Andrea asked if I could guest post on her blog; she frequently comes to me with questions about the direction we would like to go with our homeschooling curriculum and thought that a father’s perspective may be valuable for this community.
There has been some discussions about “doubt” the past few weeks; doubt in “are we doing enough”, “are we doing the right thing”, are the kids going to respond to the content we are delivering, etc. I think that signs of these doubts are very positive things. We always do a “mirror check”. We check with each other often to insure we’re on track, feeding our children in the right way while they (hopefully) blossom under our approach. Constant adjustments should be the norm since as parents we are evolving as much as our children.
The coolest thing to me about homeschooling is being able to provide content that feeds their current passions. Sophia had recently expressed interest in the US Presidents and how much she enjoyed learning about them; we went online and found US President books for girls for her age group and let her explore that topic. She has also expressed interest in old cars and I plan to take her to an old car museum that they have at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. Every time we do these types of things I think back to how much I would have loved to have been taught this way! The style of learning imposed on me in public school was so constraining that it almost inspired dread that I had to learn about something I did not care about. Now we are feeding joy about an existing interest which we believe will inspire a love of learning instead of the indifference I experienced.
Another aspect I love with the freedom of homeschooling is taking our son Logan with me on business trips. I travel via car all around the Carolinas and I believe the learning opportunities that exist on these adventures are limitless. Not only do we get to spend quality “windshield time” with one another but he also gets to see what daddy does day in and day out. He gets to meet the people I talk about at home all of the time (one of my business associates calls him “Hulk Logan”) which helps with relevance for work stories I tell at home. In addition, he is learning business etiquette which sinks in more than I realize. Little things like how you greet people in a business setting, how you interact/engage with others and (most importantly) how to constantly ask questions to stimulate conversation and gather information. His natural inclination when he meets people is to talk about himself (perfectly normal) but these trips help reinforce a life-long lesson I try to make sure hits home: “Be interested, not interesting”. People want to be engaged, they want to share their feelings with you and feel like they are being heard. Too many people try to earn credibility by telling how much they know or tell interesting stories about what they have done. I tend to have a more favorable impression of people when they show genuine interest in what I am all about. Hopefully Logan is learning that valuable lesson.
The thing that has stood out to me the most is how challenging it is to home school a child. I think we were pretty close to terrible when we started but have just kept banging away each year and have made a marked improvement. The key has been to read and educate ourselves in different techniques or find out how others have made it fun and interesting. We consistently discuss with one another the direction we want to take, which continues to evolve. Most of all we have fun! Homeschooling is like having a child; they are both the most challenging yet rewarding thing you will ever experience. I love the art lessons, time outside, the exploration of nature, the museums and the music that is explored through Waldorf education and, unlike having a child; I don’t have to change poopy diapers!