Your Family's Incredible Lifestyle Begins HERE – With Homeschooling
Thursday December 7th 2017

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Anyone Can Live the Learning Lifestyle (Or How to Walk Like a Homeschooler)

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Ready for a big secret? Chances are great that you’re looking at this blog to find out just what you need to do to or for your child to improve her school performance. In reality, much of what is necessary for your child’s betterment depends more on changes for you, the parent, and how you create the lifestyle to support improved academic performance. Surprised? Many homeschooling parents are, too.

While a newcomer to the game of golf, I noticed in my environment all things golf. One comment about the game that I found particularly striking is that it isn’t played on the vast acreage of the golf course as much as in the five and one-quarter inches between my ears. It’s also in the head where a learning lifestyle begins, followed quickly by the heart. (At this point I can’t help but hear the Field of Dreams’ voice whispering, “Build it and they will come.”) Build a learning lifestyle, and your family will live it. The following three actions follow the habit of trust to support your dream of helping your child excel.

1. Observe.

A gardener watches for clues about each plant’s preferences – this one likes more sun; that one, a little more humidity. She observes each plant’s nature – one seems to be putting more energy into roots while another develops a thick stem. She pays attention to what she does that helps that action, as well as to what fails so she doesn’t make the same mistake again.

In a nutshell, this habit of observation is how many homeschooling parents learn how to help their children make the most of their learning time. Begin observing your child at work and play. Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Give your child directions to accomplish a few new tasks. Which works better – telling her or showing her how?
  • When your child independently starts to do a project, does he seem drawn to first read about it, hear about it, just starting doing it and figuring it out as he goes along, or a combination of these methods?
  • Watch your child settle down to homework. Does he choose a quiet area, or does he turn on a radio or gravitate to where activiy is ongoing?
  • When it’s available, does your child seek out quiet time along, or does she prefer to be around others?
  • What does your child do with spare time? Build? Create? Read? Talk? Run? Think?
  • What are his strengths? Weaknesses? How much does his best effort accomplish?

You’ll think of other situations to observe, and you may discover information you weren’t even looking for. Ultimately, putting knowledge of your child’s traits and preferences to work will contribute more to academic success than just about anything else you can do for him.

2. Guide.

Supported by your trust in yourself and your child and your growing storehouse of knowledge about your child’s preferred means of learning, you will find this next homeschooling secret easy to understand. You don’t need to be a trained, certified teacher to help your child learn! All you need to do is to begin thinking of yourself as a “learning guide.”

The history of New York’s Adirondack Mountains is replete with stories of men who made their living as guides for city folks looking for outdoor adventure. Visitors knew they could not survive in the vast mountain wilderness alone, so they hired the guides to make sure they didn’t get lost, attacked by bears, or freeze or starve to death. The visitors were in charge and did all the work. The guides merely provided the direction necessary to keep everyone out of harm’s way. If his charges were canoeing toward a waterfall, the guide warned of the danger and suggested a safer course. If it grew cold, guide and guests sat by the campfire discussing the best places to pitch their tents and how to dress warmly.

No one looked at the guide’s job as that of a teacher in the way public schools have trained us to think of teachers, as those who impart everything they know. Rather, he was hired to protect, advise, and, for the sake of his livelihood, ensure the experience was as rewarding and enjoyable as possible in the hope the tourists would one day come back for more.

In a similar light, many homeschoolers see themselves as learning guides. The children, as the learners, do the work. Mom and Dad provide

Let your child hear you speaking positively of his accomplishments to others.

necessary resources, be they books, classes, or other people, then observer, consult, answer questions or explain when needed, and generally keep the child on a safe and productive course. They do their best to ensure that the experience is as rewarding and enjoyable as possible in the hope the child will eagerly come back for more.

3. Encourage.

Most homeschooling parents I know are their children’s most vocal cheerleaders. IN a world where children often find themselves and their scholastic efforts unappreciated (wouldn’t you feel your efforts unappreciated if the boss kept sending back your reports covered with red marks noting all your mistakes?), a successful homeschooled child’s learning experience includes a large dose of encouragement.

You may encourage your child’s learning experience in many ways beyond patting her on the back for a job well done (or, equally important, for a  job well attempted to the best of her ability). Let your child hear you speaking positively of her accomplishments to others. Discuss your own learning challenges and successes at the dinner table so she gets the subtle message that learning is important to you and will be important to her throughout her life. Offer to proofread writing. Double-check math calculations. Talk about what you once learned from a good movie on her subject of study. Share a funny story from your own experience with the topic. Discuss her hopes for the future and talk about what she needs to know to create the future she desires. Find as many opportunities as possible for one-on-one conversations where you share positive expressions – most children want to live up to the expectations of those they love.

From What the Rest of Us Can Learn from Homeschooling, Linda Dobson, 2003

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