Some habits can be really hard to break.
Let’s take the notion of what education is “supposed” to look like, for example. Most people likely wouldn’t consider the assumptions about learning that have been ingrained in them since early childhood as a “habit,” but that’s exactly what they are.
Taking a look at the population as a whole, I think it’s safe to say that most people have been brought up in a traditional school setting. They sat at desks while a teacher lectured in the front of a classroom. They raised their hands to go to the bathroom. They read textbook chapters and answered section review questions, possibly without ever wondering why things were done that way in the first place.
Which brings us to where many homeschooling parents are today- stuck in those classrooms of so long ago.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that many new or prospective homeschooling parents begin (and sometimes continue) with the presumption that homeschooling has to look like school, which will inevitably mean that, should they choose this path, they’re doomed to long days of monotonous teaching.
This couldn’t be more wrong.
Why Homeschooling Doesn’t Doom You to Teaching for 5 Hours a Day
– State laws don’t specify how your children must learn.
Now, I’m no expert on state homeschooling laws, but in all of my studies of what it’s like to homeschool in the US, I have never heard of a state that specifically tells you how to homeschool your children. The number of hours or days? Yes, sometimes. What subjects need to be covered? Again, sometimes, but the question of how it gets done is left entirely up to the homeschooling parent.
One of the many freedoms of homeschooling.
– Everyday living is filled to the brim with educational experiences.
Once you get yourself out of that box of what learning is “supposed” to look like, the abundance of worthwhile educational experiences that happen with little or no prompting from you is staggering.
Activities that you might otherwise overlook as being important such as…
- imaginary play
- looking for bugs
- making mud pies
- going for walks
- playing games
- visiting with friends or family
…become a large part of that home education atmosphere you once thought could only happen from you spoon feeding it to them.
Just because you haven’t assigned it doesn’t mean it’s not educational.
– Children learn best from self-directed learning.
I know that might be a hard pill for many people to swallow, but it’s true. Think about it. How much do you remember of what you were taught in school? If you’re like me and the vast majority of other people, not much. A common thread that runs through everyone I’ve ever talked to about this is that the things they are the most familiar with and the most “expert” in are things they have pursued on their own, because they needed or wanted to.
Not because someone told them to.
– There is a difference between teaching and facilitating.
I live in PA, one of the states notoriously known for having strict homeschooling regulations. Yet even here, homeschooling parents are referred to as “facilitators.” Not teachers.
Let’s take a look at the definitions of “teach” and “facilitate,” shall we?
Teach– show or explain to someone how to do something
Facilitate- make easy or easier; make possible; make smooth/smoother
Do you see the difference? Teachers are there to show students how to do something, while a facilitator’s role is simply to make learning possible.
Teachers pour information into a child (a very one-sided event), while facilitators have the responsibility to provide whatever a child needs in order to find out what it is they need/want to know.
It is not the homeschooling parent’s job to lecture for hours and hours each day. It is the homeschooling parent’s job to answer questions and provide resources and support as the need arises.
– The hours spent homeschooling do not have to include only structured learning time.
I hope the prior examples I shared have given enough evidence of this, but I’m going to say it again.
You don’t have to teach in order for your kids to learn. Regardless of what your children are doing, if they are obtaining any new information or reinforcing anything they’ve already learned, it totally counts as school. Period.
Homeschooling can be such an amazing opportunity, not just for your children, but for you as well. Don’t needlessly burn yourself and your kids out by attempting to recreate a school environment at home.
School and homeschool are two completely different things. It’s time to start actually treating them that way.
If you’re looking for an encouraging homeschooling community, join my FB group!