When you hear the word education, what comes to mind? Is it school? Do you think a degree equals education? While schooling and earning qualifications are a part of education, they are not everything. Education is a process and experience, not just a checklist to complete.
Education really begins long before any schooling does. It is experienced first in the home through family interactions, listening to stories, and experiencing the world around you.
You may wonder when education ends, in truth, it never should. Continual education is the hallmark of a prosperous mind and life. Everyone knows that continuing education is an important part of most careers today. However, it is also an important habit for life.
Thanks to Jennifer Elia of Aurelius Cabrini Homeschool Resource Center for this guest post.
Continuing education does not need to be obligatory courses or seminars, it is simply the practice of lifelong learning. Teaching children to be self-educators is as simple as allowing them the freedom to self-direct their study. This is particularly ideal for homeschooling. It can be the difference between just getting the curriculum finished and falling in love with learning.
How Can I Nurture Learning Within Our Family?
The best way to make your family a learning family is by learning together. Parents who model learning, will have children eager to learn. Here are some ways to practice family learning:
- Research an answer to a question or problem. Don’t ask Alexa! Look in books, search the Web and read the websites you find together.
- Read together, every day! Reading is the cornerstone of deep learning. Reading aloud together will have you enjoying learning something new and build a positive family culture.
- Learn and teach practical skills. It is easier and quicker to do it yourself, however, teaching children how to cook, clean, create, and fix household items gives them life skills and creates family bonds.
- Encourage self-directed learning! Lifelong learners are curious, motivated learners. Learning is not a process of being spoon-fed, but an active, personal manifestation. Learning how to learn is the greatest gift you can give a child.
How Do I Promote Self-Directed Learning in My Home?
There are many ways this can be accomplished. The easiest is to schedule time where your children explore their interests in depth. Doing so can include reading, watching how-to videos, taking field trips, experimenting, doing hands on activities, or listening to podcasts. This is an active learning period, but it is also passive because there are no checklists or assignments required to be completed.
Don’t have time every day? Not a problem. Find time once a week or even once a month if need be — the down time will refresh their enthusiasm and fuel their imagination.
What If My Child Doesn’t Have an Interest to Pursue?
So you have provided the time, space, and support for your child to plunge ahead on this self-education adventure, but he just doesn’t know what to study.
What to do now? Is all hope lost?
Never, there is always time to learn something new. Here are a few times to encourage your child to want to self-educate:
- Read a wide array of literature and nonfiction books as read alouds and see which spark an interest. It may take awhile but something is bound to pique her curiosity and leave her with questions she wants answered.
- Take varied field trips (including virtual ones) to learn more about history, science, and geography. Allow the experience to intrigue your child to learn more.
- Have a reading week where you have no lesson plans other than reading as a family and individually. Do not set any timers or make any required reading lists. Reading is the first and more important component to self-education.
- Let your child get bored! Necessity may be the mother of invention but boredom is the father of ingenuity. Once true boredom sets in she will need to find a way to counteract it. This is where interest, ideas, and experimentation take off.
What If We Are Not Homeschoolers?
Self-directed learning is by far easier in a homeschool but it is not exclusive to the homeschool life. Anyone can and should promote this practice. Follow the suggestions above and find time, perhaps on a weekend afternoon or over a school break to give your children, and yourself, room to explore and learn. Discovering how to fit such activities into a busy schedule is a skill that will serve everyone well for a lifetime because learning should never end no matter how full our plates become.
Freedom to dive into a body of knowledge or conquer a manual skill builds self-confidence and self-reliance. Let your child steer the ship for a little while and see what shores you discover!
How could you promote self-directed learning in your home? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Curious about homeschooling? Considering homeschooling your children but don’t know where to start? Get my FREE guide to making the decision to homeschool and get your questions and concerns answered!
Jennifer Elia, homeschool mentor, curriculum creator, blogger, and author, is Founder of Aurelius Cabrini Homeschool Resource Center which is dedicated to giving homeschool moms the tools they need to thrive in their home education career. Jennifer provides one-on-one mentoring, personalized and original curriculum plans, and practical advice for those just beginning their homeschool journey, as well as those who just need a little boost. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children whom she has been educating at home for the past 10 years. When Jennifer isn’t busy researching the best curriculum solutions, she enjoys gardening, crafting, and writing. You can find Jennifer on Facebook and Pinterest.