Written by contributor Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane
A big forest behind our house, lots of free time to read, a garden, science fairs, a playhouse, maps on the wall, Legos, an old piano, sketch books, almost no TV, and a library card.
These were the key components of my homeschool education growing up. In fact, when I’m asked what my homeschool days were like I usually respond, “I remember home but I don’t remember any school.”
My mom loves that.
She enthusiastically led us in a joy-filled, relaxed approach to learning. “Doing school” did not dominate our days.
Last year I ran across my mom’s worn and tattered volume by Mary Pride, homeschooling guru from the 1980s, who raised seven kids, wrote books, and taught countless seminars. On one of the many dog-eared pages I discovered part of the inspiration for Mom’s philosophy. When asked, “How do you do it all?” Pride responded,
“The key is … laziness! The best way to teach is to not have to teach at all. Ideally, our children should learn how to learn and begin to teach themselves.”
I believe this is why some moms can have a gaggle of kids, homeschool, volunteer, maintain friendships, and be active in their communities without collapsing. (They might have housekeepers too; I’m suspicious.)
We give our kids the key to learning and then relax a bit. Here are a few ideas to make this work (Thanks, Mary).
The lazy girl’s guide to home education:
1. Give Access
Pride says the key is access:
“Human nature being what it is, you can be sure that if it is hard to find, hard to get out, or hard to put away, children will avoid it. But when parents make the materials of learning accessible, amazing things start to happen!”
Thankfully, we do not need to be the source of all our children’s information. Our kids will learn more when they’re motivated by genuine curiosity and empowered to acquire skills and information on their own.
Therefore, having educational tools easily accessible to children will encourage them to discover and learn on their own.
Photo by Lacey Meyers
For us, this means making our entire home conducive to creativity and learning. Our house isn’t large, but we dedicated a small loft-area (and every other nook and cranny we can find!) to encourage learning and discovery.
We also let the kids decorate and display their interests and creations freely.
Let me tell you, their room does not look like a Pottery Barn catalog, with walls covered in artwork, Cartesian coordinate systems (yes, my 6-year-old son loves math), and treasure maps scotch-taped all over their walls but their love for learning and creativity is alive, and that is beautiful to me.
Photo by Lacey Meyers
2. Create Order
A little work at the beginning will enable you to make a pot of tea, put up your feet, and perhaps … read a book (or this blog!), while your children are happily learning.
The key is order. In our home, these 4 simple rules—memorized along with our Bible verses—enable our children to have free access to toys, crafts and learning materials:
- If something has no home it goes to another home.
- If we don’t use it we give it to someone who will.
- Put everything to bed before we go to bed.
- Put away one thing before moving on to another.
We must not be lazy about teaching order early on so our children can enjoy the freedom of access to learning tools. If we can train our children from a young age to exercise basic discipline in these areas, they can enjoy the limitless freedom of exploring the world around them all their days. The toddler who can put his toys away becomes the teenager who can teach himself trigonometry.
Finally, one last Lazy Girl must-do:
Photo by Lacey Meyers
3. Allow Boredom
I distinctly remember my ever-tender-hearted mother having zero compassion for bored children. She was not responsible for entertaining us, and since electronics and media weren’t options, we were doomed …
Yes, necessity is the mother of invention, and when children are allowed to face boredom, do you know what happens? They invent things to do! They create! Discover! Imagine! Learn!
I believe that the hectic overfilled schedule of most kids these days is actually hindering their ability to learn. Boredom is a blessing; it forces kids to think, create, learn.
As I type these words my children are going on 3 hours straight of having a backyard archeological dig, taping together dinosaur bones (sticks) and drawing maps to document their findings. Actually, now I don’t know where they are; hold on …
These 3 simple steps set children up for a lifetime of learning because they’ll still have the tools and the discipline long after they spread their wings and leave homeschool behind. And, we might even make it to graduation day with a few non-gray hairs if we cut ourselves some slack and employ a little strategic lazy-girl philosophy.
I’m certainly no expert, but Mary Pride is. It’s worth a try.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find my children…
Your turn! What “Lazy Girl” tips can you share with us? Thanks for reading.
Originally published on October 30, 2013