This is part of a series called Home Schooling 101.
My goal with this series is to share my thoughts and ideas in response to the many questions I get about home schooling.
Please know that I do not consider myself some kind of home schooling expert.
After all, I have only been home schooling my kids for 9 years.
However, since I was home schooled myself, and then taught in a public high school, I do have a unique perspective to offer.
And the longer I home school, the more reading and research I find myself doing about it.
Because I am passionate about home schooling.
I’m interested in it.
I care about it.
I’m excited about it!
And I truly want success for other families on this journey.
With these posts I hope to share my passion and excitement for this amazing kind of education with you.
As I thought about how to start this series, I kept coming back to things people ask me often.
One of the most common questions I get is “what does your school day look like?”, and “how do you organize your school day?”
This seems like a great place to start when you are a new home schooler, or wanting to make some changes in the way you do things.
But I’d like to encourage you to look beyond simply setting up a schedule, creating a routine, or finding your rhythm.
Because I bet you already have a routine or rhythm happening in your home.
You and your kiddos wake up at roughly the same time every day.
You eat a similar breakfast, and lunch every day, and probably snacks too.
Your kids nap, or have quiet time, and like to play the same games and read the same books day after day..
You have created a daily routine in your home, and perhaps you weren’t even aware of it.
Now maybe you want to change the routine and rhythms yo’ve fallen into and create ones that serve your family better.
That is a beautiful goal.
I think most, if not all of us, could find new, better ways to manage our days.
However, I think it is wise to separate the routine of our home from the culture of our home.
Especially in terms of education and learning.
Your routines or rhythms are the order in which you do things,
But your culture is much bigger than that.
Your culture is your values and beliefs, your customs, and your ways of doing things.
Your culture determines why you do the things you do, and then, how you do them.
So when think of yourself as an educator, and your home as your classroom or school, you need to ask yourself, “what is the learning culture in our home?”
What educational concepts and beliefs do we value?
And then you can ask yourself “do our school habits and customs reflect those values?”
And finally, you can look at your school days and routines and ask, “how can we arrange our school days so that they reflect the learning culture we want in our home?”
Do you see how creating your rhythm and routine can flow naturally from the learning culture you create?
Let me give you an example.
In our home, we start almost every school day with Bible/devotional time, hymn singing, and poetry.
Those things are all of great value to me and I want the things they represent to be a continual part of our learning culture.
I started this routine with my children when we began school, and they were 5, 3 and 1.
This has become one of our school customs–it is a part of our classroom culture.
No one is embarrassed to sing hymns together as we sit around the dining room table.
Even when we sing off key and acapella.
No one is uncomfortable listening to poetry and talking about it.
Because that is what we have always done.
Because I established it as part of our learning culture, it quickly became something we all look forward to and enjoy as the start of our school days.
But if I had never started school that way before, and then suddenly did, it might feel strange and awkward at first.
If you are embarking on creating new customs or changing the learning culture in your home, that change is hard.
Change takes time.
And you need to give plenty of grace while things are new.
If you don’t feel ready to change the learning culture in your home because you haven’t thought about it before, take some time to do so.
A great place to start is to pray for wisdom.
Then talk to your spouse and see what he values.
You may be surprised to find there are things he thinks important that you don’t. (I was!)
You could read up on some of your favorite educational philosophies. (I’m currently reading “Consider This” by Karen Glass and it is rocking my world. I also love "For the Children's Sake" "Educating the Whole Hearted Child" "A Charlotte Mason Companion" and "Teaching From Rest"
I also like to meditate upon quotes like this one, and think how they can be best reflected in the learning culture of our home. “We wish to place before the child open doors to many avenues of instruction, and delight, in each of which he should find quickening thoughts.” Charlotte Mason
But if that sounds overwhelming, you can start by simply thinking about the things you value in your children’s education.
Here are just a few of the key educational/learning values I’ve used to shape our school culture:
equipping my kids to become life long learners
cultivating an appetite for discovery, adventure, and exploration
encouraging my children to work until something is done to its best, instead of to a grade
learning subjects like history, science and geography through narrative literature
taking learning outside the classroom and into the world as often as possible
to learn by experience and not just from books
studying and experiencing nature to grow our connection and love to and for the Creator
exposing my kids to much beauty (art, poetry, music, and nature) in order to cultivate a life long love for those things and a desire to make their world more beautiful
As I said, these are just a few of the things I value and have attempted to make a part of the learning culture in our home.
But they have all impacted how I teach my kids, the way I schedule our days (lots of field trips!) the curriculum we use, how we learn science, and even having things like an afternoon tea time and studying art history.
Creating your learning culture truly impacts the way you teach your children.
Of course, your list will look different than mine.
And some of it will change over time as you learn and grow and as your children do too.
The important thing is to mindfully think about the learning culture of your home and then to take steps to create the culture you long for.
I know I use this quote so often, but it truly is a guiding principle in my home education journey as well as a pillar of our learning culture.
Friends, we have an amazing opportunity to create a learning environment in which our kids will grow and learn and thrive. So before you figure out your daily schedule, figure out what kind of learners you want them to be, and what kind of learning you want them to be doing. Creating a learning culture that is unique to your family and children is such gift. Make the most of it!