Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and writer at Steady Mom
Education wasn’t exactly my top concern when I gave first became a mother. Unless it was my own education–I had a multitude of lessons to learn, mistakes to make, and love to give.
The learning curve continued dramatically when I began considering homeschooling. Now I look back shocked to see that eight whole years have passed. I have plenty of new questions I need answers to, but I’m also far enough down the road, of both motherhood and homeschooling, to feel like I’ve gathered a few lessons under my belt.
I feel far more secure and confident now–in myself, in my mothering, in our choice to homeschool. Here are eight things I’ve learned about education in my eight years of motherhood.
1. It’s not rocket science.
The idea of homeschooling absolutely petrified me at first. Education seemed like some obscure, foggy, unattainable concept. A topic so complex and complicated that only experts could figure it out.
But I don’t feel that way anymore, mainly because:
2. Children are born with a natural curiosity and desire to learn.
I am far from sending my kids out the door to graduation, but having seen all three of my little people (currently ages 9, 8, & 7) through the infant/toddler/preschool phase of life I can adamantly say that they each entered the world with a deep desire to learn.
Kids start off naturally curious–and they remain that way unless burnout kicks in.
3. An absolute wealth of homeschooling and educational resources exist for you to choose from.
Gone are the days of home learning in isolation. Homeschooling groups and co-ops currently multiply like wildfire across the United States, not to mention the vast selection of curricula available as well as incredible, high-quality online educational programs like Khan Academy, TED talks, and so much more.
I have no doubt that this trend will continue, but:
4. You don’t need much to homeschool successfully. A growing home library of well-chosen books works best.
I tend to look for complex formulas or strategies to implement because the idea of these lofty plans gives me a temporary feeling of security. But as is so often the case, simple is often the best. And the easiest.
I want my children to think of books as friends–Because a child who loves reading is primed for a lifetime of learning.
5. My children give clues when they are ready for something new.
Jonathan did it way back as an infant by weaning himself from breastfeeding. He clued me in by his continued lack of interest in nursing anymore. In spite of all my efforts, at nine months he was ready for something new.
My kids still provide these clues: By a new interest in a subject, by asking to learn something, by their enthusiasm, or even by physical changes like losing teeth. If I pay attention, I can work with these clues instead of against them.
6. Waiting until they’re ready saves a ton of time–and tears (theirs & mine).
Each child has his own timetable of development–his own repertoire of strengths and weaknesses to consider.
It is nothing short of ludicrous to expect each five-, six-, nine-, or twelve-year-old to tackle the same skills judged solely by the date of their birth. My children need an individualized education that matches their readiness so we both avoid frustration.
7. Enthusiasm matters in education–especially mine.
If I want to invite joy and learning in my home, I must show that I love and enjoy learning.
If I want my children to choose to learn something, they have to see me choose it first. I’d rather inspire them to choose it themselves than use compulsion and force because:
8. Self-education matters most.
I agree with educational pioneer Charlotte Mason that “self-education is the only possible education.” A person–no matter what their age–who is internally motivated is unstoppable.
By teaching my kids how to learn for themselves, I’m giving them the freedom to become who they were born to become. And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my eight years of motherhood, it’s that my children were born–just like yours–to become something great.
What lessons have you learned about education during your time homeschooling?
This post originally published on September 10, 2012.