One of my favourite blogs is Simple Homeschool. What I love about the content on this site, is that it reminds me what this journey is all about when I get so bogged down in the minutiae – the overwhelming little details that can so easily make me feel inadequate. A failure. Simple Homeschool often reminds me that, at the end of the day, my goal is to raise resilient, capable young ladies who can think for themselves, look after themselves, and learn whatever it is they need to have the best possible version of their lives.
Everything else is just fluff.
This is why we’ll typically spend a lot less time studying the unique variations on the coastline of Micronesia, or the specific eruption patterns of the average volcano, and a lot more time studying the nature of man: what makes us who we are, why we act the way we do, how to understand and accept others with compassion, and how to improve ourselves where we can.
Having said that, I do love learning. I am fascinated by every aspect of life, and I want to impart that fascination to my girls. I wish they could be as inspired to pore over the atlas as I was as a kid. I wish they’d devour pages and pages of the dictionary in a sitting, and go to bed with an encyclopaedia under their pillows for a bedtime story. That’s what I did. Surely they should be just like me? Isn’t that the point?!
Of course not.
And the simple (yet astounding) truth of our journey is that, in so many cases, they really couldn’t give a jot or tittle about education of any kind (unless you count hours of stable work on Star Stables, or conquering kingdoms in Age of Empires ‘educational’. (And to be clear: I now do :))). They are reluctant learners. Or, they were.
When I read Simple Homeschool’s article on teaching a reluctant learner, I suddenly realised just how far we’d come.
When we started home education, I was convinced that my genius children simply needed the right motivation, and they’d soon have a truly encyclopaedic knowledge of every fact known to man and recorded in the last 5000 years.
*Cue the gales of laughter around the globe*
With the years, and with the tears and fights and frustrations, I have learnt to distil what really matters in home education – and life – and to pursue that vigorously and wholeheartedly. We spend far more time on Bible studies, personality profiles and in-depth philosophy debates than most 8-11 years olds probably do. And we’re all having a lot more fun. We’ve evolved a very simple and potently effective approach to Maths, Literature and History (most of which involves Khan Academy and Crash Course). And the rest of our learning takes place in really life, as we discuss what we believe matters, and then attempt to live it in our flawed, human way.
We have stopped focusing on academics and started focusing on living, instead. The surprising, beautiful result is that my once reluctant learners now love to learn. They each rush to be first to do Maths, they’re writing mini-essays with ease and pleasure, and when I read 15th Century history to them, they beg for more. My head is finally proving what my heart has always known: with the right focus, and the correct priorities, the details take care of themselves.
What about you? How have you motivated your reluctant learners? I’d love to hear your thoughts.