My belief that parenting is basically a giant experiment kinda bleeds over into my homeschooling philosophy.
Sure, you can get plenty of advice from books and other parents, but at the end of the day, you have to figure out what works for each unique child…
Apart from some college, my entire school career was at home. My mom is a certified teacher, and she taught my brothers and me through more traditional methods, but I think the most important thing I learned through my homeschooled career wasn’t from a curriculum.
I believe all kids love to learn.
“Why?” isn’t something you have to teach kids to ask – they’re naturally curious.
My goal as a parent and “teacher” is to encourage and channel that curiosity.
And that’s about as far as my “planning” goes…
I have no planners, little to no curriculum, and I usually get around to ordering whatever it is we’re ordering for the year in January. No, not 7 months ahead. 5 months behind.
But we do school all year, so it’s cool, right? We do that for three reasons – so we don’t have to try to have school on hectic errand days, so that our kids see learning as a daily, life-long thing, and so that we don’t have to play catch up and review after a summer away from it.
This is only our 3rd year and I actually ordered a few things in August. And this is the first year that I’ve started actually keeping track of what days we have school and what we did – I mean, it’s just on a Google calendar, but clearly I’m upping my game. Never mind that most days just say “reading/writing 1.5 hours” and I just guestimated how long it should have taken if my 2nd grader hadn’t gotten in any scuffles with her brother.
The good news is that somehow our 7 year old is reading Little House On the Prairie books, and our 4 year old is reading “A man sat in the sand. A little ant can see the man. The ant is mad.” Yep, that was today.
We sometimes work on math, mainly math games. There’s also a bit of piano, art, typing, and intro to programming – and all of that sounds much, much smarter and more well-rounded than it actually plays out. It’s nothing about a planned curriculum and all about hey, they like this subject, what can we find online for them to learn more.
I have no idea how our kids would stack up to other kids if they were tested, and I sincerely don’t care right now.
When I hear other homeschool moms talking about working on this and that subject I could feel a tiny bit guilty if I let myself, but I’m basically the ultimate homeschool optimist – I believe my kids will eventually learn what they need to know without me stressing about it.
Having come through homeschooling myself, and also having experienced a tiny bit of adult life now, these are the things I believe are most important for raising smart kids:
- Take advantage of opportunities to introduce children to life situations that inspire the desire to learn various subjects – they should know why they need to know something and how it’s practical to real life.
- Give kids a good foundation in the basics – reading, writing, math, and computer skills, because once they’re solid with this stuff they’ll be able to teach themselves anything they need to know and everything they’re interested in. I don’t plan to “officially” add in any subjects other than these until at least 3rd grade.
- Provide children with the tools they need to teach themselves – kids love to feel empowered.
- Teach them, by example, to be resourceful – as adults navigating life they’re going to get a lot farther on street smarts than book smarts.
- More than anything else, teach them to care about people and be good at relationships – I wholeheartedly believe this is the number one thing that makes people successful in life, regardless of what else you know.
So if you find yourself stressing about how your school day looks or if your kids are learning what they need to learn, feel free to use me as your “well, at least I’m doing better than…” I mean, I basically just described parenting as my homeschool strategy 🙂
Even though we have such a laid back approach, I could still use a little more patience some days, and I regularly pray that I don’t screw up my kids. Like I always say, it’s only by God’s grace that so many kids actually make it to adulthood, and that’s what I’m hanging onto – God’s grace.
Christina is the blessed wife of a hot Costa Rican and mother of 2 of the coolest kids a parent could wish for. After living too many stressed years, she and her husband are minimalists with aspirations to someday build their own tiny house. Christina is a designer who loves all things creative, could talk for hours about what makes people tick, and enjoys lots of family travel. She would love to connect with you at Make Room for Greatness, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook.
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