what we're all learning together :) Lovely post!! Thank you! Blessings to you! ~Amy

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  2. I loved this.. I am going to share this post with some other new-to-homeschooling moms!!

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  3. Great post. I'm one that has to lean more towards a schedule or nothing gets done! But then again, we have learned more about animals and plants by having them and being physically involved than if we had just read about them in books. Hmm...maybe I'm somewhere in between.

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  4. Great explanation. Your homeschooling life sounds much like mine. We did the best over the years AFTER I learned to go with the flow and write it down AFTERWARDS!

    Hope you guys are doing well.
    Hugs, andrea

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  5. Thank you for writing this! I really appreciated reading it! It makes me less afraid to homeschool! I am horrible with schedules, they stress me out and I can't help but be afraid of a rigorous routine. It's nice to know it doesn't have to be that way. The thought of making learning a fun part of life instead of a 5 hour chore is a much better concept!

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