Monday, February 22, 2010

Learning the Life

Reaching, stretching, retracting, withdrawing all fall in this ebb of life and homeschooling isn't anything but an educational pursuit OF LIFE! IMHO, if this is soooo, then WHY do we find ourselves making it more OR less than we should?  When we artificially manufacture the learning environment, do we do our children a service?  By making our homeschools strict, regimented and totally structured are we ultimately doing what is best for our children? Conversely when we are too lax ~ is this a correct description? I am thinking not challenging, not "something" our kids will need to have in their arsenal as adults ENOUGH! 

I completely "get" that many of us (I did) start out trying to recreate the environment of the school systems we may be acquainted and comfortable with, but IF learning is ALL the time and in each and every situation, does it need to be modeled after something that isn't even working that well in the general for the specifics of our children in our homes?  My daughter is being taught sewing, and she said to me, "Why don't you just pick out a pattern or two and give me those choices," instead of the trip we were making for her to pick out several patterns of her choosing out of the ENTIRE pattern book!  Oh my!! Here I had given her the unending possibilities to pursue the art of sewing, and she wanted what she perceived as something better~LESS! Happily, I can report that after I explained that she could chose and that a class of 30 kids might not be able to, despite their desire~it really took getting her in front of the choices~~~oh how much fun she had, and she came home with SEVEN PATTERNS!! and an excitement to sew! Wonder what it might have been if I had just chosen a couple with my "adult-ole lady-Mama TASTE"!??  LOL! 

Do we do this very kind of thing within our homes with all or some of our academics?  When I began homeschooling nine years ago, I purchased a "box curriculum" and salivated for a "classroom" eventually getting one and realizing that it was just a room that would require more cleaning and attention on my part!!  Yes, it had a table and bulletin board, white board, two desks AND a huge bookcase~ooooh I decorated to teach as well,~~but as we got older, we moved away from this to a HUGE bookcase system and our kitchen table and two desktop computer work stations right in our living room WHERE LIFE occurs! I am not saying that homeschooling in a special room is wrong, but I am saying that life and all of learning is better gained in the natural home environment.  It's not only cost effective, but also is a better focus.  Another example of this mindset is that there was a contest for a best homeschool makeover last year which amazed me.  Moms over the country organized and SPENT to doll up their educational space~I have been there, but knowing what I know~my vote went to a Mom who showed her living room coffee table and a few baskets of books stored underneath.  I know (only because I learned before with first hand personal experience) that it isn't necessary to have all that EXTRA stuff~but apparently I am not popular in this thinking because the winner got tons of votes with her all schoolhouse looking space! OK~not to bash, but think about learning for LIFE~does it have to be a segmented area of our homes~a segmented area of our lives?  I am not an "unschooler" in viewpoint or practice either, but unschoolers who allow natural learning within the home without forced or guided learning do have a point, albeit not as strong as the "desire driven community where a child has interests coupled with the classical learning of well thought out structured materials (this would be our aim in our home education!)! With this said, I do believe in curriculum, and in days gone by have over-schooled my children~totally run them ragged with education~BOOK LEARNING and it's not any fun when it's like this! Do we know how much is learned as we LIVE together?

The ultimate question is not what curriculum or space is used to educate but what are the long term goals of being educated.  If education is LIFE PREP 101 then we must give our children a life that is with faith and family values with the ability to learn and grow~does it take loads of money to accomplish this in boxed materials and a separate room fixed up like the one room schoolhouse? I don't think so, but rather we can learn and grow~become educated in our everyday pursuits as we LIVE together!

Just so you know, I do have a room dedicated to learning in our home~a library! But we don't school in there nor will we ever! We school right at our kitchen table or in our living room~cats in our laps and wrapped all snug in our blankies on cold winter days! THINK about this in the long term.  Focus on the goals of the long term~and yeah, it's wonderful IF it's your thing, but if it's not~don't stress! LIFE IS EDUCATION and along with some good GOOD books and math skills to a higher plane, our kids will make it! I love history and find GREAT  value in it~so we have focused on learning world history for years~it's a key to our present and future!


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