Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane
It was the conversation I never dreamed we’d have:
“I don’t think we’re doing enough. School has gotten really easy.”
“Yeah, you said we’d be doing more this year, but we aren’t. Can’t we learn some more things?”
It was the kind of complaining that’s music to a mama’s ears. Both kids lamenting that they’re not learning enough? Both kids actually asking to do more school?
After I picked myself up off the floor, I asked some clarifying questions, to understand what exactly they were wanting. At twelve and ten-years-old, they are mostly independent in their studies, and over the past couple years I’ve slowly decluttered our curriculum, simmering it down to the basic essentials.
I saw so much good coming from having more space, I was hesitant to add anything back in.
But now they were begging me for more. Wasn’t this exactly what I’d hoped for? Wasn’t this the whole point? Don’t they say that cultivating (or recovering) a love of learning was the whole point of these middle-years?
This was it. My confirmation that a love of learning was growing, and that now, now that they were asking for it, I could effectively add more work into their days.
I sat down with paper and asked them each in turn:
Ok, you’re already doing the basics, so what subjects would you like to add? What do you want to learn?
Each child answered differently. Heidi was eager to learn a second language, take a Creative Writing course, read more books from our booklists, write book reports, and start a monthly book club with her friends.
I had to chuckle. I’ve never required my kids to write book reports, favoring discussion instead. But this girl loves to write, so written reports appeal to her. Great!
We signed up for an online Spanish course, and I pulled down the Creative Writing materials I had purchased ahead for Dutch (who isn’t interested–ha!). She took the initiative of inviting, organizing and hosting the first gathering of her book club and the girls had a blast.
My son’s request was short and sweet, related to his obsession with all things Creation Science: He wanted to buy a high school Biology textbook and critique it, considering claims, writing notes in the margin, and finding any areas of inaccuracy, when compared with a Creationist perspective.
This had never occurred to me, but I thought it was a great idea. Undoubtedly he’d learn some more biology, gain experience comparing varying perspectives, sharpen his reasoning, and learn how to articulate his views.
We also purchased The Truth Project DVD series so we could go through them together and discuss different aspects of a biblical worldview.
Clearly, my two children’s requests could not have been more different. And certainly, it would be a disaster to try to force both kids to fit into the same educational mold.
Dutch can easily advance into adult-level materials in his area of interest. Heidi is doing a week’s worth of writing lessons each day because she enjoys it so much.
My point is this: If we overcrowd our curriculum we don’t have the time, space, and mental energy to add in what our children love.
I believe that, in general, we want people to want more of what we offer, not less.
Every public speaker knows that the key is leaving people wanting more, not looking at their watches wondering when you’ll finally be done.
The same, I believe, is true with education. At this stage, I want to whet my children’s appetites for knowledge, learning, acquiring skills, and then leave them wanting more.
Create a hunger, then let them feast at will.
We might be surprised to find our children begging for more.
How do you add this type of “fun” learning into your homeschool?