February 12, 2013

What Really Matters in Homeschooling

If I had to boil home education down to just one necessity, it would be this: impart a love for learning. Think about it. If you love to do something, you give it a lot of time and you get pretty good at it. If our kids love learning, all we need to do is stand back and watch them go. Of course we need to be there to coach and encourage, but overall, the internal motivation fuels the learning. And when kids are doing what they love, they are happy and easier to live with too.

The key is to keep learning from being a chore. If you notice that your kids are starting to whine about your curriculum or a certain activity, change it. Find a different way to get that information across, or leave it for another day. Be willing to listen to your kids and take their preferences into account.

Another great way to foster a love for learning is to let them dive deeply into something they find interesting. If your child is into dinosaurs, let him become an expert. It's OK if he reads about dinosaurs 24 hours a day. Just think of all the science and history and reading skills he's developing. And as he talks to you about it, he's practicing his verbal skills and flexing his comprehension strategies of summarizing, visualizing, connecting and questioning.

Talking to your child about what she's interested in and what she's learning is an excellent way to build higher order thinking and communication skills.

My kids are now out of the house, and I'm glad to say they caught the learning bug. In fact, Peter (now a college graduate) has started a study/research/discussion group with his friends where they get together and talk about their recent intellectual interests, maybe even peer reviewing papers before they try to publish.

That's the goal--adults who keep on learning.

Homeschooling can seem very overwhelming, so keep it simple and keep the end in mind.


Anne said...

Really love this! Thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful timely post- thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I Have just found your blog and it's just the inspiration I needed - i am a relative newbie and somewhat reluctant homeschooler almost convinced I'm doing a terrible job!! I so wish I had the confidence to just let go and do as you describe ... But none of my kids seem to have any burning passions that I've been able to identify yet...
Apart from screen time and computer games (think minecraft) - I'd love to ask you a few questions
God Bless,
(in Australia)

kjogo said...

Hi, Jena. This is such an encouraging post. I've been trying to lead our girls down this path of learning to love to learn. In my mind, I guess I thought it would come more easily than it has. Were you ever discouraged as you pursued this learning lifestyle? I love how you share your childrens' continued pursuit of learning. It truly encourages me to keep pressing on this journey!

Jena said...


yes, I was often discouraged, or maybe had second thoughts. I didn't know anyone else who schooled this way, so I would have periods of panic that I was making a mistake and ruining my kids forever! But then I'd read a book or a magazine article (no Internet in those days!) and be encouraged again. Now that they are grown and I see the results, I have a lot more confidence, so hang in there!

Jena said...

Claire, yes, please send me your questions! You can always email me at yarnsoftheheart[at!}gmail.com.

And if your kids aren't showing interest in anything right now, maybe plan some field trips to get them out and thinking about other things. You might see a spark of interest there. :)

And you can find some interesting virtual tours on the Internet. Maybe sit down at the computer with them and research a few things. It doesn't have to take very long. Come up with a question and try to find the answer together. Mom's curiosity can be contagious.

kjogo said...

Ok - I feel better:) You write with such confidence and conviction that I tend to think you never struggled(totally my fault, not yours.) It's comforting to know that you had your own moments of doubt along the way.

Elizabeth said...

I love it!! I've just the same thing today in Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life by Pam Laricchia. Yay! I love it when I get something from several different directions!
Thank you for sharing with us! I love your blog...so encouraging.

Anonymous said...

You're so so right! Creating a love of learning is the exact reason we chose to homeschool. I don't want tests and pressures to squash that love for my son. Lovely post :)

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