Thursday, May 10, 2012

On Bringing the Fun Back

Our first year of homeschooling was a blast. The kids had fun, I had fun, and we learned a lot, together.

This was our second year of homeschooling. It was kind of the opposite.

We dragged. We struggled. We argued. And I realized, through talking over next year's homeschool plan with my husband the other night, that our homeschool had started to do the one thing I feared most:

It was making learning boring.

That, for me, is the cardinal sin of homeschooling. My job, as a homeschooling parent, is not to merely teach them the things they need to learn as first or second graders. No. My most important job, the number one thing on my list, is to ignite a love of learning that never dies. To help them keep that curiosity that all kids are born with, but lose over time. I want them to keep that.

And what was I doing?

  • Giving them copywork.
  • Making them memorize.
  • Forcing my seven and eight year old to sit through boring readings about Justinian and the Byzantine Empire.

Maybe part of this is me. I could not find a way to make Justinian terribly interesting to my young daughters. Someday, it will be a good thing for them to learn about Justinian. But not now.

It's time to bring the fire back into our homeschooling life.

So, Now What?

I have stuck to the principles of Classical education (via The Well-Trained Mind) for the past two years. And while I will be continuing to teach language arts and math the way they recommend, we are going our own way for everything else.

More art history! More American and local history! And if my kids want to spend five weeks learning about butterflies, then, by George, we are going to do that! And we are going to spend more time learning French, because we like it, and more time outside, because it makes all of us happier.

This is not a judgment against Classical education. If it works for your family, then work it. Parts of it work for us, and parts of it don't. You need to take your kids' personalities as well as your own temperament in mind when you're deciding on a homeschool style.

It isn't failure to see that what you've been doing hasn't worked. To see that it doesn't work, and to change it, is a wonderful thing. That kind of flexibility, that ability to tailor education to our children, is why many of us decided to homeschool in the first place.

“I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.”
--Thomas Edison

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