We often try to teach the way we were taught or the way we think children should be taught. The hardest part about homeschooling is matching our expectations with our children’s capabilities.
Creating an Environment for Learning
Kids are smart in different ways.
One of the biggest problems in public school education is getting the right resources to the right kind of kids. Kids who struggle in learning about mathematical theory have no problem with applying the concept in a practical environment. Most of the time people don’t realize this is a serious problem because they are never offered an option to explore an alternative path.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
Our environment teaches us what we are capable of. It guides us through important developmental stages. It teaches us who to trust and how relationships work. Which means, with every relationship there is at least two personalities that immediately influences the success of your Homeschool.
You and your child.
Even if we have more than one child in our home, our love and response for each child is different. This is because they want and need different things from us. We like to focus on the learning styles of our kids, but we neglect the bigger issue of understanding the personalities that influence the homeschool environment. Any person that comes into contact with you on a regular basis, can influence your Homeschool. This includes your spouse, family members, and friends who visit. These are all variables to consider. There may be times when you can’t control how these personalities interact! What you can do is be aware of how they compete for the time and energy in your Homeschool. Figure out what kind of behavior is harmful or a distraction. Then protect your Homeschool and your core relationships by creating boundaries.
I absolutely believe that until our nation revolutionizes our nation’s education system, home education is the solution for what ails society. Your family’s ability to respond quickly to the educational needs of your family is the most important indicator of their educational achievements. This is why homeschoolers are widely successful regardless of the curriculum they use.
However, a note of caution. I have seen families jump into homeschooling without talking to their kids about it. The parents think homeschooling is great. They study the style that appeals to them. They even have an idea on how they want to teach their kids.
Unfortunately, their kids (or one of the kids) do not want to homeschool. The parents end up in a daily battle with their kid. The kid doesn’t see the benefit and they desperately want to stay in the school system. I am not saying these kinds of kids may never come around to the idea of being educated at home. I simply stress that if they are old enough to understand that their life is about to change-please involve them in the process! You can have the perfect homeschool room and still falter because everyone is not on board. Too often new home educators force new factors into their homeschooler’s environment without considering all the factors. If you and your child’s personalities are in constant conflict, instead of focusing on finding the perfect curriculum, you might want to start with working on improving your relationship with each other. There might be additional needs you need to address before schoolwork can become a priority in your home. Find a way to work together to get on the same page.
Get on the same page by discussing your goals.
What are your goals?
New homeschoolers often are inspired and then consequently feel pressured to create the perfect homeschool room. There isn’t anything wrong with this-if it is perfect for both you and your child. But wait. What if you introduce something that isn’t right for your family? Besides feeling like you are constantly swimming upstream, you can end up spending a lot of money on things you don’t need. No one needs that. Which is why when it comes to creating a learning environment for your Homeschool, consider what your top priorities are.
What is the reason you want to homeschool?
- Is your child’s relationship with home education a temporary situation or a lifelong pursuit?
- Do you feel you need to control every moment of your child’s day and learning process?
- Are you concerned about learning gaps or falling behind?
- How much prep work do you want to do?
- Are you okay with using material that needs to be supplemented or modified?
- Do you want to create your own materials or use a ready to go step-by-step material?
- Do you want to be directly responsible or do you want to give someone else authority over your child’s educational experience?
- Do you want more of a self-directed learning experience or a schoolroom experience?
- Is your focus about helping them function and contribute to society?
- Is your focus about helping them develop independently as human beings?
- Is it important that the materials you use supports your values and beliefs?
- Do you believe rote memorization is an ideal learning tool?
- Do you believe reading comprehension is essential?
- Is it important that your kids perform well on tests?
- Would you be okay if they performed poorly on tests but could verbalize the answer?
- Is it more important for them to know how to think for themselves or to recite the right answer?
These are all valid questions to explore. There will be many more to ponder. Why should you ask these questions? Taking the time to understand which ones are the most important in attaining your goals, sets the tone and focus of your Homeschool.
The great thing is, the moment your stance changes, you have the ability to do what’s right for your family anytime you want!
Understand Your Environment
The Ugly Duckling is one of my favorite stories because it reminds me how important it is to see the space we live in through the eyes of our children. It doesn’t matter how much square footage you are working with or how many bookshelves you have. An environment is more than the things that are in it. Don’t get me wrong. The physical layout of your home and materials is an influential part of your child’s world. BUT this is not the strongest factor in creating an effective learning environment. A child’s environment is so much more that teaching them what resources they can access. It is a place that helps them build confidence and develop their identity.
Let’s look at how to create an environment that nurtures and encourages trust.
- Do your children feel safe?
- Do they feel loved?
- Who do they feel cares about them?
- Do they feel their needs are being met?
- Do they feel they are accepted for who they are?
- Do they feel like they belong?
- Are they allowed to express their opinion?
- Can they alter what they are doing so it is more meaningful to them?
- Can you openly communicate with each other?
- Can they trust what is being said? Is your communication honest?
- Do they feel seen? Do they feel the family appreciates or recognizes their contributions?
- Do they feel they have a meaningful relationship with the family?
- Do they understand what it means to be a part of the community?
- Do they have the freedom to try new things?
You might think creating a beautiful Homeschool room is your way of showing how dedicated you are. It might be your way of showing love for your family, but it might be keeping you from enriching your Homeschool in a meaningful way. If your child doesn’t understand your personality, or responding to your idea of a structured environment then maybe take a moment to restructure your environment to better support theirs.
Understand Your Natural Rhythm
What does your family actually like to do? It is really easy to get caught up in the novelty of a new idea, without first considering how it fits in with your family’s natural rhythm.
Does your family like to snuggle up with you while you read to them? If your family loves to read, then introducing a morning basket, poetry tea time, or read aloud activity will go over well. Is reading a chore in your home? If your family struggles to get through a book, then every book related activity is a call to battle. Why would you do this to your family? Instead meet them where the interest is. Not a book lover? Fine. When we were kids our options were limited compared to what’s now available. Go ahead. Explore audiobooks, listen to podcasts, and stream videos.
Does your family enjoy the outdoors? Does your family enjoy sports? Get out there together as a family! A lot of the popular movements in homeschooling comes down to spending time together. Look for opportunities for shared experiences, moments to talk together, moments they feel loved. Basically, make time for the family to bond. If you like to play board games, do that. If your family culture includes video games, spend time playing video games with them.
When you have an idea of what your natural rhythm looks and feels like, it is easy to understand how new materials or ideas you can skip and which ones will benefit your Homeschool. Your family has a unique culture. Respect that by doing what works for your family. Learn to cultivate what is already there before planting something new.
When it comes to successfully homeschooling, your families’ personalities and natural rhythms need to come first. Explain your concerns and listen to theirs. You might be surprised at how much you get done once everyone is moving in the same direction!