Children will learn better and your homeschool will be more pleasant if your children are empowered to chart their own course. The homeschool parent is the guide and coach. Your homeschool will be more successful if you let your child have as much control as possible.
Homeschool Education as a Meal
Homeschooling offers you the opportunity to customize your child’s education to fit their needs and interests. Education should not simply be something that you are serving up for your child like a meal you’ve prepared.
Do you sometimes find that you lovingly prepare a meal and serve it to your children only to have them refuse to eat what you’ve prepared? I’ve had that experience many times.
I’ve learned, though, that when I ask my children ahead of time what they would like for dinner, they are more likely to eat it with enthusiasm. When they have a say in what will be on the menu, they are happier with the meal.
Homeschool planning is a lot like planning a meal. If you give children a say in what they learn and how they learn it, they will be much more enthusiastic about their education.
How Can My Child Plan Their Education?
I know what you’re thinking, “how can my child plan their education? If I let them plan dinner, we’d be eating candy bars and chips every night!”
I’m not saying to entirely let them set the menu, especially when they are very young, but give them choices. Consult with them and determine what they would prefer. Sometimes you might need to find ways to modify something to suit a picky eater.
Children Learn When Empowered to Make Decisions
When I discuss the dinner menu with my children, they are happier with the meal AND they learn something about meal planning and nutrition at the same time. I don’t just let them decide to have candy bars and chips for dinner. We discuss the important parts of a balanced meal and I guide them in choosing healthy options that satisfy us both.
In the same way, when I discuss the homeschool curriculum with my children, they learn many things. They learn to discuss goals and look forward to what you might need in the future. We talk about various ways to learn so they gain knowledge about how to learn. They also learn about their own learning preferences and start to think about their future.
Guide Young Children in Planning
For younger children or even older children without a clear view of their future path, homeschool education can be very much like a meal that you plan together.
You may plan out certain courses of study that you think are important. You may follow state standards or some other learning objectives. Then, talk with your child about the plan. Just like planning a meal together, you work together to make sure to include the important things.
You work together to co-create a balanced education. Like a balanced meal, it has all of the important groups. Your child has choices, though. They are empowered to determine how they will learn, what resources they will use, and, at least in some subjects, exactly what they will learn.
Ask Their Opinion
Let them have choices wherever you can. Rather than scouring the Facebook groups for other’s opinions on curriculum, ask the people whose opinions matter the most- your children.
Show your children samples of resources you are considering and see what they think. Nearly every homeschool resource offers samples pages or even a sample chapter online. Show these to your kids and see what they think.
For very young children, just ask them what they like to do. Most of the play of young children is a perfect opportunity for learning. Pretend play, Lego, and games can be wonderful educational opportunities.
Homeschool Education as a Buffet
Perhaps, instead of thinking of homeschool education as a meal you’re serving, you should think of it as a buffet you are offering. This is more appropriate for children in middle school or older.
At this educational buffet, your children can freely choose what they want to consume and how much of it they want. They can decide that they’d like a large serving of reading historical fiction with a side of a field trip to the history museum, for example.
As the parent, your role is to guide your children and coach them in making good decisions. You can set some parameters. For example, you may require that they get a helping from each of the core subjects.
Be their guide to help them to keep their focus on the long-term goals. If their goal is to go to college, they will need to prepare for that by completing a college-prep course of study in high school.
Let Children Set Their Own Goals
Even though you, the homeschool parent, are the guide, it is important that you let your children set their own course. If they choose the goals, they will be more invested in reaching the goals. This will make them more engaged and invested in the learning process.
If they are forced to pursue goals that are not their own or to learn in ways that they do not find engaging, they are not likely to retain the learning for long. Children learn best when they are engaged and interested and when they see the value in what they are learning.
Once your children have chosen their goals, you can guide them to the curriculum, classes, or other resources that may help them reach those goals. Work with them to create an educational plan that fits their goals and appeals to them.
Empower your children to take control of their education and their path in life.