My Education Philosophy

education and home schooling(photo by my daughter, Meg, taken at Lincoln Log Cabin in Lerna, IL)

I've been studying and thinking about education all my life. In kindergarten I brought home worksheets to play school with my little brother. In elementary school I would take mental notes about how I would do things differently when I was the teacher. When it was time to go to college, I didn't think twice about my major; I was going to be a teacher. Then in 1994 I took a teacher's dream job--I began a program of individualized instruction with my son. He was allowed to follow his interests without going through a packaged curriculum. I stressed reading good books and having interesting experiences. Now he's graduated from our home-based school with a full ride scholarship to the University of Chicago. Along the way, we added his two sisters to our "classroom." One is an artist, the other an athlete. All three are completely different and uniquely delightful.

The foundation of our home school is (was) the understanding that every human being is born with a desire to learn. And we as teachers have the fun of fostering that natural desire, giving it opportunity and encouragement to grow.

In a nutshell, I believe the best education is one filled with freedom to explore with plenty of time to pursue interests and develop talents.

After a lifetime of  unschooling and interest-led learning, my youngest child chose public high school because she really wanted to be in sports. And since I believe in letting my children follow their interests, I let her. She played basketball and ran cross country and track while taking Tae Kwon Do on the side. She has done well in her classes and finds time in her off hours to pursue her passions. As I write, she's using YouTube videos to teach herself how to play the guitar. :) Every child is different, and as parents we have to help our kids find what works for them and what keeps their love of learning alive.

I believe in...

1. letting children have the time and freedom to discover and pursue their interests.
2. offering interesting things (sometimes "schoolish" things) to see if it peaks their interest.
3. putting aside books and curriculum if they bore or frustrate my kids.
3. keeping the end in mind (college?) and preparing them in ways that align with their learning styles and interests.
4. being honest about what they need on a high school transcript in order to meet their lifetime goals. Some of those things might not be on their list of favorites (like math), but the student must understand their importance and be given any help they need to succeed.

I have graduated from homeschooling. I say it that way because it was a very life-altering event! Peter moved to college in 2008, Meg moved out of the house and started college in our town in 2010, and this summer (2012) made it officially official. Our last child, Missa moved away to college just a couple weeks before Peter graduated from the University of Chicago and Meg moved to India to volunteer at a school.

But my teaching continues. Just yesterday Missa and I were talking about how tornados are formed, and since Meg is in India, we have a lot of conversations about how to stay healthy. It's different, of course, because I'm no longer the one responsible for their education, but I'm still Mom and that will never change.

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