The beauty with homeschooling is that you, as the teacher and parent, get to choose what your children learn. In our family we put a huge focus on teaching our family life skills. We want them to succeed in life, no matter what their predominant talents are. But, how do we accomplish this?
I spoke about our Jurisdiction system in a previous post. Yes, chores are part of homeschooling! Chores teach your children responsibility and household management. But, that is just the start of producing well educated and responsible children.
Every ‘teacher’ has a different idea of what makes up a good education. I want my children to have a well rounded education that will not only teach them how to succeed in their work life but also succeed in their personal life. To do this my children need to not only be academically intelligent but also capable of surviving in every day life, no matter what obstacles are presented to them.
Let’s start with home economics.
This one is pretty easy to see. We all have to eat and clean in order to live and survive. Therefore, our children help with the cooking, cleaning, and planning of our meals. They take turns helping with meal preparation and clean up depending on which day of the week it is. If it’s their day off to help with clean up after dinner then they usually help with the meal preparation.
If I’m not having a particularly organized day then they help me decide what options we have for dinner by looking in our meat freezer and thinking what meals we can make with the options they find in it. They help with the meal preparation in it’s entirety. This teaches them cooking, healthy eating choices, the proper structure of a meal, and how to time everything so it can be warm on the table at the same time.
Of course, there’s more to home economics than just eating and cleaning! In our home it involves our animals as well. 🙂
Caring for Sick and Injured Animals
Being home they learn how to care for animals, not just their pets and our livestock, but also wild animals that may need some help. We’ve learned how to care for orphaned wild birds, injured chipmunks and even orphaned raccoons.
These skills can be read about in books but they can only be properly learned hands-on. Homeschooling allows a child to have this opportunity. How better to learn compassion than caring for an injured or orphaned animal? This is difficult to do while in school, but when homeschooling your children’s schedule will be more open to learn from life’s constant adventures.
A skill my husband has taught my children is butchering. I never had this type of experience growing up as I lived in the city and went to public school. We always shopped at our local grocery store. I heard my parents did a little bit of butchering when I was real young but nothing when I was old enough to remember. Consequently I’m a little bit of a baby when it comes to butchering.
Due to this skill my children know how to identify the various body parts inside of a rabbit, deer, pig, and chicken (just to name a few). The first time they help with butchering can be a little hard emotionally for the child, especially if they helped care for the animal. But, in the middle of it they tend to loosen up and start to learn the different parts that make up the animal. Biology 101! I had to wait until high school to take that class!
Marcel and Felicia love ‘their girls’. It’s funny actually. Marcel has grown quite attached to his little ladies. There is so much to learn with beekeeping that we really had no idea. We assumed that because they were bugs that lived on their own before, that they would mainly continue to live on their own. This has not been the case!
Because bees are domesticated insects they need to be cared for, or they will die. Marcel and Felicia have taken it upon themselves to learn everything they possibly can on the little critters.
We have a cooking contest probably 2-3 times a year. This consists of our children dividing up into 3 teams of 2-3 kids a piece. They get to choose what kind of food they are going to cook, the region the food is from (they usually choose a theme of some sort), and how many courses they are going to prepare. They are graded/scored on all these items.
When doing this the children not only learn about the culture of whatever area they are cooking for but they learn the life skills of cooking, clean up, getting along with others, organization, and table preparation. Nowadays these skills are a lost art. When I was in school they basically taught me the food pyramid (which was wrong, by the way) and an extremely basic study of cooking. I remember none of what my teacher tried to teach us.
Why do my children work so hard to win these contests? Because, they are competitive! There is a prize for the winning team, of course. It usually consists of going out for the day with Mom and Dad but sometimes it’s skating or a special trip of their choice. However, I’m not sure my kids care so much for the prize as they do in just beating their siblings.
Every Tuesday we have a piano teacher come to our home and give three hours of piano lessons. My kids usually start getting lessons when they are around six years old. It took about seven years of lessons from our beloved teacher when we found out he was fluent in German! Now he comes for four hours on Tuesday’s and gives them 30-60 minutes of German as well, depending on how long the piano lessons go on for that day. My children also purchased Rosetta Stone to supplement their learning of German that they do a few times through the week.
Music is so important for a child’s development that I can’t imagine school without it. I did learn a little music when I was in school but since it was all extra-curricular I only spent a term on it. I admit that a few of my kids aren’t as eager as others so they’re learning music only because I continue to pay the teacher. It can be a little work to make sure they practice but that’s what our white board is for. Hey, whatever it takes!
Art happens when I feel up to doing it. Occasionally I will take a fine art class and bring a child or two with me to also take the class. Sometimes we purchase art kits that interest one of our children.
Recently though we’ve been attending a homeschoolers art class twice a month that has been excellent! This teacher has taught my children mosaics, painting, clay sculptures, drawing, even tiles! He taught what my kids wanted to learn. You can’t get much more individualized than that!!
You can find a similar class by looking into homeschool co-ops, and even on Craigslist. If you socialize with other homeschoolers they can usually tell you about other types of classes around that you would like to see your children benefit from, and they’re usually pretty reasonably priced as well!
Learning Opportunities Are Everywhere!
I guess, by writing all of this, by point really is that you can teach your children in so many different ways. I believe that teaching through a textbook is the worst way (in most cases) to encourage a child to learn. Textbooks encourage memorization, not education. There is a huge difference!
Those that came out of public school have a hard time grasping this. I know I did! Being raised in the system I was taught to memorize. Once I finished taking the test in class any information that was once in my head quickly left. I assumed this was just due to my lack of memorization skills, even though I was an A/B student. However, I found out that this was quite common.
In my next post I’ll write about how I teach my children the three R’s. I don’t do anything special or extensive. You’ll find I like to keep things simple. 🙂