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?
I loved reading this, thank you! We have a dairy farm, and our children are all very involved even know they are still young. Ages 11, 9 and 6.
My husband had to go an agronomy meeting this past winter and took our to oldest children along. When my 11 year old came home she couldn’t stop talking about everything she had learned and asked to go to the library right away to get some books out to learn more. I love how you never know what will spark and interest until you are willing to learn about something new.
“I love how you never know what will spark and interest until you are willing to learn about something new.” <----- YES! Totally.
Like you, I also love real-life mysteries. I’ve also always been interested in- don’t laugh- cryptozoology. My kids and I love to read books about mysterious creatures together, and we love discussing all of the stories that come with them. We always jokingly say that someday we’ll take a trip to Loch Ness, set up camp on the shore, and watch for Nessie the entire time we’re there. I guess this would fall into the “mystery” category, as well. (Please don’t think I’m a total flake! There’s just something so appealing to me about the undiscovered.) We also love watching movies about and reading books on ancient Egypt. What a fascinating period of history it was!
Shelly’s latest post: How to Joyfully Transition from Home to Homeschool
I think your house sounds like a really fun place, Shelly! I love discovering new shared interests with my kids. I’m sure people might make fun of my son and I curling up to binge-watch Dr. Who, but it’s a blast and we’re making memories. I always say be you — that’s who your kids want!
This is wonderful! The main reason my husband and I chose to homeschool is that we want to teach our children how to learn, and how to love learning–not to try to cram facts into their heads. Both he and I were homeschooled, and we’ve often felt that one of our strong advantages in life is that we’re rarely afraid to try something new or take on a project–we pursue our passions like crazy and our children are learning to do the same.
Faith Hough’s latest post: Read the World Summer Book Club: Multicultural Week!
Yes, yes, yes! Learning how to learn is huge, and I love hearing how homeschooling has impacted you and your husband so positively!
This was a wonderful read and really gave me some perspective as I work to prepare for “officially” beginning homeschooling with my toddler. I’ve been feeling very guilty about having interests outside of my children’s’ educations but this helped me see it as another way to enhance their learning. For example, my toddler LOVES helping pick lavender for drying for my herbalism interests. I hadn’t really connected it as my love and learning spilling over to him! Thanks!
Yeah! Yes – my daughter loves joining me to mix essential oil blends and make all kinds of fun creations and recipes. Have you guys hear of Wildcraft? That could be a fun game for you to play together!
It’s on my wish list!????
Sarah B R
I’m learning Japanese with my 6 yo daughter. She started first & I decided to join her. She knows I write (for my blog as well as poetry) & so does her Daddy (he actually has 4 books published 🙂 and we read our work to her as much as possible & she now writes too (poems and a picture book: “the pig, the lamb and the wolf”. And she creates poems too. It’s so cool.
Sarah B R’s latest post: A mother’s hopes
Oh fun – I love it!
I really love this idea. I know that children learn form the example of their parents and those around them-what a great one to set. I love to learn as well. I think our children need to see that it is a life long thing and to never stop learning. I love tip 3, to not push something if it is not working. Sometimes that is hard to do. Thank you.
Jen’s latest post: Confused About Why I Blog? Get Your Answer
This is so key to a happy homeschool! So on this wavelength this year, especially, as kids are awake more and there is less time to “do my thing” while they nap or sleep. Just have to do it alongside them. And it leads to discussions and rabbit trails and, most importantly and more meta, that example that Mom is a person, one engaged in the world (ahem–the world of make believe or writing or birds or whatever it is right now). That’s so powerful; I think it will grow more so as they get older–and I am hoping they look back and remember that their mom loved them but loved being curious, too!
I love this! I’m trying to connect with my kids around their interests, or around mine, but it is challenging when their favorite activity is playing with friends. I’m still looking for the spark. We have had a few books that have done it for us, but no subject yet. I’m not giving up, though.
This is SO timely! I have made (or re-made, rather) this same discovery in homeschooling my daughter and teaching our co-op. I was a Montessori teacher for 20+ years before staying home. I always noticed in the classroom that when I had a genuine interest in a material about something it was infectious to my students. My daughter and I have been on a France kick all summer which started with her ballet class last year but has included her wanting to learn French and having a French-themed birthday party. Now our whole family is learning French!