Category: homeschooling

I Didn’t Notice School Had Begun (Relaxed Homeschooling)

The school bus passed yesterday and it reminded me that another school year had begun. School doesn’t begin at our house. But it doesn’t end either. I don’t have any opposition to starting school or new notebooks and new curriculum. But for us, learning is too intertwined in our lives to mark it with stops and starts. That’s just the way we roll. And it’s fine if you roll differently.

It’s hard to think outside of schedules and calendars and school years when we’ve been so ingrained in that lingo. But if we can ever just stop and look past our time tables and the way everyone else is doing it and just peel back all the stuff and remember what learning is, it gets easier.

And whether it’s Saturday night or Monday morning, we learn. We learn without deadlines to make us grumpy or timelines that compare us to others who aren’t us.

If deadlines and tight schedules are your thing, I think you should keep it. But if it isn’t, and it’s stressing you, you need to know it isn’t necessary.

Not that we don’t have order or schedules or times set aside for learning specific things, but I’ve learned that life is too precious to be crowded out by the expectations of others. Time is too fleeting to let “school” elbow our relationships aside.

I don’t want to be ruled by charts and clocks and tests and grades. That’s not real life. Life is learning about anything and everything all the time, beside the ones you love.

And if you want to know more about this relaxed style of homeschooling we do, I’ve written an book all about it: Think Outside the Classroom: A Practical Approach to Relaxed Homeschooling. I hope it brings you some peace.

This is what a customer wrote me just last week:

“Kelly – I just wanted to thank you for your “Think Outside the Classroom” book. I consumed it just a couple of hours one quiet afternoon last week and could have done cartwheels through the living room as I finished. It was so freeing!!!” -Julie

So Much Good Stuff to Inspire Your Homeschool Year

Homeschooling Myth Busters Series

Part 2: Socialization

Part 3: Sheltering

Part 4: “Proof is in the Puddin’”

Part 5: Academics

Part 6: Only One Way to Learn

Myth Buster Extra: How Do You Teach?

Embracing the Homeschool Advantage: A Living Education

Homeschooling: Help When You Fear You’re Not Doing it Right

How to Homeschool When You Think You Can’t

Homeschool For Free

Homeschooling Preschoolers Naturally

Operation Conversation: The Missing Ingredient to a Great Education

Homeschooling on Accident: Don’t Fret the Interrupted Day

Teaching English Simply

Creating a Lifestyle of Learning

 

How We Do Relaxed Homeschooling: Life is Our Classroom

Lindsey commented on “Summer Family Happenings at the Crawfords” and asked a question I thought I would answer in a post. Here is her question:

“I know you have often posted about non-book learning being a great education, and I clearly see through your children’s talents that’s working well for you all, but wondering specifics of how to do this. Example, say my son wanted to take pictures all day I’m not sure I would happily say yes as I would feel there are other things in the day to accomplish. Or letting my kids get on the internet…I’m super stingy with the internet and screen time in general. I just would really like more specifics if you ever get the chance.”

For someone not familiar with what I call a relaxed approach to homeschooling, there are lots of posts like “Schooling Has Nothing to Do With Real Education, parts 1, 2 & 3” as well as my ebook Think Outside the Classroom, to familiarize yourself with this multi-faceted approach which I won’t have room to fully explain here.

But to answer some specifics about how we implement it, even though there is no one way and every family will look quite different, I offer the following ideas:

  • First, we don’t “take off” from school, though the level of structure may vary throughout the year. Since we embrace the idea that learning happens all the time, school is always in session.
  • We implement some structure while still allowing plenty of freedom for individual pursuits. Our day typically begins with Bible (all of us) followed by a read aloud (the older ones may not stay for this), chore time, copy work, math and silent reading, during which time I may work with a younger child with reading or I may pair up an older child with a younger one. Other than those constants, most of our learning involves reading, hands-on-learning, games, video tutorials/documentaries, and discussion, not necessarily all in one day.

I’ve done different things with different children for our structured part of the day. Some have followed a few subjects through All-in-One-Homeschool. We’ve used a variety of curriculum (I like A.C.E. math) and for the younger ones, we’ve implemented games and real-life activities to teach math. Also, I’ve loved the books in A Math Adventure which offer a creative, literary spin on teaching math concepts. We don’t discredit things like construction for valuable lessons in math as well.

I add things along too, like a simple typing course which I require all my kids to learn before they can start emailing and such.

  • I give them lots of freedom to pursue their own interests, and I greatly encourage their creativity and productivity.
  • I let them try new things and make messes. Sometimes they’ll ask me if they can do something and my first inclination may be to say “no” just because it seems too hard or they’ll make a mess, or whatever. But more often than not I’m inclined to go ahead and let them. My son who loves machines wanted to try weed-eating when he seemed too young. But we let him try and his determination was enough to help him hold a machine too heavy for him. He learned very early and became good at it. Now he can not only do it well, but at the age of 9 he can also fix the machine. This applies to my girls too, with whatever endeavors they want to attempt. I have found great value in helping our kids figure out they are capable of big things. Whether it’s chopping up vegetables in the kitchen or building a table, I say give them a shot.
  • A huge part of our education paradigm involves a level of trust unfamiliar to the way we were taught to think about education. We’re so geared to the idea of “teaching children” that we forget they were created to learn and do remarkably well on their own. I am always battling my own notions but so far, I can see that there really is something miraculous in a child’s curiosity and his drive to find answers to life’s questions.  Which is probably the best summary of a relaxed-learning approach: raise questions and trust that the pursuit of finding the answer is an adequate education.

For example, I’ve mentioned previously how naturally children learn to tell time, add and subtract, tie their shoes, grow their vocabulary and a thousand other things without much deliberate effort at all. There is great freedom realizing that we don’t have to teach them everything.

  • My disclaimer: I have a child who, though she loved the idea of relaxed learning, preferred more structure. This wasn’t a problem, I simply let her follow that style.
  • The best environment for any education is a rich one, which simply means children have access to conversation, good books and tools.
  • We don’t have gadgets (i.e. phones, games, etc.) besides a computer, which we monitor and try to utilize for educational and enrichment purposes, and while every family feels differently about technology, my thought is to keep as many distractions away that would prevent them from reading books and living life as possible in the growing years. It’s just simpler to me. My older children do have an MP3 player they are allowed to use when they mow grass or do similar work, but not any time they want.
  • We try to give them all different opportunities to create products and sell them, no matter how small the scale. There are great learning opportunities in a business model.
  • We give a lot of room for play time with the younger children, a time when their imaginations are full throttle and they are exploring, problem-solving and creating through imaginative play. We try to keep crafts and toys available that would facilitate that play, but the best kind is done when we are hands-off.

And I think it was my favorite education reformer, John Taylor Gatto who said “we don’t have to worry so much about educating children; a normal child would have to be locked up and away from life itself to keep from learning.”

Life is our classroom. Talk, read, look, listen, discover, make, build, create, play, think, tell stories, write stories–we were made to learn what we need to learn. Education doesn’t have to be so hard.

Top 5 Summer Homeschool Hacks

Homeschooling for us means school is never out. Once we started thinking outside the classroom, our philosophy of education changed drastically and brought much freedom to our lives. Because learning isn’t on a schedule. So we like variety, especially in the summer when other projects are pressing.

Here are my top 5 favorite “homeschool hacks” to make homeschooling simpler and more fun:

1. Neo K12–A huge list of educational videos especially helpful to supplement a subject study. They even have music lessons. Education Portal is another video-learning site. User discretion is advised.

2. Educational Trivia Cards–Professor Noggins Cards make learning facts on all sorts of subjects fun and easy. These are especially good for travel.

3. Nature Field Guides are excellent for accompanying romps in the woods (or park or backyard). Children love discovering and field guides are the perfect tools for making sense of the world around them.

4. YouTube.com. Using parental discretion, of course, youtube is a wealth of information and how-to for just about anything one can imagine, as well as providing inspiration for young entrepreneurs. My son who is very mechanically-minded spent two hours recently watching “How to repair small engines” and was inspired to try his hand at a real one. Browse the channels to find what you’re looking for–anything from culinary class to worm farming (our current project!) Master Chef Jr. is the favorite of my budding chefs, and one of my children is learning fashion design from the tutorials there.

5. Games. It’s because we grew up in a desk in a classroom in a school building that we probably don’t think about games as part of our school day. But games often teach in a way that makes sense to kids. Monopoly, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Chess, and Where in the World are just a few.

So have some fun and remember learning happens all the time!

The Good Life and What Matters (What School Doesn’t Teach)

One book has left me speechless. Every time I read from it. A speechless soon met with an urgent compulsion to shout from the mountains. Every word.

A Different Kind of Teacher, by John Taylor Gatto, is not just about the devastation of schooling on America (the world?), but about humanity and what makes us strong and weak. (Go now and buy the book. It will change your life. I’m not making that up. Seriously. I’ll be here waiting.)

And since I can’t quote the whole book here, or even address many of his profound points (every paragraph), there’s this one:

“Owning a home is the foremost American dream but few schools bother with teaching you how to build one.

Why is that? Everyone thinks owning a home matters.

Last year at Southern Illinois University I gave a workshop in what the basic skills of a good life are as I understand them. Toward the end a young man rose in back and shouted, ‘I’m twenty-five and I don’t know how to do anything except pass tests! If the fan belt on my car broke on a lonely road in a snow storm I’d freeze to death. Why have you done this to me?’…

Does going to school matter if it uses up the time you need to learn to build a house? Or grow vegetables? Or make a dress? Or love your family hard enough you don’t need to switch them on and off like a TV set? Education matters, of course, but only flimflam artists try to convince you that school and education are the same thing.”

What should matter is so obvious and we still believe the lie that “grades” are what matter, or awards or test scores. Our kids grow up and marry but don’t know how to serve and love and commit. They have children but don’t know how to parent. They work but become financially shackled to things for which they don’t have the money. They have nice houses but don’t know anything about having a home. They drive nice cars and wear nice clothes and take nice vacations but they need medication to deal with what’s still missing.

But none of that scares us.How am I going to pay for my kids’ college?!” I just heard a Dad panic, as if college is the magic bullet that will give his kids the good life and he’ll sacrifice everything for the illusion.

In short, we tell them they need to “find the good life” then lie to them about what that is.

In a society that raises cumulative generations of children who grow up clawing for a prize for just the prize’s sake, we lose empathy, joy, purpose and love. And that is a society that will self-destruct.

What do we do? We understand how to set our children up for real success. We give them space to learn, time to think and discover, freedom to grow and stumble, and examples of what’s valuable–relationships, work, responsibility, service and productivity.

We give them the good life.

 

Watch the WA Homeschool Conference From Home–A Gift For You!

Live Stream Me to Your Living Room!

At the 2014 Family Discipleship and Homeschooling Conference, April 25-26

Watch the preview video at www.LiveHomeschoolConference.com

I, my husband and little man Kaid will be heading to WA in a couple of weeks where I’ll be speaking at the Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference. I’m getting really excited and I pray the Lord works mightily to encourage and inspire parents and families.

And, I have a little surprise…I want to invite you to join me via live stream at the 2014 Family Discipleship & Homeschooling Conference, April 25-26 in Redmond, WA. My friends at Christian Heritage are offering all of you $5 off the Live Stream Pass, so you can join thousands of other homeschoolers for two full days of hope, encouragement and inspiration—for just $24.95. That’s not a bad deal!

Click here to receive $5 off your Live Stream Pass, or use the coupon code “STREAMKELLY”. The live stream of the 2014 Family Discipleship and Homeschooling Conference, April 25-26, will present something for every member of your family:

* Fathers will be called to loving, servant leadership and faithful discipleship in the home by looking to their heavenly Father for the perfect example of fatherhood they never had.

* Mothers will be encouraged with a fresh perspective on the big-picture “why” behind the daily routine of motherhood, as well as practical tips for keeping the “homeschool routine” from turning into the “homeschooling rat-race.”

* Young adults and children will be prepared to engage the culture for Christ with a biblical view of history, science and defending the faith. Through the lineup of dynamic speakers and practical sessions, you will be equipped to fulfill your great calling in life: making disciples of Jesus Christ – one child at a time.

Watch the preview video at www.LiveHomeschoolConference.com

“See” you there!

P.S. Click here to receive $5 off your Live Stream Pass, or use the coupon code “STREAMKELLY”.

 

 

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