Posts tagged " learning "

Keep It New and Exciting

September 15th, 2020 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting No Comment yet

Two weeks ago was our grandson’s first day of school. He isn’t a five-year-old starting kindergarten, but rather a fourteen-year-old beginning high school. As a homeschooler, he learned a great deal, but he never set foot in a formal school environment.

His parents were not compelled to send him; one of his older brothers is homeschooling high school and he could have taken that path as well. However, our daughter and son-in-law, in agreement with their son, thought that this school would be a perfect match and offer him a great deal.  It has been thrilling hearing his reactions. His excitement as he leaves for school each day (a day that runs from 7:45 am to 9:30 pm as it includes a great deal of Torah study) is a joy to behold. We laughed with delight at his exclamation, “Math teachers are awesome!” when an obviously talented teacher explained a difficult concept.

He is confused by one thing. While some of his classmates—none of whom were homeschooled—are eager learners, others slump into their seats as class begins and prepare for a nap. He cannot understand their lack of interest.

As adults, parents and teachers have the awesome opportunity of introducing so much of life to innocent children. One of our gravest responsibilities is making sure not to diminish the wonder of life and learning for the next generation.

A talented parent or teacher can peel open a book revealing depths not necessarily evident on a first reading. A mentor can point a child towards an understanding of history that will help the youth become a greater person. A science teacher can reveal the wonders of the universe and God’s creation to thirsty minds and hearts. Those same educators can crush a love of learning, impoverishing and harming a child.

Maybe your children are going back to school, either in person or online. Maybe you are taking those first exciting, scary and momentous steps and homeschooling for the first time. Let’s hope, and what’s more take steps to ensure, that whatever teachers our children have, we and they are not among the Grinches stealing the pleasure from education.

  

Lifetime Learning

April 1st, 2010 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Susan's Musings 2 comments

After our friend, Mike, served multiple military tours overseas and was back in civilian life, he explained to me that one is never an ex-Marine. You may not be on active service, but you are still a Marine. I hope he and his comrades won’t find this offensive, but I feel somewhat the same way about being a homeschooling mom.

Although I have no children left in my homeschool, a large part of my identity was forged by those years, and I have no desire to leave it behind. One of the most important lessons I learned, and I hope that my children did as well, is that learning is not confined to a particular time or place. Learning takes place as long as one is alive and isn’t necessarily related to sitting for a certain number of hours in a specific location during designated months. You certainly can learn in a classroom setting; you just as certainly can accomplish no more than logging wasted time. Worse, you can be indoctrinated with the idea that once school is over, so is learning.

God created us with a natural desire to learn and to communicate with others. It is enchanting to watch a baby manipulate an object until he understands its properties.  As he bangs it, chews on it, and throws it, he is learning to discern textures, shapes and size. A toddler’s frustration as he yearns to get an idea across before he actually has the language skills to do so may result in furious tears and make him difficult to handle, but it is a sign of growth.

Over the years that wonder diminishes. There is a natural attrition as we become competent enough to navigate through life and less curious about what there still is to explore. Too often our love of learning is actively squelched, often sadly by the very institutions that are officially dedicated to advancing it. Homeschooling parents aren’t immune from this malady either. Well-intentioned parents and teachers all need to actively work to nurture the joy that can be found in hard work and intellectual inquiry.

For me, one great benefit of being a homeschooling mom was an opportunity to expand my own knowledge. There were subjects that I did not enjoy when I was in school, like ninth grade algebra, that I not only began to understand but actually began to have fun with when I covered it for the second, third and fourth time as a homeschooling mom. I had the opportunity to spend Wednesday mornings for an eight week period sitting in on a series of fascinating World War I history classes at our local library.

I no longer have time for activities like that. Since I am no longer technically homeschooling it is hard to justify spending hours reading biographies or trying some really fun kitchen science experiments as a valid part of working hours.

My children may not (yet) enjoy algebra, might confuse Woodrow Wilson with country singer Gretchen Wilson and most likely don’t remember what all the abbreviations on the periodic table stand for.  The one thing that I do hope they acquired and internalized is a love of learning and the realization that it can and should be pursued at all times and through limitless paths. I believe that my children benefited from our homeschooling adventure. I, for one, miss it.

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