Saturday, 5 April 2014

Home Education is Just Life

This past week, we took a holiday in the Lake District, a week before schools let out for Easter holidays. We often do this to avoid the traffic, the crowds, and the holiday surcharges -- chalk up yet another advantage for homeschooling.

Homeschoolers in the Hills

On this trip, though, I became much more aware of how homeschooling is a whole package, that even on holiday, we are still teaching, learning, exploring, and best of all, growing as people.

Let's take Lesson Number One: how you have to persevere, even when it's hard.

Ascents can be exhausting!

This is a great lesson to learn as you climb up mountains. Yes, it's hard, and yes, it's tiring, and yes, it sometimes hurts -- but you can never quit, because there's no other way to get home! Encourage each other; make up games like how many steps you can keep going in a row, or who can suck a sweetie the longest; keep your eyes on the goal ahead (ten more minutes, or keep going till that crag up there, or the summit's just around the corner); above all, put one foot in front of the other till you succeed at your goal.

Life can be like this.  Whether it's swimming training or races, which is our sport of choice, or reading a long novel, or later on, when one is in business, at university, or trying to keep a marriage going -- JUST KEEP GOING!!! It may be hard at times, but you can do it if you don't quit.

Lesson One: Never give up!

What about Lesson Number Two: climbing mountains is a team game. We have particular difficulties with Rocky and Timmy, trying to push past each other to the summit and knocking each other to the ground. Tears, cuts, dangerous behaviour, not to mention embarrassing arguments on the hills which reverberate throughout the quiet valleys.

Winning is not always the goal.
Having recently discovered cooperative board games like Pandemic, this concept was readily accepted once we discussed it at length: there are no individual winners or losers when climbing mountains, but we ALL win when we get to the top.  Conversely, if anyone loses (ie, injured), we ALL lose, we ALL fail to reach our goal, we ALL have problems in trying to get back to the safety of the car/cottage/cafe.

Work Together to Achieve the Goal!
We even had a Lesson Number Three that was specifically about school -- what do you do if you read books but don't understand them? Rocky is particularly keen to keep up with Killer and Phoenix in their book choices, tackling titles like "Dracula" and "Divergent" on her Kindle, but not understanding what's happening in them.

This lesson was for me: "Clearly," I said to her as we trudged up the 2600-foot summit of Grisedale Pike, "I need to spend more time reading aloud to you so you can better understand these hard books."

Rocky marches to her own drum.
She's such an independent soul that she often gets cut loose on projects herself, but I need to remember that she's only 9 and still needs the same level of nurturing that my more needy kids need.

In homeschooling, no child need be left behind.
Education, like life in general, should be a team game, and sometimes, the coach needs to do a bit of coaching to ensure that we're reaching our goals.  For me, the goal is to make education an atmosphere, a discipline, a life -- these are the words of Charlotte Mason, a Victorian educator and originator of a popular homeschooling method, and the words that we live by, whether in the school room, in the living room, or in God's great outdoor room!

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