In a life before kids, I was a 5th grade teacher. I loved my job. I loved creating integrated lessons that inspired my students. However, when I began homeschooling my children, I wanted something different for them. I wanted to base their learning on interests they themselves had, something I had unsuccessfully tried in the classroom.
While my 22 and 24 year old children would admit to some “holes” in their education, I am truly proud of the job I did as their educational guide. Their education was based on personal interests they each wanted to learn about. Yet, learning at our house was a family event. When my daughter was head over hills into Laura Ingalls Wilder and all things pioneer, the two kids attended summer camp at the Naper Settlement and as a family, we visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. My son was interested in WWII for many years which gave us ample time to visit local museums, read, and more. I learned more about this era than I ever learned in school.
As is always the case as a parent, I did have days that I second guessed myself. Was I providing the best education for my children? Was I going to regret that we homeschooled later in life? On days such as these, the teacher in me came out. As I sat observing my kiddos, I organized how their self-made learning fit into specific academic subjects.
Below is how I summarized the learning that was involved in one of my children getting gerbils.
- Saved for the gerbils
- Figured out how much was still needed each week
- Estimated time needed to save money
A visit to the pet store helped with this activity on the cost of gerbils
- Measured out the amount of bedding laid in the home and figured out how long it would last.
- With a dog sitting job, how much money was needed to be put aside each week to replenish bedding and food.
Writing for an Audience
- Emailed real life people that breed gerbils and asked great questions. (When I was teaching, the goal of one of my principals was that we were providing situations where the kids were writing for people that would actually read what they wrote.)
Writing to Gain Knowledge
- Participating in gerbil forums to gain information about gerbils and eventually to share information with others.
- This child was more cautious about spelling and grammar and asked for help to ensure writing was well done.
Read everything about gerbils
- Everything that was read was summarized back to me, not because I asked it to be, but because it is so exciting, how could you resist!
- There is tons of interesting information out there about the different types of gerbils. You may wonder what a “self” gerbil is as I did. It means the belly is the same color as the rest of its body.
- Learned all kinds of valuable information on how to breed and things to be cautious of when breeding. We did not plan to breed but it is interesting information that led to other conversations.
- What is the best home for a gerbil? What is the habitat of a wild gerbil like?
Health. What causes obesity in gerbils? How much exercise do they need? How much protein?
- Emailed with a gal about healthier brands of gerbil food because she doesn’t want her gerbils to have any artificial colors or preservatives.
Safety. What toys are harmful to a gerbil? What types of bedding do you need to avoid?
- Connected own eating habits to the gerbils and how each species has its unique food needs.
- Learned new ways to add pictures on different sites.
Set up her own forum for people to talk about their puppies.
Creating your own playgrounds for gerbils is quite elaborate. I was even excited about this!
Meeting new people with new ideas. Met new people on the gerbil forum with interesting and fun ideas that weren’t found in books.
Learned from friends. Talked to friend about gerbils.
My point? If you are homeschooling because it is what feels right to you or if you are homeschooling due to COVID19, RELAX! Be kind to yourself. Before judging your worth as a homeschooling parent, take a breath and observe. When your children instigates their learning, even with a video game, what type of learning is really happening? I’ve been amazed at what problem solving goes into playing a video game! Enjoy the process and the time home with your children. And, remember, children are curious beings. Society tends to claim they are lazy, but when given the choice, they want to learn more and more and more!