When most of us daydream about our perfect homeschool, there isn’t a textbook or workbook in sight. Instead we paint a perfect picture in our mind that wouldn’t look out of place as a Victorian watercolour. Maybe there’s a rolling green hill in the background. There’s probably a large, shady tree with a happy family sitting beneath it. The smiling children certainly look peaceful as they listen to their mama read from a book that lays open in her lap. One of her children is drawing in a sketch book while another flies a kite. The littlest is crawling along after a bug. I think it’s an orange ladybird.
Your vision may look a little less antiquated than mine, but I’m guessing there are probably some similarities. I’m almost certain your vision doesn’t include a stack of worksheets.
And while I’m not suggesting that this is reality (that Victorian era mama most certainly has a maid at home, working her butt off while mum enjoys the dappled sunshine, and we do not!), we can all be making sure that our homeschool contains more of that good stuff. You know…all those things we want to do, but tell ourselves we can’t because we haven’t finished maths yet.
But what exactly are we talking about when we say ‘the good stuff’. Typically, the things that get left out are the less academic subjects, or those we think of as ‘enrichment’ subjects and activities. Things like painting and music making, baking and nature studies, reading aloud, poetry teatimes and picnics, artist and composer studies. Maybe you’re even leaving out free time, wandering aimlessly through a forest, or those fun board games that were meant to go along with your unit study.
These are the things that bring the magic and wonder into homeschool days. These are the things that separate homeschool from a bricks ‘n’ mortar institution. Without them, why are we bothering?
If we know these activities are so important, why are we leaving them out? Why aren’t we prioritising them in our homes?
Fear of failing our children.
Fear of what others will say.
Fear that we are inadequate to provide this magical childhood we so desperately want for our children.
And so we cling to the way we know- the way we were taught. We put the subjects we were told are most important, first in our homeschools, even when it pains us to do so. We teach the way we were taught, with textbooks and worksheets, even though we can see it dimming the light of wonder in our children’s eyes. We tell ourselves that we will make room for the good stuff when we are done with the important stuff.
But it’s all important.
We know this deep down. We just need to conquer our fear. Here’s a few ways we can start to do this.
- Set goals for what we hope our children will be like when their 12 or so schooling years are up. Write the goals down. Notice how few of these are related to academic performance and remind ourselves of this when we are planning our days and weeks.
- Read the works of inspiring holistic educators such as Steiner and Mason. Their passion and knowledge will soon convince you that your children truly do need these activities included in their school days.
- Sit down and google the health, happiness and academic benefits of knitting, of time in nature, of being bored…
- Notice what your children are like when these activities are included in their everyday life. They are called ‘enrichment’ studies because they truly enrich our lives.
- Revisit what we think an educated person is. Is it someone who scores well on a test or someone who can see truth, beauty and goodness in the world?
- Remind yourself that as parents committed to the holistic education of our children, that we aim to educate our whole child; head, heart and hands. Put a note in your planner if you use one, so that you are reminded of this every time you sit down to plan out your week or a lesson.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people. If you can’t find them in your neighbourhood, connect with them online. Belonging to a group of parents who share the same values makes it easier to stand firm when faced with criticism or misunderstanding from others.
- Schedule the good stuff in. With a pen, so that you know it’s important.
All of these help us to change our mindset and to find the confidence to change our homeschooling priorities. Then all that’s left to do is follow through…
Tomorrow I will share some planning ideas with you that will help make sure the good stuff happens in your homeschool every week. Maybe even every day!