I mention quite often the concept of living outside the box and/or living a lifestyle of learning, but I don’t always offer concrete examples of what this might look like (except for the series I did on a Lifestyle of Learning). Today, I want to offer you some practical, concrete examples of taking your homeschool to a new level by taking your homeschool out of the box.
-Pray over what the Lord sees as important to your homeschool and ask Him to release you from any preconceived notions of what school looks like.
-Read through Proverbs. This is a book from a father to a son on education and what things are important. Consider using Proverbs as the basis of your devotions with your children for the school year.
What If I Have Already Chosen my Curriculum?:
-Don’t think you have to pitch all your shiny new curriculum. It has its place and can be integrated into your homeschool without destroying your child’s love of learning.
-Never let the curriculum be the driving force. The moment you start to feel bogged down by your curriculum, is the very second it is time to stop everything and take a break to reassess where you are going. Go back to Getting Started.
-Regularly ask your children how they feel about what they are learning. Also, listen and watch for cues from them on how the curriculum is impacting them…or not.
-Don’t be afraid to change curriculum. If you have been using it for a while and you see the light draining from your child’s eyes, it is ok to let that curriculum go and look for something else. Yes, even in the middle of a school year.
-Write out the goals you believe the Lord wants to see accomplished in your homeschool. From there, brainstorm how real life meets these goals. Leave the curriculum manufacturers out of the picture for just a bit so you can really focus on what truly matters.
-The fewer the textbooks, the better. Textbooks have their place, but the really meaty stuff rarely comes from a textbook.
-Get your hands on great books. There are lists out there. There are curriculum out there focused on great books. The library should be your friend. (Note: I am seeing a disturbing trend in librarie. Many are leaning toward carrying only books that are absolute twaddle as they cull their shelves of classics and solid literature. Beware!) Your own bookshelves should be the home of great books.
-Stop seeing extras as extras. Your son’s love of art is not an extra. Your daughter’s interest in entomology is not an extra. Be willing to put focus…and, if need be, money…on these areas of interest.
-Read curriculum reviews, always keeping a Biblical perspective at the forefront. A good site to visit is Curriculum Choice. They offer solid reviews of nearly everything out there.
-Don’t expect your curriculum to be perfect. No curriculum can be everything you need. It can come close, but it will always miss the mark in some way. Again, do not let your curriculum drive your homeschool. God drives your homeschool.
Living the Homeschool Life:
-Take trips. No, not necessarily field trips because often field trips are more for the parents than for the kids. I’m talking museums, fire stations, dairies, historical sites with just your family and an open dialogue. So much can be learned by walking and talking your way through the places you go. Yes, even the grocery store.
-Invest in memberships. Space museums, historical parks, zoos, etc are all great places to spend your homeschooling dollars because you will get homeschooling in live action and life integration. Plus, there are often perks with these memberships where your family can dig even deeper.
-Always choose real life over reading about it. We all know that reading about building a birdhouse is not nearly as effective as actually building one. If you can’t create a real life experience, look for other ways to get your child immersed in what they are learning. The more a child touches, tastes, feels, and experiences to drive home their lessons, the better their education. (Check out Tactile Tuesday at Educating Laytons for hands-on ideas for your child.)
-Learn with your child. This aspect of homeschooling has to be one of my most favorite! I get to learn all the things I did not retain from my school years. And this fact does not make me a bad teacher. In fact, I recently read that the best teachers are those who love the subject more than they know the subject. (from Upgrade by Kevin Swanson) My children have caught my excitement because they see passion in what I teach them.
-Remember God’s ways are not man’s ways. While some of us have to comply with state standards that seem to stifle our creativity, rest assured the hoops you jump through part of the time do not need to define your homeschool all of the time. Hand your homeschool over to Him and let Him grow and multiply it!
-Get outside! The out of doors is an amazing place and a field ripe for learning. Nature hikes, time to study the world God has created, and just good old fashioned fresh air are things that enhance learning. Let your children wonder at the world around them!
-Stay inspired! Keep your Bible near you at all times. Read books that give you food for thought. Listen to audios that challenge you. Have magazine subscriptions that point you toward things that matter. Invest in friendships that spur you on. Go to homeschool conventions that inspire you. Consider it all your continuing education as a mom. Stay passionate, stay inspired! Your children will see it and gravitate toward it and become inspired themselves!
While I have not offered you defined specifics in this post, I hope I’ve given you a place to start and some practical tips to get you headed in the right direction. It is my deepest desire that homeschool moms find delight in homeschooling their children and in turn, their children find delight in a lifetime of learning. These sorts of things cannot be found in a box.