Over the years of my homeschooling journey I’ve met so many other parents also homeschooling. In the last year that number of other homeschooling parents has multiplied exponentially through social media. As the numbers rise so too does my realization of how many ways there are to successfully homeschool.
In the past, when I homeschooled other (non-related) students I often toted a saying that if I couldn’t get their learning done within a 6 hour span per day than I was doing something wrong. I always told my other student’s parents that I wanted them to go home, run around, enjoy free time, explore, have adventures, read, etc.
My own model for schooling has changed in twelve years. I still want my kids to learn well, and have time for adventures, reading, and enjoying their free time – but I’ve made a discovery I wasn’t expecting. My kids need some homeschool “homework”.
My middle son needs to learn his multiplication facts and was waiting for me to surgically implant them. His homeschool “homework” is to learn them on his own now. Having taken the reins of learning into my own hands and offering him songs, dances, games, handwritten worksheets, story associations, etc. only lead this child to think that it was my responsibility for him to learn anything I wanted him to learn. Now, this isn’t the homework we think of in the traditional sense – but since we are the homeschooling teachers our homework is going to look a little differently.
My oldest daughter also had the same misconception that her learning was completely my responsibility. It was my job to assign it, my job to get her to understand it, my job to make her remember it, and my job to make her do it…. however she was going to pitch a fit every time something challenging came up and complain that my work load for her was ridiculous. What was a mother to do with her nearly 16 year old…. give her homeschool “homework!” Since this child liked to get in a dither every time she had a question, and challenge my authority whenever she struggled to even like the subject – I took myself out of the he equation. I made her set up the course of action for the second semester and banned her to her room. Taking myself out of the equation was a necessary step in weaning her from the shift in blame game and the lack of interest in her own learning process. The homework she is doing now is her basic school work. She sits in her room working on learning subjects she otherwise felt I should somehow insert into her brain without any of her efforts. Now she comes to me with legitimate questions and is actually looking for help – not an argument of a pseudo opportunity to prove the work is “too hard” (in a very whiny voice).
One of my schooling children detested anything that took him away from playing outside, with cardboard boxes, etc. It felt like I had a full time job just sitting on this kid to keep him working. Even the Montessori projects that enabled lots of movement and exploration were unappreciated and lacked the luster I always thought they’d have for kids and I was still sitting on this kid to make him work and learn. EXHAUSTING!!! When my schedule changed this year and I had meetings every Tuesday morning, this nearly 9 year old suddenly needed to sit quietly off to the side and not disturb the meeting. I packed up a few workbooks with mapping skills, math, grammar, and handwriting and then told him to complete every page I had tagged before the meeting was over and he’d be allowed to skip his reading and spelling for the day. While we are not talking about an actual home location for this homeschool “homework” this boy of mine has learned to work silently and diligently when I was sure it was an impossibility!!!
As I make school plans for each week for my son and answer questions without the drama from my daughter I can sit back and marvel at how much this older homeschooling mother has learned. I realize that what I’m referring to is not the natural idea of “homework.” The concept of homework for homeschoolers is really about having children learn something and then work on their own to practice and secure what they’ve learned is the same. The responsibility being put in their own hands has offered them more of an education than the material itself and I am so glad for all the other homeschooling parents I’ve met along the way who have helped reshape the way I provide a well-balanced homeschooling education.
Lisa Blauvelt (with her family and three dogs, two cats, a horse, pony, donkey, two red eared turtles, a fluctuating number of tadpoles and baby fish, and various other creatures collected by her adventurous boys) puts her education degrees to work at her home in the Deep South. There she teaches not only her own children, but others who come to her home to learn. Her decade long experience in teaching children to read will soon be published as a 476 page guide for parents.