A couple of years back is when it all began… that little mama intuition nudge in my heart. I felt drawn to homeschool. It was a compilation of events and conversations, but it boiled down to having the freedom, privilege, and curiosity to chase my children’s interests. With a background in development and education I’ve always known that humans focus better and retain more when they are interested in the subject matter. I wanted to take that a step further and promote positive experiences for my kids to learn life skills and good habits while building on their basic education. I wanted them to put into practice what they were learning about through relatable and hands on exposure that they chose! I set out to adapt this education atmosphere in our home environment.
We began homeschooling and mostly began with reading lots of books together. I read, they read, we read quietly, and we read aloud. Sometimes, we listened to someone else read to us (thanks audible)! I simply started by presenting a lot of rich literature and beautiful picture books that were of their interests, mostly relatable to them somehow. I organized the books I had by season with themes and topics and I’d just pull from that season’s collection and add to it by borrowing from the library or purchasing new books that complimented the theme. I found many of these classics from resources like Ambleside, Beautiful Feet Books, and Jodi Mockabee’s schoolhouse curiosities list. This was essentially how I followed and supported their interests as well as taught most lessons. I presented these books in a kind of strewing fashion and allowed them to dictate the direction we dove into.
If you think about it, we typically learn by reading or experiencing things we want to discover more about. I always keep this in the back of my mind. Everything we want to get better at or understand more, we can do by reading or practicing it.
As we read good books, I began to note that my children we’re really inspired by books about other children. They especially loved hearing biographies about young history makers and children who had strong character from a young age. I loved this because it was in line with my endeavors of teaching them important life skills. I loved that they were impressed with kids who had responsibly in their life. I also couldn’t help but recognize how much my kids could comprehend about life from reading stories about other people’s lives.
It really makes perfect sense though, I mean look at what we consume and value as adults… keeping up with social media and reality tv, youtubing information taught by our peers, and listening to podcasts about things we seek to know. SURPRISE!! Humans like to learn alongside other humans and their stories.
Along with all this information I was discovering about learning and my kiddos, I kept a journal documenting what their distinct interests were. I called it, “noting learning threads”. I observed and kept track of what they were honed in on, what caught their attention, and what they inquired and talked about often. After logging this in my journal once a week it didn’t take long to see some patterns. Sometimes it’s funny to see that as parents we can overlook our kids true interests because of our own biases and interests. I learned what my children were in tune to and therefore, what I could do to support them in those areas. We began taking hobbies more serious… horse training became of high importance for Dakota, building/designing for Jake, and lots of adventures and physical challenges for Finn.
Since life skills were also of great importance to us and the kids were eager to achieve big expectations thanks to some great books we read, we also worked towards preparing them for real life by training them in good habits and smart life skills. We wanted them to have some established routines that grounded them and kept them healthy spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially as they developed. Together as a family, we started having conversations and brainstorming open minded ways to foster this in them. Per usual, things took time to take shape… Little did I realize then, but we we’re all in all finding out what our families focus was. What made us special and how we were different, which is what the experts say is essential to success! It’s how you hone in, and do deeper, more meaningful work. There’s always an opportunity cost that you make when you start to niche towards what matters most, but the rewards become so much more valuable because they are unique to you!! There’s a feeling of tapping into your calling and fulfilling a purpose.
As we embarked on this new life style and following these pursuits I was asked to contribute to a popular homeschooling community called WILD + FREE. One day we were shooting some photography for an article I was writing on farmer’s market field trips when I had a very clear vision about a homeschool project I thought might weave together our goals and efforts for the kids. I noticed that there were not many flowers for sale and that this seemed to be an area we could impact. We had land to grow a garden in, time to develop a business idea, and lots of opportunity to explore and LEARN. Through this trip to town, an idea was born and some plans were made. We began to practice what I preached… hands on learning! We decided to start a family flower farm and got busy… Our own small business and the perfect learning experience for our kids! It gave them ownership and accountability. We allowed them the opportunity to contribute to the plan and test their interests and skills. Dakota helped in the process of developing the business plan and pieced together how this business would stand out. We put meaning towards her work as we allowed her to earn money and save for her horse aspirations. Kody and the boys took part in designing, planting and tending the farm and the boys also came up with ways they could contribute to the business more. They decided to do a booth at the fair and put together their own sales to compliment the flower stand. They made and marketed Finn’s Fresh Lemonade and Big Jake’s Bake Shop which earned them rave reviews in the community, a bit or extra income, and big smiles of accomplishment.
We are ending this homeschool year with lots of learnings… things that are easy to see in the big picture but more difficult to acknowledge along the way, which is what I’ve discovered overall about homeschooling. I’ve heard it said that its a lifestyle and I have to agree with that. It’s a family vision in perspective and it should and will look different for each and every family. It should take you to places only your family is meant to go. It should grow you in ways that you were meant to grow. It will always be a part of us and something that will forever be close to our heart. We plan to continue chasing the spark and loving to learn! We hope you will be encouraged to follow your interests as well and never loose touch with what’s calling you.
-BIG NEWS FRIENDS-
If you are inclined to know more about following your child’s lead I’m developing a field guide that will help you discover their passions and find ways to promote their development! – Subscribe to the blog to be notified when this is released.
(Expected Fall 2018)