5 ways to strip away labels and encourage a love of learning

Written by Laura Thomas of This Eternal Moment

A friend of mine who is also a public school teacher visited our home and had my five-year-old daughter read her a few books. She immediately concluded, “She’s reading at least on a first or second grade level.”

While in some ways, these types of comments can serve as an encouragement and/or relief to me (“Whew! Glad she’s not behind in her reading…”), they can provide a false standard of measurement for what success in learning looks like.

They could also cause my daughter to become prideful about where she ranks in comparison to other children her age, something I want to diligently fight against.

Another friend of mine, a lawyer as well as a fellow homeschooling mom, made the following observation to me:

When I was in school, I always made As, but didn’t have to work hard for them. Rather than motivating me, it made me lazy. When I got to college I realized that I had never been challenged to push myself to keep learning. I merely knew what I had to do to make As and I did it. College was a big wake-up call for me.”

The more thought I have put into it, the more certain I have become that for our family, we won’t be labeling our academic achievement primarily by grade levels or other more external measurements.

Instead, I’ve created a few primary values and principles to guide me as a homeschooling mom and teacher:
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Finding balance as a work-at-home homeschooling mom

Written by LaToya Edwards

I never planned to homeschool my children. In fact until I got pregnant with my oldest I’d never even heard the word.

I also didn’t plan on being a single mom. But as the time came to make school decisions I ultimately settled on homeschooling as what was best for my family.

It was not an easy choice. And everyone around me thought that I was crazy! How in the world was I going to homeschool as a single mom?

It took a lot of trial and error but I was able to find a way to make it work, including affording to be home, paying the bills, and getting the curriculum that we needed each year.

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5 high school truths I wish I’d known

Written by Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

We graduated our first homeschooled student in 2014.

While homeschooling high school wasn’t a bad experience for us the first time around, there are things I wish I had known because I would have done them a bit differently.

They would have made our good experience an even better one:

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5 things I’ve learned in kindergarten

Written by Amida of Journey into Unschooling

When I started homeschooling, some 15 years ago, my focus was very much on academic achievement. Like many before me, I had a long list of subjects to plow through and an even longer list of concepts for my kid to master.

Not only did we closely follow the school curriculum and state standards, we added in Great Books, Classic Literature, Memorization, Art Study and Latin for good measure.

We accomplished many amazing projects (like Monet-inspired paintings), as well as shed many, many tears.

Looking back, I’m surprised we survived the grade school years, let alone continued the journey with three more kids!

Luckily, homeschooling turned out to be my calling. Despite the constant stress, the never ending housework, and the 24/7 with kids, I rather liked it.

I loved hearing my children read aloud. I relished seeing them read to themselves. I delighted in the doodles that came with every sheet of paperwork they completed and even the incomplete weather logs.

It was all good and brought purpose to my life. I was the one who taught them how to write their first letter, read their first sentence, and add their first group of plastic bear manipulatives.

This will be my fifth year repeating kindergarten, and I must say, practice does make it easier. I now know exactly how much to push and when to back off.

In fact, here are five things I’ve learned through (teaching) kindergarten to my kids:

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8 elements that come together in a healthy homeschool

8 elements that come together in a healthy homeschool
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Over the summer I read Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, as part of the Mentoring in the Classics e-course led by Oliver DeMille of Thomas Jefferson Education.

It wasn’t my first time reading Alcott, or even my first time writing about her work. But it was my first time reading this book from a homeschooling mama’s perspective.

And all I can say is WOW. In vibrant story form, this book absolutely nails the elements that create a thriving educational atmosphere.

If you haven’t read it, you absolutely must. (FYI: You can get all of Alcott’s work in Kindle format here for a steal of a deal!

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the story, let me quickly recap: At the end of Little Women, Jo March marries Professor Bhaer. Her stern Aunt Josephine passes away, leaving her luxurious, large home (AKA Plumfield) to Jo.

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Jo and the Professor decide to turn the home into a school for boys. Eventually two girls end up living among the dozen boys as well, and Little Men is the account of their “home/school.”

The Bhaers’ thoughts on education and parenting don’t follow the norm. They concern themselves not only with their boys’ minds, but their hearts and souls as well. 

In this post I’ve outlined eight elements Professor Bhaer and Mrs. Jo blended together in their home/school to create a place where children could live, learn, and heal.

For a modern-day snapshot, I’ve also included how my own family attempts (very imperfectly, mind you) to incorporate these same elements into our homeschool life.
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