This morning I had to make a last minute decision, do I continue with lessons as planned, or take the opportunity to meet, hang out and roller skate with other homeschoolers? I think the choice was pretty easy….but driving home I was suddenly flooded with feelings of being “behind schedule”. Usually when I plan a field trip or outing, I’m prepared…I prioritize, maybe double up in some areas so that we can pick up where we left off. Today I didn’t have that option, so I tried to narrow down which lesson or two I would try to tackle once we got home. Do I go with what my son likes or what he needs the most help with? What would be a quick lesson to get ahead or the curriculum we are furthest behind in? What really matters the most here? Then I thought “Wait? What’s even the point of school anyways?”
I keep feeling “behind”…but compared to what? I’m not bound by a district or curriculum. Didn’t we choose to homeschool to avoid that pressure and be free to learn at our own pace? Ok….ok…so if I really am free to teach my children as I see fit (novel idea isn’t…shouldn’t that be inherent?)….then what’s the true goal here? One trick of the trade I have picked up is this: When in doubt, turn it into a homeschool discussion!
Although I had my own ideas for the answer, I was curious as to what my son’s thoughts were. Here is a streamlined version of our conversation:
M: “Hey honey, why do you think kids go to school?”
LL: “To learn”
M: “Ok, but to learn what?”
LL: “Math. Reading. Well, reading is probably number one, if you don’t know how to read, you can’t really learn anything else.”
M: “Yes! Reading is very important, and helps us learn many things. Why do you think we need to learn those things though? Why do we have to learn anything at all?”
M: “Let me ask you another question. If suddenly you got to be the boss of the house, would you know what to do?”
LL: “Mom, I don’t even know how to drive! I can’t get a job if I don’t drive and if I don’t have a job we can’t have stuff we need. I could cook some things like peanut butter and jelly or cereal, but that would be it. There is no way I am ready to be a grown up.” He thought a minute and said “That’s it! We need school to teach us how to be grown ups in the world!
So there it is! He basically nailed it! Why do we teach our children anything? We want them to grown up into productive, independent, honest citizens, and caring members of society. For most that means, go to college, get a job and a family….so the general education system is geared toward those goals in that order. STUDY!!!! OBEY!!! Then worry about relationships. Thankfully we chose to home educate, and although college, a job, and a family are very important to us….there is more to life than that. Therefore there should be more to our homeschool than the standard subjects we encounter at school.
Once we got home we started a brainstorming session about what it takes to be a “good grown up” and what we need to learn. Here is what my Lil’ Lizard came up with:
- How to take care of kids.
- How to take care of your car.
- How to take care of your house.
- How to take care of your self.
- How to take care of nature, your planet, your neighbors, your family, your country, and all your other stuff.
- How to work as a team.
- Safety skills.
- Whatever job you want, those kinda things or skills.
- How to even LEARN!
I really love this list for SO many reasons. Isn’t it just so liberating!? Education isn’t about times tables and diagramming sentences or cramming for a test. It’s about growing and being a better human being….about exploration and curiosity….connecting with other people and sharing your ideas…about fulfilling your heart’s passion and equipping yourself to do so.
We all say we just want our kids to be happy and healthy, but what are we honestly doing to teach them the things that could make that dream a reality? Public school parents or home educators a like, I challenge you to ask yourself…what are the pearls of wisdom you had to learn the hard way? Let’s set our kids up for success and make time to instill those practical life skill lessons. Or here’s a thought, learn together as a family!
Like I said, there are so many reasons I love this list he came up with. Those are HUGE concepts, and although a little daunting, I feel encouraged and motivated because this simple list really underscores the PURPOSE of what we are doing. Sure we’ll still study our math, grammar and other subjects….but I don’t have to bog myself down with all the pressure and expectations imposed by other people with other goals/purposes. As long as we meet our state standards, we can exercise our freedom to be the best versions of ourselves! We can embrace the differences in each other because we don’t have to force everyone into the same tiny box.
So while some are preparing for the ivy league school, the job field of choice, or the zombie apocalypse …we’ll be over here preparing to enjoy life for what it is. 🙂
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” John 10:10