Monday, October 15, 2012

Home Schooling With Love

Having quite a bit of experience as a homeschooler, I can stand back a little now and give some encouragement and some cautions about methods of teaching your children at home.

1.Do not forget to be a mother. Sometimes young mothers, in the middle of noise and hurry and pressure to perform well, will take on a strict teacher-mode and fail to develop closeness with her children. With anything that the children are learning, let love be the motive for it. If you love your children, you will find that you can teach them what is good and right and essential, without being harsh.  Eventually you will find that the children sense your love and concern for their well-being and will allow their will to be in harmony with yours.  Harsh, sharp rebukes can be necessary at times, but let them be so few, and for such important things, that your children will remember them well and be able to count them on one hand.

2. If you are teaching them in one room, or at one table, together, avoid holding up the whole works for 20 minutes while you try to sort out the what and why of the behavior of one child. It is not necessary to grill one of your students over and over until you get the right answer to "Why are you chewing on your pencil?" or "What did I tell you to do?"  This amounts to no more than the the methods of public schools. Sometimes a child will not hear, not remember, loose his concentration, or not understand instruction. To turn the class into an investigative judgement is to lose the entire spirit of homeschooling. Bring that child close to your side,  or take them to a private place.

Note: See first comment on this post--take the offending child to a private place and deal with bad behavior, rather than spending time in front of the other children trying to get them to straighten up. First of all, however, make sure the behavior is worth the effort, and make sure it is important enough to have an "event." Some things can be dealt with in other ways, more quickly, and some things warrant more attention.

3. Practice being a loving parent rather than a harsh ruler. Consult with older women who have homeschooled their children to find out if there is anything you can do to create more cooperation with your children, or be a more effective teacher.  My own belief is that a disobedient child makes a harsh parent, but a cooperative one puts the parents at ease.  If you as a parent have children that constantly argue or stall your lessons with bad behavior, you need to take some time out to instruct them on manners, obedience and behavior.  Instead of interrupting the class with reprimands, begin the class by setting the rules of order. Older women may have something to contribute to this subject and be able to help you become firm and loving in your teaching.

Children should love to learn, and this is largely determined by the attitude of their mother. If she approaches learning with an air of discovery, and responds to it with joy, her children will be eager learners. If mother approaches homeschooling as a grueling job that must be done, instead of with a hopeful attitude of discovering life together, homeschooling will not be a good experience. Once they have learned to read and write, and have developed a love of learning, their mother will not have to stand over them and monitor them and teach and explain every little thing. The goal of homeschooling should be to work yourself out of a job, as the children begin to work by themselves, motivated by their love of learning. Note: choose interesting curriculums and books, and find things that are not "homeschool material" to stimulate their interest in life: a magazine on home building or house plans, a book about boats, a book or video about exploration, books about the weather, etc.

4. Do not be a strict teacher during lessons, and a loving mommy after school.  Your children will see a loving mother when there is no school, and a commanding schoolmaster during class. This is no better than some of the harsh schools of old, and will not breed the kind and gentle spirit. 

5. Abandon teaching materials if you find yourself too often angry.  If this is happening, it might be time to examine the type of teaching materials, or curriculum that you use. Is there some reason that using it fails to bring joy to your heart and light to your eyes, which you could exude to your children?  Perhaps it is time to find teaching materials that will also put the Word of God in the hearts and minds of both mother and children.  Or, maybe you could write your own, putting the sunshine and love of life in it that you want your children to have in life.  

You have the freedom to come and go as you please, and I personally think home schoolers should not be afraid to show their faces in public and let the world know they exist. They spread their influence that way, as people get to see whole families together going to various functions and sights. Look for opportunities for free muscial concerts, gardenning shows, trips to government areas, scenic excursions, etc. or just plan your own events. You are not obligated to do "real school" inside the house every single day of the week.

6. Do not imitate some ineffective teaching methods. I realize parents, especially if they are first-generation homeschoolers, have a lot to overcome. They may be adopting teaching methods carried over from their own education, which are not effective. Sometimes the public school is the only structure they have known, and these may not always work in a home school situation. 

7. Keep your goals in mind.  It is good to learn all kinds of facts and things, but there must be a spiritual aim undergirding it all. They must, like Jesus, grow "in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)  If you impart a tremendous amount of knowledge toward your children and they are not maturing and  growing spiritually, you need to re-think your methods and your materials.
In My Footsteps
by Melinda Byers

8. See what response your children have to different learning methods. I am sure there are plenty of examples for this, from parents whose children responded better to one thing, than to another. Some children are better audio-learners and some enjoy learning on their own. Others are very visual and some are very hands-on active children who learn by doing. However, at the root of all this is the child's respect for you and willingness to to cooperate with you.

9. Give your children the main reason, and other reasons for home education.  It is important to bring your children to maturity so that they may one day be able to teach their own children. If you will tell them this, they may have a greater purpose for learning.There are probably many  reasons to homeschool, and these reasons can be included also. It is essential to regularly go over these reasons with your children, explaining them and discussing them with them. This way , they will see a greater purpose than just learning things.

Share your family goals with your children and they will see a greater purpose for learning. Such goals will vary from home to home, but they might include good manners, compassion for others, honesty, good work ethics, loyalty, being open to learning, discernment (knowing the difference between what is valuable, or good, and what is not), appreciation of the creation, true inner beauty, and the roles in life they might have.
Mother and Child
by Francis Coates Jones

10. Enjoy the special tendencies toward talents and interests while you teach them. Exposing them to art, poetry, music, literature, speech and drama (all appropriate, of course) can bring such a sense of creativity and peace, and absorb them expressing the exuberance they feel about life. If you appreciate these things, your children probably will too.In education, the arts are honey to a child's heart.

11.Make the atmosphere of the home a priority.  It is a mistake to conduct any kind of academic teaching in the midst of a house that is too messy and disorganized to find anything. Even a child who is reading a book on his own, needs to have peace and order around him. While it is true that some people do not care about a mess around them, and can concentrate on anything, the home, a combination of the people and the dwelling place, is a sacred place that invites the presence of Christ in its midst. 

 I believe children should be surrounded by cleanliness and beauty, so that homeschooling will be imbedded in their minds as some of the happiest times of their lives.  It might be necessary to add another homeschool subject: housekeeping, which can be taught at the end of a day in preparation for the next day. Or, should the family not be able to manage that, the homeschool day can begin with housekeeping.  This gives the mother a chance to show her children how she likes everything to be, where she likes everything to go, and what the over all "picture" of the home should be like. They should stand back and look at their work (housekeeping) and say, "it is good."

12. Encourage each child to glorify God in their appearance each day by being clean, groomed and well dressed.  There is no such thing as an ordinary day: every day is special in God's eyes, and every day is a gift. There is no "blue Monday" or "Thank goodness it's Friday". Each day is beautiful, and each child can learn to make life lovely by the way they approach a day.  If school is grueling and unpleasant, your children will count the days til the weekend, when they will be "free."  By dressing up each day and approaching it with delight, a child can enjoy Monday as much as they do Friday and "days off." 

Think a little about the atmosphere of the home, before you sit down to do the studies.  Think in terms of sight, scent, sound, touch, and taste. I know one young mother who gets tea ready for her children and when they are all settled at the table drinking from their teacups and eating their treats, she reads from a book called, "Finding Favor With God and Man."  She is selective of the lessons, seeing that they are understood by the children, and frequently asks questions about the stories she reads.  Or, she reads a moral lesson from one of the McGuffey's Readers, which shows how a child learns to be wise and have good judgement.  These are scenes that will be cherished in the minds of her children. 

The home should be the first focus of homeschooling: home first, and schooling next.

Lastly, do not neglect to listen to the older people who have already taught and raised their children. If they have looked at their own failings and can warn you of something, they have something to teach you. If they see you doing something that is harming your effectiveness in teaching your children, they may have something to say that will benefit you. 

For the most part, children will be whatever you are, yourself,  so, it is good to pay attention to your moods, your attitudes and your likes and dislikes, to see if they are connected or disconnected to the love of God and His word, and that they are being used with grace..  Homeschooling children is twofold: an education and an upbringing for the children, and training in wisdom and patience for the parents.

Although there are many things you can read about homeschooling, and many aspects of it, including academic learning, I have addressed here the aspect of homeschooling with love.


Anonymous said...

As a mother with 10+ years of experience in homeschooling, I would like to add that a child should not be allowed to distract, aggravate, or take up sibling's or mother's time unnecessarily. If Mother has to constantly be talking to one child, correcting every other minute, trying to keep the child "on board" with the others, etc. she'll wear out quickly and just be frustrated. If the mother doesn't have peace from the child and the rest of the family, she'll have a terrible homeschool experience. If not corrected, some children make a habit of idly doing things that detract, distract or annoy. Neglecting little sister, who is trying so hard to learn to read, while mother constantly interrupts to correct big brother will soon be tiring for all three of them. Sister won't read, but will slide all over the chair in boredom while waiting for a moment here and there when her mother isn't correcting the other. Older brother will eventually quit listening ("tune out") as mother yaks on and on. "Joey, quit kicking the table. I said stop it now-- remember what I said? Remember our rules? Do I have to say them again? I just said stop that now. That was the fourth time Joey! now go sit over there. Joey, please don't kick that chair leg. I sent you over there to keep you quiet. Stop that now...." Instead of talking so much, it is better to take the child privately into another room and correct the behaviour early on ( If you recall there was a similar story in Gwen Webb's "Training up a child" about the mother trying to iron. ). Then the problems are "nipped in the bud" and everyone gets a fresh start. It is amazing also what a relief it is to the rest of the family to have one prone to idly distract taken care of.

Lydia said...

That is right:send the offender or take them to a private place, but don't hold up the whole school, boring them while waiting for the errant one to straighten up. That is the sort of thing that went on in the public schools, and as CHristians we must be different from the world and show good sense in our training methods. Gwen Webb did mention the idle threats as being meaningless. If you have to constantly correct the same problem, you are not being an effective parent and your training is not effective. I'd recommend Gwen Webb's "training up a CHild" (published first in the 1970's) for parent training,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. My husband and I are figuring out what home school will look like in our home. It sometimes seems overwhelming thinking of the different methods and figuring out just what we will teach and at what age we should start. Your posts about it are teaching me what is most important and helping me see the bigger picture of home schooling. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great homeschooling advice!

I liked how you said to talk to our children about why we homeschool and I think that is great!

Thanks for the encouragement to love our children while homeschooling! You are a great Titus 2 encourager =)

Anonymous said...

This is a good reminder. My teachers were harsh and unfeeling. I did not have a great desire to learn and always associated "school" with those negative experiences.

Anonymous said...

What a refreshing post! I can definitely relate to the homeschooling experience. I remember times when I would sit for long hours in my room 'doing' my work while my mother worked with my brother. Sometimes, one of us would take up so much of our mother's time that the other one would get away with doing nothing at all. That wasn't her fault, it was our scheming little minds that worked up such a clever trick. It didn't work for long. Hehe!
Thank you for your insight!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. We are just getting started on our first 'official' year of homeschooling, and I'm finding myself discouraged and frustrated sometimes. I think it's because I want my students to excel so I can prove to myself and others that our choice to homeschool was a good choice... but it's not fair to put so much pressure on a 4.5 year old! I know I need to relax a bit, and homeschool with love! Thank you so very much for the encouraging reminder. You are such a blessing to our home!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia

Up late, waiting for jam to set, then finding that I needed to sterilise more jars!

Thank you for this, I shall definitely take it on board tomorrow.


PS Love the clothes in the other post

Anonymous said...

It would have been a blessing to be given the opportunity to be home schooled or to home school my own children. What a fun experience it would have been.

I can only tell young people today to give it a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Mrs. J.

Anonymous said...

I'm also keeping a Homemaking Notebook for future homemakers in my family.

Your blog has made its way into that notebook.

Thank you for caring enough to share.

Mrs. J.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful thought provoking post! Definitely a keeper and one I will pass on to the many homeschooling families I know. Any mother, homeschooling or not will find so much inspiration! Sarah

Stephanie said...

Hi there! You have a beautiful blog that honors our Lord - thank you for the words of wisdom! I look forward to coming back and reading more of your posts. Enjoy your Sunday!

Blessing from a Sister in Christ,

Lydia said...

Thank you for dropping by, Stephanie. Your own blog header is so lovely.I hope to communicate with you often.

Neo-Victorianist said...

A very nice article.