I have three kids whom I homeschool (well except for the baby who is only 1!). And I don’t teach them.
Yes you read that right. I don’t teach them!
When I started to homeschool my eldest daughter I did teach her. But now I’ve decided to stop doing that. It wasn’t productive. Or as productive as I would have liked at least.
What do I mean?
What I mean is that I’m not the teacher who stands in front of the kids and tells them what they should know. Expects them to remember or recite it back to me and continues to spew out information to be remembered.
That was how I was taught. Now, I did pretty well at school. I was mostly top of my class. I got mostly A’s throughout highschool and A’s at college before I went off to study Law at university. By most people’s standards I did pretty well. And I loved school too!
My Little Secret…
Shall I let you in on my little secret? I think I did well at school because I loved to study. Yes, I was a GEEK!! I was that obnoxious nerd who sat in the front row and always raised her hand even when a question wasn’t asked. And always took pride in having excellent grades. I loved the library and could spend hours there going through the pages of all different kinds of books. I especially liked the old ones that were printed on those old fashioned printing presses where you could close your eyes and feel the letters embossed on the thick yellowing paper. They smelled great! Yes, my horrified friend, I smelled books. I told you I was a geek!! But I bet you didn’t believe me!
My teachers at school in Barbados didn’t have to encourage me to learn. I was already willing. And so, when I moved to the UK as a teenager to a school that was, how shall I say, shockingly below average, I had a good study ethic that carried me through a time where it would have been very easy to slack off.
What I’ve Discovered Through Homeschool
Our homeschool has taught me a lot about the process of learning. I’ve found that information is retained better if the person is feeding that information to their own brain. And what’s more, they retain it longer!! Basically, you can learn more effectively if you teach yourself!
Think about something you’ve spent hours reading or learning about that you did on your own volition. Where no one had to ask you to do it to pass an exam or submit a paper. Generally those things you willingly study are things you have a passion for, a natural interest in or are particularly good at. The more interested you are in something, the more you will take a hand in feeding that information to your brain. And consequently, the more information you will know on that topic.
Can you see the catch in excelling in education? In order to willingly feed your brain, you need to be interested in the information. This can be quite difficult when you have a single-minded child. Or where your child is faced with a series of dull high school subjects. How can you get your kid interested and get them to feed their own brains?
I don’t have the space to go into all of that in this post. Although you can read this book by Joanne Calderwood which I highly recommend called The Self Propelled Advantage if you’d like to know more. But for now, I’ll briefly give you a gist of how this happens in our home.
Getting Kids to Excel in Education
This is why I love homeschool. Kids are naturally curious and interested in EVERYTHING!! My job, is to try and not KILL that curiousity!! Something I was close to doing when I tried to ‘teach’ my oldest child the traditional way.
My second job is to spark an interest in nearly everything. Which generally isn’t hard with young ones! But I’ve picked up some tricks along the way!
Another element occurs when your kid starts independently feeding their brain with school information without you asking them to. I’ve reached this stage with my oldest who is 8. Just the other Sunday night she was begging and pleading with me to stay up a bit later to do her maths when it was already past her bedtime! She wanted to work ahead in her school so that she could have some extra play time the following day! Maths has never really been her favourite subject either.
Which brings me to another element. Which is where you willingly feed information to your brain even when you’re not really interested in it.
What You Teach, You Know
I’ll have to expand on those elements in another post. But for now, you know why I don’t teach my kids. My role is more like a guide who points them in the right direction if they’re a bit lost and confused. Otherwise, they pick up the information and run with it! Ever heard the phrase ‘What you teach, you know’? It’s the underlying premise behind this idea. You know something much better if you can teach it. My kids pretty much teach themselves!
Kids spend hours each day pouring themselves into various activities. What things are your kids naturally teaching themselves?