Written by Kara Anderson
Every summer, I take a class.
It’s usually just a few nights, and over time, it’s become easier and easier to make room in my life for this quirky tradition.
I’ve taken knitting and yoga, photography and felting, and every year when the course catalog comes, I set it aside for a while and then peruse it late one night, deciding if it will be a year for Greek or Graphic Design.
My favorite classes are held at my old college campus, where my love for learning was reinvigorated after a long hiatus.
I didn’t like school in middle school and hated it in high school, but in college I came alive again.
I took Philosophy and foreign languages and Logic and eventually Feature Writing, which led me to join the student newspaper and find my place.
I took “The Poetry of Love” and Criminal Psychology and I dabbled and explored.
I took what interested me, and learning became wonderful again.
I had forgotten it could be like that.
And so I still love, all these years later, packing a bag and trying to find my class – sitting in a desk and taking notes …
I still love to learn.
I want my kids to have that, or rather, I want them to keep it – I don’t want them to lose it in middle school, especially since middle school starts for my son in the fall.
And so I’ve spent a lot of time the past several months trying to figure out how to keep a love of lifelong learning alive for my kids.
I’ve decided that it comes down to a few things:
- Giving them time and space to pursue their interests and passions and loves.
- Modeling lifelong learning.
- Not forcing stuff that isn’t a good fit right now.
I’ve also noticed in the past year that my enthusiasm has a huge impact on what we study in our homeschool.
Take history – the history we studied last year was a happy accident – so happy that I wrote a whole e-book about it!
It started because I got really into historical fiction and non-fiction books, and I found a couple of cool podcasts. I stumbled across things like Operation Mincemeat, and the lost colony of Roanoke and the ghost ship The Mary Celeste.
Those topics were so interesting, I just had to share them with my kids, and I still remember the morning when I threw out the lesson plans for our day and we went to the library instead to study a new “historical mystery” that had captivated us all completely.
Our school that day felt alive and electric. We went to bed that night reading and woke up talking over each other, so excited to share what we had learned.
I decided then that that was the kind of passionate learning I want to share with my kids, and so, I’ve intentionally made more space to share what I’m learning about.
I make it a priority on Sunday nights to be sure I have a good book ready for the week and a good audiobook too.
And if I find something that excites me, like hand-lettering, for instance, I don’t wait to do it until my kids go to bed – I do it with them or near them, as they work on something they are excited about.
The most fantastic side-effect of this kind of passionate, interest-driven learning, is that there isn’t fighting – there aren’t tears.
There’s joy and there’s a togetherness that fills us all up.
For a long time, I saw my classes and hobbies as indulgences. But I’m finding that in pursuing what interests me, I’m not neglecting my kids’ education. Instead, I’m connecting with them in new ways.
Letting my love of learning blossom in our homeschool has been contagious, and it’s changed everything.
And I can’t help but think I’m setting my kids up to continue to follow heir own dreams and interests, long after they graduate.
Because learning shouldn’t stop once we get a diploma or a degree. We can learn forever, grow, and discover new things.
And best of all, we can join our kids fully in this journey, and have a blast along the way.
What are your passions and interests? How do you share them with your kids?