Does homeschooling naturally attract parents who love learning or does homeschooling make you naturally want to know more? Or do I just end up surrounding myself with homeschooling parents who are life-long learners like me?
I am not the mother who sits around reading the classics for fun. I don’t stack books of Chesterton and Plato next to my reading chair. I’ve tried. I just can’t. And, yet, I still have feelings like this is something I’m “supposed to do.” I really wonder how many homeschool parents really are like this “ideal”? And how many instead just have these voices telling them they aren’t quite doing their best because they aren’t reading for knowledge instead of just enjoyment.
My hypothesis: the number of these classically-learning parents is not as many as we think. Despite the pervasive appearance on social media that all homeschooling parents are overachievers who settle for nothing less than the best and oldest and most challenging books, I don’t think that’s the reality. I propose that we fun-readers aren’t the minority but, instead, the majority.
And that’s okay!
Maybe one day I will make these hard reads a priority. For now, I am trying to allow myself to follow down the rabbit trails and where my interests take me. I am definitely more willing to spend time following my own paths because I truly care about the subject. When Mom is more excited to learn, it will naturally spill over into the home life and conversations as a family.
What if my interest drove the learning instead of letting the curriculum guide dictate?
The more I dig into modern history, the more I realize that there are more and more events of which I know next to nothing. The history that we were taught in school always started in ancient history and worked forward. The teacher would inevitably run out of time, and the school year ends to pick back up early next year. If you even took history the next year. I don’t remember a class ever getting past World War 2… Even then, how much of it did I actually understand or care about?
If we don’t want the same for our kids, why would we approach subjects the same way? Making it meaningful and showing the connections means way more than dates and names memorized for a test.
The book historical fiction book you are reading about World War II led to a non-fiction book and some web searches. Tie this in to family learning with picture books. Discuss the hero of the Holocaust with Dad over supper and let them overhear. Show them connections to the current events in Europe.
How much more impactful would it be to read about an event that happened in the lifetime of the family member who is still living. Let great-granddad tell you about their experience first-hand. Go look up more facts for your own understanding and share them as you drive the kids to choir in the car.
Tie it back in. It’s real life history happening in your own family. The opportunities for these questions will pass away if you don’t seize the moment while you and they are interested.
What if I worried less about what I don’t know?
If you don’t know about it, it’s much more difficult to talk easily and freely about it. However, when our family reads a book together about something or someone that I am already familiar with, more learning happens for everyone. We are more likely to dive deeper into the topic, and I can add in facts from my previous learning.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I spend weeks researching in preparation for the subject we are going to talk about. That’s just adding stress and an unachievable goal to my life, and I know it won’t usually happen.
Keep it fun. Read what interests you. Write down topics that you want to learn more about. Search for podcasts that cover a certain event in history. And maybe even plan kid curriculum and books around something you want to know more about.
I often say that I have learned more history as an adult by reading historical fiction books than I ever did in school. Although not classic literature, these books have put in my head a peg on which to hang dates, names, and places of real life events. Then, when I hear about or research them further, this history is more real to me. Even if something sounds questionable in a book or is proven wrong through my research, it still took me down an interest trail and piqued my interest. This is what we’re trying to do with our own kids, right? They can only be interested in that which they have heard.
What if I intentionally modeled learning for my kids?
Kids do what they see Mom and Dad do – for better or worse. If you aren’t constantly doing your own reading and self-education, your kids aren’t watching lifelong learning be modeled to them. Show them what you want your kids to become. Make the effort.
Remember! Seeing Mom read on her phone just looks like playing on the phone to the kids. Pick up a book. A real paper book. Let them see you take notes in it. Allow them to overhear the deeper conversations with your friends as you discuss the world, your books, and your current ponderings.
And whatever you do! Quit telling people you “just don’t have time to read.” It’s not a badge of honor to be busy. It just means you don’t make it a priority. Someday that comment might come back to bite you from your own kids’ mouths.
If you are the classical, dedicated parent with Virgil on your nightstand, keep trucking on. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and not just because someone told you that’s what you’re “supposed to do”. Be the awesome adult you want the kids to be. Show them learning is lifelong… and find a way to do it so it’s still fun. Even if it’s enjoyable, it still counts.
Families don’t need big elaborate plans and curriculum to learn together. Kids do need actively learning parents and other adults who model learning for them in their everyday lives. Invite the kids into your adult reading and learning. Show them that education doesn’t stop when school stops. Be the lifelong learner you want them to be one day.