Lifeschooling encourages character, connection, curiosity, and creativity
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. Lots of books and summers off sounded like a good plan. More than that, I had had a series of bad experiences in public school and I wanted to make a difference somehow. I wanted to be the kind of teacher that I wished I’d had myself.
Enter the concept of homeschooling. I first heard about it when I was about 12, but it didn’t seem like a real possibility — or even legal. By the time our oldest daughter was born, I had done my research. My husband and I knew that we would homeschool when the time came. The reasons we made the decision to homeschool are numerous, but how we came to lifeschooling is a little bit more subtle.
Adopting a Lifeschooling Philosophy
The public school schedule was pretty firmly ingrained in my mind when I first started homeschooling my daughter. Summer break, Christmas break, Easter break — they all just seemed like a natural choice. I’ll admit that part of it stemmed from my fear of being “too different” from other kids in the family or in the neighborhood. Following the traditional school schedule could save us from too many questions of “Why aren’t you in school?” or “Are you excited for summer break?”
As a new homeschooling mom, I lacked the confidence or even the basic realization that the forced schedule was a big part of why public school wouldn’t work for us in the first place.
I stuck with that forced schedule all through the first year and over halfway into the second. Up until our second daughter was born. Then a move to a new house and having our third daughter in a span of just two years made me re-think the schedule altogether.
The Freedom to be Flexible
Because life was busy and chaotic, I felt that we were “falling behind” when we didn’t stick to the schedule. (That was a problem I purely invented, by the way, because we didn’t actually fall behind.) I was fighting a perception that didn’t really apply to us because I thought I had to conform to that traditional school schedule and mindset.
With a few years of homeschooling under my belt and two more children in the family, I had gained the confidence I needed to finally re-evaluate and do what I knew was best: break free from arbitrary school schedules and embrace learning as a lifestyle that lasted year-round.
I moved from prepared curriculum to living books and delight-directed learning. I designed activities and lessons that were inspired by my daughters’ unique interests, talents, and creativity. Homeschooling became much more purposeful, much more natural. Specific academic goals relaxed into life experiences, character building opportunities, creative projects, and encouraging their God-given curiosity. We made connections naturally — with learning, with the world, with each other, and with God.
What did we gain when we gave up the typical schedule and fully embraced lifeschooling?
- The freedom to follow interests in learning without worrying about accomplishing a certain task at a certain time.
- The freedom to take time off whenever we need to. For just about as long as we need to because there is no “catching up” to be done.
- A renewed eagerness to learn because it is fun rather than a chore to be completed in a certain time frame.
- Less time spent on review because we don’t “lose” information over summer breaks or other periods of rest.
- A lifestyle of learning that isn’t forced to take place between September and June alone.
Those are some of the major benefits to lifeschooling. There are other perks, like traveling during the off-season when the prices are lower and there are no crowds, too.
Does it really work for us?
I recommend that all homeschoolers ask themselves this question. Add to that a few more questions until you’re sure that your homeschool philosophy and what really benefits your children line up. Some questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- Does our current schedule and style of homeschooling really work best for us or am I just doing it out of habit?
- Am I afraid to make changes?
- Am I working with our strengths and interests or fighting them?
In our family, lifeschooling set us free of artificial schedules and opened up our whole lifestyle of learning.