From time to time I get less than complimentary comments or messages about what we are doing. Usually from someone’s irate grandparent who feel my kids need to learn for more than 5 hours a week. I’m reprimanded with a “your doing a huge disservice to your kids” and a long list of why they know more than me. Most are even sweet enough to qualify with their teaching credentials or that they have been raising kids much longer than my measly 11 years.
I cant lie, I sometimes read these comments and question myself, question our lifestyle. I dont have teaching credentials, for goodness sakes I dont even have a college degree! Could they be right? Am I failing my children?? As I become more confident in our education choices, I no longer take these attacks personal. In fact I just chalk it up to a huge misunderstanding.
Because my kids aren’t “Learning” for only 5 hours a week, my kids are “learning” 365 days a year, during ALL the hours they are awake. Our learning may not happen in a class or according to a schedule, the curriculum is very different but hopefully so are the results!
So while we may only study math or practice our grammar for 5 Hours a week, we replace that lost desk time with something much more important. For every kid and parent it will be different, but the common theme is VALUE! We are focusing on skills, habits, mindsets, and passions that contribute tangible value to our current and future selves.
Recently we had a small “tiff’ in the house. We have been homeschooling now for nearly 3 years and no one is actively pursuing math the way I would like. And if I’m honest my need to see them complete more math is not even reasonable, instead tied up in fear from a traditional school background . Sure Charlotte is doing great with her multiplication tables but getting Maddie to continue in Algebra (age appropriate to her grade) has become a nightmare. I’d like her to spend at least 1 of her 5 hours on math and she’d like to spend zero. Of course she will do it when pressured, but always very begrudgingly. Even worse I’m positive she is retaining zero of what she works on.
In our discussion about this topic she continually tells me this will add zero value to her life, arguing “I wont ever use this, and if I need to, I will learn it then!”
So I’ve conceded. No longer am I forcing her to do an hour of algebra a week. Instead she needed to replace that with an hour of something that would definitely add immediate value and value for the future. We agreed typing is a skill she would like to be more proficient in, and has added a mandatory 20 minute a day typing lesson. In fact all the girls agreed learning to type would help them tremendously, and have added this to their curriculum.
Here is the most remarkable thing about teaching and learning anything of value. Kids know the difference! They know if the time they are spending is actually of worth or just a filler. When my kids know they will benefit from the lessons and time spent on something, they will fully engage, give their complete focus and even spend more than the allotted time I set for them. However if I give them busy work, they will whine, complain and drag their feet. Sure I can make them do it, but typically they will retain very little of it and may be resentful to revisit this topic later, when it could be of more use.
Because guess what? Time is important. Our time is important and so is theirs! Listen we only have so much, and nobody feels good when they are wasting it! We all want to enjoy life, focus on passions and find our inherent talents while working hard on the things that will offer true success.
We need to shift our thinking and stop believing that everyone must know the exact same things at the exact same time. More importantly we need to stop wasting time! Our time and our kids’ time! Instead we need to intentionally and passionately learn any and everything that adds value to OUR OWN life. We need to intentionally live our purpose! Working hard to master what we are created for . We need to listen to our kids and follow their lead when it comes to how they learn and what interests them.
They are not us, they are not the neighbor kid or even their sibling. I have 4 completely different humans that are growing and learning in our home. It blows my mind how different they each process information, what they find interesting and the natural abilities they were born with. My #1 job is to support, encourage, facilitate and allow them to learn in the way that works best for them.
I shake my head at how terribly cliche` it sounds, but this life is honestly so fleeting. We either can choose to live a life of value, creating the life we’ve always dreamed by learning, pursuing and creating; OR we can be everyone else, sitting at a desk and jumping through the hoops.
Do we focus on traditional academics 5 hours a week? Yes absolutely; but we are LEARNING and adding important knowledge at a rate that is simply immeasurable. How do I know it works? Well I know that my kids are happy, creative, passionate learners. I know they actively search for solutions independently, understand how important emotional intelligence is and have time to become masters in the things that interest them most. I also know they may not know everything that is taught in textbooks the way other kids may. If I’m honest I am still learning to be OK with that, old beliefs die hard. Ultimately I know they will learn all they need, all they want and all that will ultimately add authentic value to who they are today and who they are becoming!
Remember it’s OK if your normal looks different than everyone else’s! In fact I applaud you if it does!