Reflections of an old school, homeschool mom

It’s decision-making time again. Do you send the kid back to school or bite the bullet and homeschool? Tough choice, either way. It has been 10 years since my last homeschool outing. I have seen the outcome of a variety of homeschool philosophies. Analyzing my methods and other homeschool methods, I ask, did they work, did my efforts pay off?

Exploration at Salt Lake City by Melinda Prophet

Exploration at Salt Lake City, photo by Melinda Prophet

The goal of any school program is to prepare children for adult life. In my opinion, after 12 years of education, they should be able to balance a checkbook, plan a budget, prepare healthy foods, and have some idea how to make a living. They may not have all the skills yet to support a family of their own, but they should know what they are good at. This may seem like a no-brain er but it’s been my experience that few teenagers graduate with these skills.

With child led learning and limited structure, individuals easily discover what they enjoy. Given time and opportunity, children begin crafting and drawing, discover landscape design,  mechanics, scientific observation, or computer coding,  without the prodding of a parent or teacher. Natural talents come to the fore.

That being said, I believe the success of a homeschool program depends largely on the parent. (I say parent because there is usually one person that takes responsibility for the child’s education, even though it might be a cooperative endeavor.) Too much freedom or too much control does not make for a balanced adult. It is not necessary to create a public school environment at home, but, a child left to do anything he or she feels like doing, every day, will not understand why they don’t fit in the real world as an adult.

Work ethic is of utmost importance. Help the child understand the value of work, getting along with others, that life is tough sometimes and you have to do things you don’t want to – and they will be able to support themselves at a good paying job. Persons such as these are valuable in the work a day world. Additional skills such as management, public speaking, critical thinking, analytical process, and reasonableness all add to their dollar value. It may not seem like it matters now, but it will to them later.

Don’t try being super mom or dad! It won’t help. Relax, enjoy your time together, do lots of fun stuff. You will make mistakes, you will miss something you should have done, you will have regrets. This will happen whether your kid is in public school or at home. And don’t try to make your kid super kid either. You will end up paying their therapy bills later!!

Self motivated learning is key.  If your child knows how to go about learning something without being directed or taught, he can essentially continue to add to his skill set his entire life. Acquiring knowledge will not depend on her ability to pay for education.  (Let’s face it, the majority do not have these funds.) She will not need a mentor or to become an apprentice. (Very limited opportunities here, since we are all trying like crazy to make a living.) If  they have the will to do and learn, they can succeed. The disadvantaged will have bit more advantage.

A parent’s inclination is to protect their child from every negative influence and sad consequence. Obviously this is not possible. The most successful people can deal with adversity with calmness and grace. To teach this to our children is a necessary challenge. What more can we ask of ourselves as parents.

 

Related post:  ‘Lifelong learning through play‘.

Photo Credit: Melinda Prophet of Sea Street Massage homeschools her two children.

 

 

 

 

Karen Olson

About Karen Olson

Karen Olson is an artist working in metal. Her blogs offer a global perspective, a celebration of art and culture. She 'lives like a tourist' in Midcoast Maine where she makes her home and finds inspiration for art and life in her travels. Follow her creative passion with Renuko Style at renukostyle.com and Coastal Collage, a Bangor Daily News Blog at coastalcollage.bangordailynews.com