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Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Jonathan and I sat at our local Panera Bread, enjoying a mother-son afternoon date. We ordered hot chocolate and played a favorite game to get started. But then he wanted to get down to the real fun he’d been anticipating.
I opened my laptop and we began his online weather course: watching multimedia clips and taking the quizzes involved.
After 45 minutes, guess who was bored? (Me.)
“Jonathan, we’ll stop at 4 o’clock, but we can come back to it another day.”
“Why? Please, can I finish the whole thing?”
What homeschooling mama could say no? Not this one!
And the whole experience got me thinking: “How many 11-year-olds beg to study and take quizzes on their Saturday afternoons?”
What I want to stress is this: I haven’t done anything incredible to make this scenario happen. In fact, my son’s progress is more about what I haven’t done.
Steve and I have simply created an inspiring environment and then let it work toward the development of our top educational goal for our 8- to 12-year-olds:
To fall deeply in love with learning.
Why we’ve chosen this path
If you’re familiar with Strengthsfinders, you’ll understand when I say one of my top five strengths is being a LEARNER.
Finding this out about myself a few years ago made so much sense out of my experience in public school. (If you haven’t taken the test you might want to consider it!)
I loved to read and write and desperately wanted to learn. I was one of those kids hiding novels under their desks, secretly questioning why I had to hide them.
My experience of having a deep love of learning and of having to work around the system to develop it, has made me passionate about offering my own children the chance to develop their love of learning in freedom.
No hiding novels under desks required.
Love of Learning Phase
If the phases of learning are new to you, here’s a basic overview:
- Core Phase, ages 0-8
- Love of Learning, ages 8-12
- Transition to Scholar, ages 12-14
- Scholar Phase, ages 14-18
- Depth Phase, ages 18-22
The idea is that a child will naturally move to the next phase if and when they have fully mastered the goals of the previous ones, which is why all the ages listed are approximate guidelines only.
Previously I wrote about our family’s experience with Core Phase learning for ages 0-8. Reading that post first will help you understand this one, since all of us must have a secure core phase foundation for the other phases to follow.
One of our favorite learning games for understanding money
The Love of Learning Curriculum
“During this phase, the skills and tools of learning such as reading, writing, math skills, experimentation, library research, and oral persuasion, that will enable later scholarly habits, are practiced according to the student’s level of interest and desire and a fair level of competence gained.”
~ Leadership Education, Chapter 2
Here’s an overview of the Love of Learning curriculum, as it is described here:
- Opportunities & Projects
- Work, Play, Study
- Field Trips
- The Library
- Inspiring Parent
- The Bookshelf
- Mornings, Afternoons, Evenings
- The Seasons
- Freedom, Fun, Family
- Questions & Discussions
If this curriculum sounds like real life to you, that’s because it is!
Jonathan engrossed in this fabulous edition of a forever classic
Our family’s experience
I remember studying this book years ago, wondering how on earth letting my little kids play most of the time would lead to a desire to learn. But it turns out, it does!
I’ve discovered that ten- and twelve-year-olds, in the right environment, don’t want to be doing the same thing they were doing at ages six and eight. They slowly mature and develop new goals, particularly if they know there’s a mission out there waiting for them.
I have a 12-year-old now in Transition to Scholar Phase, an 11-year-old solidly in Love of Learning, and a ten-year-old still working through Core Phase.
Yet it hasn’t been all flowers and buttercups to get us here.
What we’ve given up:
Following such a different path hasn’t come without sacrifices. The main sacrifice we’ve made is letting go of the typical conveyor belt method of schooling.
We haven’t tried to “keep up” with the system, because we wanted a new system. While this has been freeing in many ways, it’s also required faith and a commitment to homeschooling long-term.
When allowed to develop naturally, children develop unevenly. They may be far ahead compared to grade level peers in one area, far “behind” in another. We’ve needed to step way outside the grade-level box. That’s been downright scary at times.
What we’ve gained:
In our home, we have an environment where learning is celebrated! It’s FAR from perfect, mind you, but that’s the beauty–it doesn’t have to be perfect to work.
I have three children who passionately love learning, who think one of best ways to spend an afternoon is curled up with a book or writing a new story.
Even my youngest, who at age ten is not yet a fluent reader, tells people that his favorite things to do are “playing and reading.” This response tells me that his natural love of learning is still alive and kicking, in spite of the fact that he hasn’t yet mastered the written word. I’m so grateful for that!
What about hard work?
But don’t kids need to learn certain things, like it or not?
One day I came across a quote from a veteran homeschooling mama on a Thomas Jefferson Education forum that put it all together for me:
“Separate learn to work hard and learn to love learning. Let each of those be internalized on their own tracks. Then, in Scholar Phase, the two combine and the kid is ready to work hard at learning.”
For our family, a subscription to Little Passports has been a perfect addition to Love of Learning Phase
Is it really that risky?
The results of the traditional educational system are far from stellar, and they certainly come with plenty of risks involved, too.
Following a new philosophy took tremendous faith and courage in the younger years, but now our family has started to see it working. Having kids who love learning makes a homeschooling parent’s job much easier…because they begin to educate themselves.
This allows me to get on with my own education and mission, all the while modeling the importance of learning alongside them. We live, love, and learn side-by-side, each of us in the way that best matches our phase of life.
And in spite of the challenges, I couldn’t imagine anything else I’d rather be doing.
Learn more about Love of Learning Phase:
- Tjed.org – the official site of A Thomas Jefferson Education
- A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille (The WHY of the method)
- Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille (The HOW)
How does your family seek to instill a love of learning in your children?