"I am not a teacher, but an awakener." Robert Frost
I've learned a lot through homeschooling. Not only has it helped me refresh my vocabulary, remember the differences between concrete and abstract nouns and ignited a curiosity for science but it's also taught me a lot about my children. One of the main things I've learned is that half the battle of homeschooling is un-teaching them some of the bad habits they've learned in school.
There are many things I want for my children that they weren't getting from school. They weren't learning how to use their imagination. They weren't learning to think outside the box. They weren't gaining confidence. The problem is, I didn't realize these things until I got them home from school and unwrapped them.
My kids were starting to lose their childhood. Most of their days were so scheduled that there wasn't much time where they could just be kids. They were taught how to follow and be obedient but they were losing their ability to lead and think for themselves. The vibrancy of childhood and all of it's wonder was being slowly crushed out of them.
One of the greatest joys in homeschooling is that I get to awaken their childhoods. I do this by allowing them to ask a lot of silly questions, most of which turn out to be not so silly anymore. We often start on one subject and end up a million light years away from it. The other day we were discussing "The Little House In The Big Woods" and that discussion led to the different ways that people preserve food. My son asked a question about how refrigerators work. I began talking about freon which led to a discussion of how some gasses (including freon) are being implicated in the destruction of the ozone layer. Before we knew it we were talking about ways that we could save the environment and I ended up teaching them how to hang clothes on a clothes line. It was a million miles away from Laura Ingalls Wilder but there we were, unlocking our brains and our curiosities.
I've noticed a huge growth in their imaginations too. It's as if someone flipped a switch, a tiny part of their minds were opened and the world and all it's possibilities rushed in. At the park they pretended that they were on a sinking ship and all the kids that were there became their "crew." They pretend that they are slaying flying monsters with swords they've attached around their waste using their father's belts. They imagine that they are sailing across rivers to distant lands. I used to have to encourage their imaginations. Now, all I have to do is stand back and be amazed.
One of the biggest ways we can teach our children is to get out of their ways. I'm finding that their love of curiosity and learning is already planted firmly within them. I just need to nurture it. I need to excite and encourage. As soon as I step in with complicated lesson plans, the moment is lost and the mood is killed. If I can provide a romantic environment for learning, however, it becomes a love fest that can last for hours.
So, as Robert Frost, I am also an awakener. I am unlocking my children's playfulness, their inquisitiveness, their creativity. I'm lifting up their self esteem to such heights that they can no longer see the ground. I am loving them in ways I never knew possible and I'm helping them wake up, wipe the crustiness of conformity from their eyes and show them the possibilities that lie ahead of them.