Educating the Kids

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*We are residents of Texas, which means our homeschool laws are fairly easy to follow. Yours might be different and I suggest you research your individual state laws prior to homeschooling your own children.

Home based education. It can be scary being the only person accountable for your child’s education. It can be confusing. Every state has different laws governing what procedures you need to follow. It can also be overwhelming. There are so many philosophies! Charlotte Mason, unschooling, workbook based, living book based…it just goes on and on. And then on top of that we try to build our own boxes.

Homeschool. Roadschool. Wildschool. Forest School. Child Led Learning. Multi-age Learning. Life Experience.

We don’t fit very well into one category. So you’ll find them all here. Embrace them even.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don’t run away yet.

You don’t have to fall into those traps.

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

And you definitely don’t have to box yourself in.

We spent years doing exactly that and we have finally broken free. We’ve found something so much more natural. Are you ready?

Stop worrying about the labels. Let’s just call it education and leave it at that.

Education doesn’t have to be intimidating. It shouldn’t be something that you just have to get through. It should be fun. It should be passionate. It should be well timed. It should be motivating. It should be a group effort. It should be tailored. And it should last a lifetime.

That’s my personal philosophy.

How we teach our kids.

Because as much as possible, it’s a family affair.

Lessons are taught in laps, in trees, in the truck, at national parks, and everywhere in between.

I don’t believe History and Science have age limits. We teach them as a family and often learn as much as the children. These subjects are great for field trips and the bulk of them are taught in place…along the trail, on the battlefield, in the forest, at the beach, and in the kitchen. Nature study is encouraged as well as the art, music, and geography that we weave throughout our lessons.

Math and Language Arts are a little more age specific. You’ll notice I said age, not grade. Outside of public school, where children have to be grouped together for ease of teaching and control, grade levels don’t mean much until high school. Children can go as fast or as slow as they need to until about fourteen or fifteen when we start requiring a higher level of responsibility. These classes are taught individually, at the child’s pace, with select curriculum.

This provides plenty of space for what I call Life Lessons and Passionate Pursuits. The term Electives always put me off as if you can just elect to go through life without what I consider basic mandatory knowledge.

All of the children are taught the basics of mechanical repair, electrical repair, plumbing, and carpentry. These items are taught as the need for them occur. The children are also required to learn to cook, although I’m not sure they even realize that since it is taught at my side, with lots of sampling and joy. Finances are another life skill that they learn from an early age as they watch and then help me to budget paychecks and pay bills. Household responsibilities have expanded as our lifestyle has changed. Setting up and tearing down camp is now mandatory as well as navigation and time management. These are all Life Lessons and the goal is to have them able to balance the running of a household and the holding down of a job (their education at this point) by the time they are sixteen so that they have a few years to do it in the safety of our home before they confidently leave to start their own.

Passion Pursuits are every bit as important. You have to have dreams. And children need room to explore their dreams. They have the rest of their lives to end up in a cubicle. Unless of course cubicles are their happy place and then encourage it early.

My kids aren’t cubicle kids.

My kids are more of the wild and free variety. Currently I have one transitioning from paleontology to photography. He wants to travel full-time and document all the wonderful, wild parts of our world. Another is pursuing illustration. She’s a bit shy with it still and unsure of where she’ll find her niche but she knows to the absolute core of her soul that she has to live a life of creativity. A third has her entire future planned out to the tiniest detail. She is going to write spooky tales from her apartment balcony in New Orleans whilst sipping coffee and nibbling on beignets. My littlest one is going to train Huskies in Alaska.

A standard, one size fits all education clearly wouldn’t cut it to prepare my children for the future they see. That’s where the tailoring comes in. Zeroing in on dinosaurs or camera function. The most important thing I can do as a parent is give my children the best chance possible. The ability to learn, the passion to learn, and a safe space to explore their possibilities is the best I have.

It means we often don’t follow a regular schedule. We’re just as likely to be out hiking as we are to be completing a math lesson, and 2am political debates are a regular occurence. There are science treasures scattered across every surface. Books weigh down every shelf. Silences are filled with Mom-can-you-teach-me’s. And nothing is off limits.

If you can dream it, if you can ask it… I’ll help you learn it. Isn’t that what education should be?