Part 1 looked at how to create an environment, habits, and expectations that lead to a happy homeschool. Part 2 will look at how to engage and turn the heart of your child toward homeschooling.
If you asked your children why they are being homeschooled, what would they say? Go ahead. Ask them.
Did they shrug and maybe throw out a couple tentative ideas? Unfortunately, that’s not enough. If you want your children to be truly happy homeschooling and passionate about learning, they need to own the vision for themselves and be able to give a solid defense of homeschooling.
So, start with yourself. Why are you homeschooling? Think about it. What are your reasons? Can you clearly articulate and defend them?
Avoid peer pressure?
Pass on your faith?
Time for hobbies?
Share the vision. If you and your spouse and children have never actually talked about this and kept up an ongoing conversation about it, now is the time. Let’s call this Homeschool Apologetics—a defense of homeschooling.
We will dig deeper into this in a future post, but for now, it’s important to understand that children (and adults) who don’t understand the purpose for something are not likely to jump on board with all of their heart. And this isn’t a one-time explanation kind of thing. Talk about it when you hear news about what’s happening in schools, what kind of “new” history is being taught, or how young adults are faring in the wider world.
If you want your children to catch your faith, talk about it, everyday. If you want them to develop good character, discuss morals and values every opportunity you have. If you want them to catch the vision of homeschooling and embrace it, guess what? You have to share the whys with them freely and openly every chance you get.
Find their interests. Learning to complete tasks that we don’t necessarily enjoy is extremely important to learn. And learning to do them cheerfully is part of maturing. But we all have certain activities, areas, or skills that we naturally enjoy. We are gifted in certain areas and are energized by doing what we love.
Find what makes your child tick! Take away entertainment and help them discover something they are truly interested in. If your child is accustomed to large amounts of screen time or being passively entertained, this may take some time and experimentation. Are they interested in learning how to cook? Let them spend time with you in the kitchen or set them up with some online tutorials and recipes. Do they want to learn more about astronomy? Save up for a telescope and help them find books and maybe local stargazing events to attend.
You get the idea. The core academic subjects are foundational jumping off points for everything else we can learn and do in life. They don’t take all day, so try to use the rest of the time to provide resources and learning opportunities for your children to explore their interests and build on the basic academic foundation you are giving them. When they can associate home with learning about things they really care about and doing projects they are passionate about, that is a win for a happy homeschool.
Build the relationship. Do your children like being around you? Do you like being around them? That’s a tough one, isn’t it? As homeschooling parents, we are with our kids 24/7 and it isn’t all a sweet fairytale, but the family is a special creation that deserves extra special attention.
You may think just being around your children all day is quite enough. Yet, it’s actually more about how you use the time you have with them. You may have a quantity of time spent with them, but do you have the quality? Do you laugh together? Play games? Work on projects together? Go on field trips together? Read and discuss books together?
Homeschooling is so much more than completing the school checklist. Don’t get me wrong, that’s super important (and can be enjoyable too), but it is a piece of the entire puzzle of doing life together. Think about working in a group with other people. Would you enjoy the work if everyone was there just to get it done and then go their separate ways? Or would you enjoy it more if the relationships were strong and everyone was invested in the project, supported each other, and willingly participated? That’s what a healthy homeschool family can be like—everyone happy while learning and engaging. It’s beautiful!
Find community. A community is often defined as a group of people who share common interests, goals, or values. Can you imagine living without a single like-minded person near you to share in your joys, ideas, and hardships? Your children need this too. We were created to live in community.
A like-minded homeschool community can help your children see the big purpose in all of this and find joy in being part of a community that educates in this way. Expose them to other families raising and educating children of all different ages. Teach your children to reach out to other kids and find ways to encourage and bless them. Remind them how blessed they are to be homeschooled, and then help them to be a positive influence on those around them. You will be amazed at the sense of purpose this will give them.
Engage and serve together. Involve your kids in serving homeschoolers. In this homeschooling journey that you are on, are your children spectators or are they participants? Are they just along for the ride, or are they taking responsibility for their learning and being exposed to the community-wide, state-wide, nation-wide, and international world of homeschooling?
Are you more passionate about a cause that you read about or about a cause that you actively work for? Actions speak louder than words. Finding a way to serve homeschoolers in your community, in our state, or beyond will help your children understand the vision and mission behind homeschooling. They will meet and develop relationships with other adults and children who are doing just what they are doing. They will see people giving up their valuable time to serve others. Do we give our time away to causes that we don’t think are very important? Not usually.
Seeing the value in something is the beginning of being able to enjoy it. If you want your children to be happy with their homeschooling, they need to see the value in it—the good it is doing in their life and the lives of others.
How can you and your children serve? Here are some ideas: Start, or serve in, a homeschool support group. Plan field trips or park days for local homeschoolers. Coordinate a used curriculum sale. Join the team of IAHE volunteers and serve homeschoolers all over Indiana. Teens can even volunteer through our internship program. Check it out HERE.
How do we engage our children in the value and joy of homeschooling? Share the vision of homeschooling with your children, work with them to discover their interests, build a strong relationship with them filled with laughter and learning together, find a local community of homeschool friends, and serve homeschoolers together. The joy found in learning comes to our children when they understand the vision and the purpose of this great opportunity. Don’t just get by with going through the motions; pass on the heart and beauty of homeschooling to your children.