Are You Homeschooling with Textbooks, By Default?

Why is it that the things that should be the most obvious to us are those which we find so difficult to grasp?

Take textbooks, for example.

I’m honestly astonished at the number of homeschoolers who seem to cling to this holdover from compulsory schooling- you know, that form of education most homeschoolers are trying to avoid?? And I’m not approaching this topic in an uppity manner, since I was once one of those very people.

Thankfully, I have gradually realized how little textbooks have to do with an effective education for most children, and I think a good number of other parents instinctively know this, too. Despite this fact, however, I’ve increasingly come into contact with many, many other homeschool moms who are genuinely aware that textbooks aren’t working for their children, yet they beat themselves up over it and desperately try to get them to work.  Continue reading “Are You Homeschooling with Textbooks, By Default?”

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Why Should We Homeschool?- Part 8- Learning from Life

learning from life
Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s pretty fortuitous that I’m sitting here writing about learning from life when that’s exactly what I’ve been doing here for the past hour. My laptop hasn’t been cooperating today, and my tech repairman (my son) isn’t home, so this computer-illiterate gal has been trying to figure things out herself. I may not have fixed it, but I’m here, and I’m writing this post, so I must have done something right. 🙂

And isn’t that just how things work for us? When we’re in a bind and don’t have anyone else to rely on, we do a little research, get a little dirty, and figure things out for ourselves. That’s the way it’s always been, hasn’t it? Looking back throughout history, this method has gotten us pretty far. So why do we insist upon changing something that comes naturally?

Since compulsory education was instituted about 150 years ago, textbooks have become the go-to method for learning. I can understand the need for them in schools with hundreds of students. They’re the cheapest and most efficient way to teach, but anyone with any experience with public education can tell you that they don’t really accomplish what they’re meant to.

We, as humans, have been created to explore the world by living in it. Homeschooling affords us seemingly endless amounts of time to do just that.

Children at home have the opportunity of seeing how the real world actually operates. They’re beside us in our day-to-day housekeeping tasks- helping with younger siblings and doing cooking, cleaning, and budgeting. They’re at the grocery store with us helping us find which can of pineapples has the least expensive unit price. They follow us to the car lot as we deal with a salesman who is asking a price that’s a little too steep.

Not only do they gain actual life experience in real living situations, but they have ample time to explore things that interest them, or that they find necessary. How many people are in the world today doing jobs that they hate because they didn’t have the freedom to pursue their own dreams as a child? Without the time to chase after their hopes and dreams, people tend to give up on them. It’s hard to stay focused on something you’re never able to actually put any time into.

And, yes, I do assign some value to book learning. I love books. I love to read. I love to learn. But…how important is it that I know that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92? Has it gotten me anywhere in life? Did it enable me to do something I otherwise would not have been able to? I’d wager the same goes for most things learned in school.

Have you ever needed to do a geometry proof while tiling your kitchen?

How many times has your boss quizzed you on the state capitals?

Were you ever turned down for a job because you didn’t learn how to read until you were 8?

Did your child fail to learn to talk because you never explained what a gerund is to her?

Of course not. So while academic knowledge can be a great thing, it’s not the most important thing to attain. The most important thing is to learn how to live.

And I’ll give you one guess to figure out how that can be accomplished.

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