Nobody Told Me That My Homeschooled Kids Would Learn So Much On Their Own

When I first began homeschooling, I focused heavily on the books we used. There wasn’t nearly as much good curriculum available as there is now, but I studied up on what there was, and once I made my purchases, I followed the directions in the teacher’s guides word for word….at first.

Like most homeschooling parents, I became more relaxed as I went along. But it took me a while to see that the key to learning success didn’t have much to do with what kind of books we used or how we “did school” each day. What really made the difference was that my kids had time to learn things on their own.

Take reading, for example. I started each child out with a reading curriculum, but no real progress was made until they found an appealing book that was too hard for them to read. Their desire gave them the incentive to work at reading the book. Lots of questions followed, and as I answered those questions, my children became more proficient and enthusiastic readers. The hours they spent reading after we came home from the library certainly helped the process.

Then there was art. The kids spent many rainy afternoons in the basement with big sheets of paper and tempera paints, or with modeling clay. The fact that they’re all creative now has its roots in those long hours devoted to experimenting with art supplies. Our eldest craves time off work so she can put in hours creating mosaics with glass. Her sister (currently in culinary training) loves experimenting in the kitchen. Our youngest enjoys making elaborate drawings at the desk in his room. And even our oldest son, who works a demanding job with lots of travel, enjoys finding ways to be creative in his work.

I believe the root of their creativity lies in the ample free time they had in their youth. Nobody told me how good that would be for them. But I’m telling you now: don’t get too worked up over teacher’s guides. Make sure to give your kids plenty of time to learn on their own.

8 thoughts on “Nobody Told Me That My Homeschooled Kids Would Learn So Much On Their Own

  1. Thank you Barbara, for once again lifting my doubts about my homeschool-graduated children. I see the same results you mention. Your family has “done” homeschooling in much the same way as ours has, from teacher’s guides to relaxed and real-life learning, and I am so renewed AGAIN after reading your blog post. You are telling our story much of the time, and it is a gift from God to have found you and your thoughts that you share. Thank you from my heart.

  2. Thanks for sharing your insights and wisdom! We’ve mentioned your post on our blog so our readers can enjoy your post too.

    -Christina S. Team Member

  3. It’s nice to hear confirmation from someone who has been there. I know I certainly learn more when I am self motivated and interested, and I see the same traits with my kids. It’s amazing how natural learning can be when a person actually wants it for themselves. Wanting something doesn’t always make it easy, but it is a great motivator, and self motivation is a wonderful quality that I want for my kids, and myself.

  4. Pingback: Lesson Pathways Blog » Reminder: This Week’s Blog Carnival of Homeschooling

  5. Thanks, Judie! It’s always so good to hear from you.

    You’re welcome, Conni, and thank you.

    Thanks for sharing that, Christina 🙂

    Pamela, I think you hit the nail on the head. Self-motivation is something we rarely experienced as kids in school, but our kids have many more opportunities to benefit from it.

  6. Thank you for the encouragement. I agree with you about our children’s learning so much on their own. A few years ago, when I went through a miscarriage and did not feel much like doing formal “teaching” for a few very sad days, we had some special times with a read-aloud book that we might not have had time to read otherwise (that old classic Five Little Peppers and How They Grew). And the children played more on their own, ending up constructing a life-like cannon with a mailing tube on a toy cart with wheels. I took a picture, and anyone looking at it would have thought I had been teaching a unit study and helping them make that for a history assignment (unrelated to the above book, of course)! No effort on my part. You can see why I like your newsletter title, The Imperfect Homeschooler!

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