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Homeschooling not working?
I’m a member of several homeschooling groups and email loops, and the most common questions are all related to, “It’s a battle to get my child to do her work. I thought homeschooling would be better for my child, but it’s all tears and yelling. For both of us. I may have to put her back in school.”
The specifics vary, but many parents new to homeschooling are trying to recreate a public school environment in their home and finding that it doesn’t work. It’s not their fault. Most of us went to public school; it’s what we know. We’re taught that this is the only way to get an education. That children won’t learn if we don’t tell them what to learn and force them do so. We shouldn’t be surprised when we find homeschooling not working under these circumstances.
The truth is humans come into this world curious and craving new experiences and knowledge. If you doubt that, spend twenty minutes with your favorite three-year-old, and count how many questions he asks. (Okay, you can stop counting at 100.) At the age of forty, I still love to learn, but I always felt that school was getting in the way of my education. (Apparently Mark Twain agreed with me.) I made excellent grades in school, because my learning style and memory happened to align with the way public school functions. Not everyone is so fortunate. Many parents realize this and bring their children home for homeschooling.
But what do these parents do once they get home? The same things that didn’t work in the school. Sitting at the kitchen table with text books, pencils, and paper spread everywhere. Or maybe they even go all out and set up a school room. A cute desk or two, a white board, posters, and a bookshelf or twenty. (Because all homeschoolers seem to have an unerring sense for finding every educational book or textbook that comes within ten miles of their home.)
But there are other ways to learn. In fact, it’s pretty hard to not learn. It may not look like the learning you did in school, but they’re learning. Really, though, how much of what we “learned” in school did we really learn? There’s a reason that people don’t seem to be “smarter than a fifth-grader.” We don’t remember any of that. However, do you remember how you felt when you ran across a topic in a class that truly interested you? That little rush of excitement? The disappointment when the teacher moved on to another topic? Or maybe it was a class you loved. Either because of the subject, or maybe just because the teacher found a way to make the class engaging. I’d bet you remember more from that class or topic than most of the rest of your school career.
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