Homeschooling Independent Learners

I am asked ALL the time, “How do you homeschool 6 kids?” Sometimes they want a “real” answer and other times they don’t. If I sense they want a quick, quirky response I may say something like, “I’m not sure… I’ll let you know in 17 years.” And honestly, that’s not too far off.

Number One… the Lord. He gives me strength and wisdom (I pray) to do what needs to be accomplished.

After the Lord, the #1 thing is:

TEACH THEM TO BE INDEPENDENT LEARNERS

I have said it before and it’s still very true. I’m not patient. I pray the Lord teaches me to be more patient… but by nature, patience is not my strong suit. I’m especially impatient with my children. I want them to get it NOW or yesterday would be better, even. I decided early on to teach Boy1 to be independent. I felt it was the only way to survive :)…. What do I mean? At that time he was in 4th grade (he had been in public school up to that point). I would sit down and write out assignments for the week and he had to get the assignment book, and do the work with out my help. He had to read the instructions, walk through the examples, and be responsible for his own studies. Well, what if he has a problem… what if  he can’t understand? My rule was this: you MUST TRY- I mean really apply yourself… if you can’t after that… I’ll help you. When I would get to that point, I would basically walk through, read aloud the book and it’s instructions. If that didn’t work, I’d take the next step. My reason for taking this approach was to teach independence. I was a good student, but I “needed” someone to show me how it worked. I needed to SEE the math problem worked out. I didn’t want them to have to be dependent on anyone showing them how to do it. I want them to be able to pick up a book and figure it out on their own. After all, this is what happens in college. You’re Algebra teacher doesn’t follow you home and serve as your personal tutor. You have to manage your time and assignments on your own. At this point all 4 (ages 7-13) have figured out the patterns I assign in their books so I don’t even make weekly assignments. I just make sure we’re on track occasionally. I believe this responsibility will aid them throughout their adult lives. Sometimes this back fires on them. Our oldest (13) is in an Intensive Writing class here on campus with other homeschool kids. One Tuesday night his work was not caught up for Wednesday class. He was up until 2:00 in the morning working on the assignment… and I let him. I gave him a hug and a kiss… told him to get a snack if he wanted one… I didn’t bail him out or gush over how overworked he was. He procrastinated, therefore he chose his own path. This pushes us to the next point.

Before you get anxious 🙂 I know there are extenuating circumstances. There are children who need special attention and such. I’m not suggesting that this method is for all children. As of now, all of my 4 school age children are at least on grade level…. so that is my perspective.

WE ARE RAISING ADULTS NOT CHILDREN

The goal is to raise Godly, responsible men and women. While I believe whole-heatedly that we need to let children be children… I also believe that we need to keep the end goal in mind. We have to let our children take the “fall” for their own actions. It is hard to see them make poor decisions and suffer the consequences but it is my duty to do so. There are times when we should let mercy rescue them, but we need to allow them to see that there are consequences (good and bad) to their actions. Just recently, I had to practice this principal. Our  youngest son (age 7) had some money burning a hole in his pocket. I was going to the store and he wanted to join me. He quickly found a toy he wanted to buy: a spy phone toy. It was $7. I could tell that it would not be a great use of his money and tried to persuade him explaining that he could save his money, add to it and get something better… but he insisted. So I let him buy it. Well it wasn’t even a day until he decided that it wasn’t a great use of his money. The little girls just love it. Of course they don’t use it correctly, but hey, it’s a phone… I was/am so tempted to buy it back from him and just let the little girls play with it… but I know it is a good lesson for him to learn.

THE LESSONS WE LEARN THE “HARD WAY” SEEM TO STICK

If we allowed our children to run a muck, we would be in total chaos all the time. Don’t be afraid to discipline. I have an older post on discipline that you can check out. But in short, I believe that when done appropriately, discipline (yes, even spanking) is one of the most effective tools the Lord has given parents. There are many who abuse. This is wrong, no question. But it is also wrong to allow our children to grow up as unruly, undisciplined, disrespectful children. It does no one a favor… especially the child. May my discipline come not out of a heart of anger, but from one seeking the best interest of my children…. loving correction.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Proverbs 29:17

(may I suggest that he/she will be a delight to his/her spouse’s soul… his/her children’s soul… the lady’s soul next door… his/her school teacher’s soul… )

For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. 1 Samuel 3:13

[An overseer] must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 1 Timothy 3:4,5\

Be encouraged! Take each day as it comes…. trusting in the Lord for wisdom and courage. You CAN do it!

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Homeschooling Independent Learners

  1. I was just reading about this today! Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done and we are trying to let our daughter make those mistakes and learn. I read about the end goal in mind..having and keeping the goals we want for her as a 25-30 year old. What kind of adult do we want her to be? Then start letting her have her own space and learn from her own decisions. It starts right away. It can almost tear your heart out as you wait and pray for them to make the right choice or when you know it is going to hurt! It is so rewarding when they get it all on their own! But keeping that end goal in mind does help the here and now times! Thanks for sharing! Love it!

  2. I’m working on getting my 8 yo on the independent learning train. Some days it works better than others, but she gets better everyday. I know it will be such a blessing for us once all of our children can learn on their own, the world will open up to them!

  3. Enjoyed reading this. I already have a “reap what you sow” household of four children under four years of age. It will be interesting to see how they mature & what they are capable of in the years to come. My oldest son next to youngest girl are very independent, but my next to oldest is very clingy when it comes to learning. She would rather pretend she doesn’t know something & be “taught,” than to learn something new on her own. She’s only 3, so I pray this will lessen as she grows up, but I think it may just be her “people person” personality. Do you see any of that in your children?

    • Hey Mandy! Forgive the delay to your question!

      Our oldest, #4 and maybe the 2 youngest girls (time will tell) tend to be like this. Just rest for the time. It may be that she will need more… encouragement ;)…. if so, you’ll figure it out! It just takes more effort from mom (sometimes lots more)…. be encouraged!!

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