Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
Today’s post is the third in a series called Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom. If you’d like to catch up, take a few moments to read the first and second posts.
Most of us start out all wrong when we begin homeschooling. We rush around looking at curriculum; we panic because the kids would rather be playing outside, or building with Legos, than doing that boring worksheet.
But here’s what we’re missing when we allow all those other things to sidetrack our minds:
It all starts with us. It’s as much about our education as it is about theirs.
We are mistaken if we believe that our job as a homeschooling parent is to educate our child. On the surface that might sound surprising, but really it’s just common sense.
If you step back you realize that actually educating our children is impossible. Here’s the truth: You can force a child to sit somewhere, most traditional classrooms do, but you cannot and never will be able to force a child to learn.
Charlotte Mason, an educational pioneer from 19th century England, summed it up well when she said this:
“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.”
When we’re able to let go of this false notion and heavy responsibility, we’ll discover a new freedom. We’ll also discover what our job actually is: to create an inspiring atmosphere and to educate ourselves. This is where it gets really fun–because this is where we get to develop and nurture our own passions.
I am a writer, and because of that I have time carved out in my day for writing. My children know Mommy is a writer, they see me write, they see that I make it a priority in my day. Therefore writing is natural in our home—it has become a natural aspect of life that my children are interested in and want to do.
My two older kids regularly spend time writing and creating books of their own—asking for help with spelling, reading their books back to me, practicing their handwriting–and all from their own motivation as a result of seeing this modeled for them.
You may or may not be a writer, but you are something. Something valuable and important! Something that will naturally lead to all sorts of other beautiful learning opportunities for your family, if you only have the courage to let that something out.
You may be a baker, an artist, an athlete, a scientist—whatever you are, be that! This is part of the gift you bring as a guide and mentor to the children in your home.
It’s as much about your education as it is about theirs.
How are you continuing your education and living out your passions while homeschooling?
Great article! I have found this concept to be very true. I also write, and though the kids aren’t writing stories yet, they make them up and pretend them in abundance. They also bake just like mommy, because they’ve been pulling their chairs up to the counter since they were toddlers. More things are caught than taught. 🙂
“More things are caught than taught.”
Fabulous post, and I will link to you when I get done with a similar post I’m working on right now. I just realized the “mom still learning” thing a few days ago. I pulled out my guitar after a year long break and started playing again. My fingers hurt badly. It was good for the boys to see that. To know mom is still learning (or re-learning) and that I don’t know everything. To know that mom has things she wants to learn and do and have space for. These are all important things for mom to hold close…but for the boys to know as well. Thanks for this post!!
MamaTea’s latest post: just homeschoolers
simply stated. entirely true. and wonderfully freeing!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! It’s hard for me to be inspiring to my 7 year old son, who is only interested in Legos and technology, when I am far from it–I would rather just sit and knit or sew. Sometime I think we don’t have ANYTHING in common!! But I think you’re right. It’s good to let our children see us following our passions, even if they are not the same.
What an inspiring post. Thanks for taking some weight off my shoulders. Thanks!
Melissa’s latest post: The more I think about unschooling…
Wonderful reminder. Thank you!
Living the Balanced Life
This is so true! Such good words and it is true from a spiritual standpoint as well. Many times I said God called me to homeschool my kids because he had some things to teach ME, lol!
Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: Decluttering your mind
So true, Bernice. Good to remember that!
Very well said. If we don’t keep up with who we are, then we’re not being very good mentors to our children. They need to see us learning about things that interest us and continuing to pursue our passions.
Heidi’s latest post: Online Homeschool Programs
“More things are caught than taught.” Love that! 🙂
Wow! Thank you for that. The more I think about homeschooling our future kids, the more I was feeling a little guilty because I thought of all the amazing things that I would learn. But it’s true: I’m really only responsible for educating myself. A homeschooling parent (or any parent, really) isn’t successful because of how much their children learn, but how much they love learning. Thank you for the reminder.
Jennie’s latest post: How To Be a Really Good Grown-up
I read. I sew. I take good care of babies. I serve my sisters in the church. I am not anything in particular, but I love giving my children opportunities in many different areas of interest!
i don’t think it matters what your passion is, as long as your kids see you having passions. nurturing your passions. devoting time and energy to them. and the kids are going to have passions all their own, and may or may not share in ours, but they will know HOW to have a passion if they see it happening in our lives.
mb’s latest post: one
My daughter told me today about how her kindergarten teacher in public school last year had shared some old railroad gear that her grandfather had used as an engineer. That sounded so cool, and I wondered what unique things *I* could share with her now that I’m her teacher. Your piece reminded me that there are some cool things about me that are worth sharing with them and that they won’t learn from the curriculum I meticulously selected for them. Thank you for sharing this.
Danielle’s latest post: On remembering
So true, and you’re not the only one with an influence on your kids. My kids have picked up inspiration from Uncles and Aunts and their grandparents all of who are more than willing to share what they love with them.
Kerry’s latest post: Not Back to School Bonfire
That’s a great point, too, Kerry! Thanks for mentioning
Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz
Thank you, what a great post! I am naturally an artist but have neglected that side of me since our baby was born almost 3 years ago. We plan on homeschooling her and you’re absolutely right – the best way to inspire my own children is to be inspired and do what I love! Thanks for the reminder, I never thought of homeschooling from this perspective.
Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz’s latest post: Welcome Baby: KottonPickinKute Newsboy Hat Review
i find that i thought i was completely unable to learn in conventional school growing up. then i went to college, late, and discovered i LOVED to learn! I just wasn’t interested in what school was. i was really interested once i got to think for myself, argue my own points, and pick my own areas to study! so that is my goal, passing on my love of learning, i don’t assume that anything else will stick! lol
http://www.theevolvinghomemaker.com‘s latest post: Mindful About Our Own Expectations
My kids pick up on my attitudes and habits, so when I am enthusiastic about reading and writing, they are too. Now, if I could only love math just as much!
anne’s latest post: Review and Giveaway: JumpStart
That is a great reminder! I think too, they can learn from us when we do things we do not enjoy sometimes because they simply need to be done, like laundry or washing dishes….and sometimes doing our math is just something that has to be done.
Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: Pirate of my heart by Jamie Carie
I love this post! We are just beginning our homeschool journey and reading these things are so helpful and inspiring! 🙂 By taking the time to learn and grow myself, I will be setting a great example for my children!
I agree! I have realized over the course of my homeschooling experience that God placed different children in different famillies. We ALL have something special to teach and model for our children. My children will never be physicists or geologists, but they have already developed a love for books–just like their mom!
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renee @ FIMBY
This is the journey I am on right now in so many respects, intellectually, spiritually, creatively. I am growing and going deeper and inviting my kids to join – either with me or on their own paths. It’s so exciting.
renee @ FIMBY’s latest post: Roasted Tomato Soup
I meet so many people who gave up what they loved to do when they had kids, who tell me they wished they could have “fill in the blank”, but they had kids and now they’re too old, it’s sad. They gave up riding motorcycles, driving sports cars, flying airplanes, painting, quilting, and so on, because they had kids and had to focus on hauling kids around creation to dance, music, cheerleading, soccer, tae-kwon-do, and so on. It seemed everyone was sharing their passions with their kids except for them. How sad for brilliant, talented parents with such varied interests and passions to prefer paying someone else to share their brilliance with the kids rather than sharing their own, then calling it “sacrifice.” The hardest think about having our daughter was sorting out how to fit her into our activities. Not only did we not give up the things we loved to do because of having a child, we added to them. I love telling my motorcycle students that my child was a toddler watching with my husband from the side when I was taking my first motorcycle class to earn my endorsement and now I’m thrilled that she’s big enough to reach the passenger pegs, so we bought her a helmet and she loves riding with me. We tried private and public school before submitting to our divine lifestyle of education. My daughter says that her very favorite thing about homeschooling, her favorite “subject” is being with me. It’s not all a bed of roses. She sees me at my best and worst. I don’t have to pretend I’m perfect. She’s not just learning school subjects, she’s learning that her mother has been through some hard times and has pain and sometimes that pain just shows a lot more than other times. Homeschooling is very good for our relationship. I believe she was sent to help heal my heart no matter how resistant it is sometimes. I’d miss all her hugs and “I love you, Mama’s” if she were in school. I’d miss her enthusiasm for the things I enjoy. When she was in school, she wanted to be a teacher. Now, she wants to be a scientist and work for NASA, because she sees her dad’s and my fanatic enthusiasm for the space program, so I get to do really cool stuff like study apologia astronomy with our co-op group, and I say “we” are studying astronomy, because I’m learning too. Neither one of us are scientists, nor have worked for NASA, but we’re fans, so she picked up our enthusiasm. How brilliant is that?!
Jamie, I love this post so much. It reminds me of advice I received to purposefully let my children see me being an adult, fostering my adult interests — how that serves them well, and gives them a picture of health to aspire to. It also reminds me of the oft-quoted Proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go….” I think the pronoun in there is very key. “The way” isn’t formulaic; it’s my job to help my child discover his own personal bends and gifts, so he grow and flourish in them in time. Thank you for sharing this beautiful encouragement.