Ok, let’s do a short quiz today…
First question: how much math do you remember from school?
Oh, that’s right, you only remember addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
Why do you remember those?
Yes, that’s correct. It’s because you use them all the time in everyday life.
Second question: Have you learned more or less since graduation?
Answer: Probably more. At least this is certainly the truth in my case.
So, what’s all this have to do with lifeschooling?
Well, if we are going to the tremendous effort of teaching our children, we definitely want to be certain to make it count for something in the long run. We’re basically wasting our time if all we do is stuff useless knowledge into our children’s heads. Is there an alternative to this form of “learning”?
I think the answer is a resounding YES!
We can give our children a firm foundation based on beneficial, practical, life applicable learning. This does not mean we must not teach things such as fine arts or history but do so in a way that actually immerses our children in them where they can see the benefit and hopefully retain them for life.
An example of this would be history.
We can give our kids all the dates, names and places to memorize but most likely they will have forgotten that in 10 years. Or we can tell our children the stories behind what happened. Put faces on these dry facts and make them come alive with storytelling at night time by lantern light. Go to a historical reenactment or interview grandparents about the Great Depression or Vietnam War.
I guarantee these are things they will remember and perhaps put to use later on in life.
We want our children to see the why, how and meaning behind what we are teaching them.
I can clearly remember asking many times in school, “when will I ever use this in life?” Most often, the answer has been “never”!
Making Learning Count
I have a subject in our homeschool I call “life skills”.
It covers everything from housework to splitting wood. It’s really the jobs we spend the majority of our lives doing. We are doing our children a great disservice if we spend the most of their education on things that will never be used and quickly forgotten and fail to focus on the things that really matter!
I wonder how many people wish they had learned to balance a checkbook versus learning trigonometry (which has long been forgotten)?
Again this is in no way limiting what our children can or should learn. Really that’s based on each individual child and their bent. However, it does mean that we should make their learning count for life and ultimately their eternity!
One of the things we do in our lifeschooling is making Nature Study a very hands-on, everyday event. This is extremely simple and very effective.
How does it work practically?
One way is to just take them outside to explore for themselves. I will also point out plants growing wild, their medicinal uses, edible properties, etc. We might then gather some, eat it if it’s edible, take a picture or draw it. I don’t make a huge deal of it but it’s incredible what plant identification they pick up in this natural learning way.
Daddies are a great use in this area too! They might often feel left out in regular “homeschooling learning” but they can really shine here! Many Dads don’t realize how beneficial it is to their children to learn hands-on math at their side while building a shed or another woodworking project.
Once you get the idea in your head that true learning doesn’t have to take place seated at a desk and realize true learning simply happens in life it will open an entirely new world of possibilities for both you and your children. It will remove shackles of boredom and the heavy weight of useless work. It will enliven, encourage and renew your homeschool experience and your children will rise up and bless you for giving them a solid, firm foundation that truly prepared them for life!