I've gathered together a group of girl friends and we'll be heading to the local theater for a mom's night out to watch Mom's Night Out!
While the movie, certainly, strikes a rather significant chord of camaraderie with ALL mommas who desperately need to exhale, it has a special appeal for those of us who homeschool.
As you'll see in this short trailer, the co-writer/director was homeschooled. He credits his mom for pulling him out of a traditional school setting in order to invest in his talents and cultivate his natural bents. He's a movie director today, because of a mom who recognized the need for passion-directed learning.
As homeschool mommas, we have such a unique opportunity to nurture life-long strengths in our kids...something that would be difficult to do if they were in a brick box somewhere pushing papers around for six to eight hours a day. We need to EMBRACE that opportunity and create a homeschooling environment that is DIFFERENT from the status quo.
As a self-proclaimed book nerd, I'd absolutely agree that book learnin' is needed! But, it should be woven together with LIFE-learnin' and LOVE-learnin' and LAUGH-learnin' for a more well-rounded education.
While my children may not necessarily be autodidactic, they ALL are passion-driven learners. And isn't that the way EVERY child is from birth?
No one has to teach a toddler to be curious or a preschooler to ask "WHY?" A passion to learn is as natural for a child as breathing.
But sadly, once they reach school age, so many inquisitive kids lose their zest for learning because their brick-box environment, whether at HOME or AWAY, drills it out of them.
|Writing a short novel for two of her younger homeschooling cousins|
Our children need us to invest in their passions...to nurture their natural talents...to foster a love for their God-given bents.
Admittedly, I am no expert. I just do what works for my kids. But, as they say, the proof is in the puddin'. I've been adhering to this simple formula-of-five all along, and it hasn't failed me yet! So, here they are...my TOP 5 tips for cultivating passion-directed learning in your home.
|Greased Lightning doing his most favorite thing, baking with mom, and passing on the passion to The Newbie|
Embrace boredomLast summer while sitting on the side-lines at the park, I overheard two mothers chatting about the extra-curricular schedules of their daughters. Their weekly agendas included dance, basketball, softball, chess-team, acting classes, piano lessons, and a whole host of other "extras" designed to keep their girls busy, busy, busy.
In and of themselves, none of these activities are necessarily bad. But, couple them with a half-dozen other "worth while" TO DOs, several hours watching TV or playing video games, and a minute-by-minute daily schedule, and you have the makings of a passion-less kid. In our insistence to wear "busyness" like a badge of honor, our society has stripped our children of the chance to become bored and thereby removed the potential for curiosity and exploration. They have no time to develop a passion because they have no time to need one.
|Creating roads with Playdough.|
While I love a freshly-mopped floor just as much as the next mom, I recognize that during this season of my life I need to not only be OK with mess, I need to welcome it. If my children live in constant fear of my reaction to a potential mess, they will never make one. With mess comes passion. With mess comes potential.
I welcome mess because I know I am raising kids not clean floors. There will be plenty of time to have a house that is really clean...someday. For now, I'm content with "clean enough."
|Examining different oils under a microscope|
In our attempts to make a "safe world" for our kids, we have created a padded environment so devoid of risk-taking that our children do not know how to fail. Risk-taking and failure is essential for passion-directed living...for greatness! If I'm constantly living in fear that my child might not succeed, might get hurt, might fail...or allow him/her to live with those fears...I am ensuring a life of mediocrity, a life destitute of passion.
Don't get me wrong, I, certainly, value safety and common sense. But, as the quite passionate Albert Einstein once said, "A ship is always safe at the shore, but THAT is not what it is built for."
|Learning to mix colors using a color wheel|
Say "no" more often
At the risk of sounding counter-productive, I think saying "no" is essential for cultivating a passion. All too often, homeschoolers begin to mimic the "great" of other homeschoolers. THIS family is learning sign language together and THAT family is crafting historically accurate civil war costumes. It's easy to want to reenact their successes. And although most of those "good" things we see happening in the homes of our friends are, in fact, GOOD, they are not always THE BEST for our children. Don't sacrifice THE BEST on the altar of THE GOOD. Learn to recognize your child's individual interests and gifts and be willing to make that your focus. In learning to say "no" to many things, you are affording yourself the time and energy to say "yes" to the BEST things for your kids.
|Reenacting the Trojan War with Legos|
I'm a firm believer that a person's check book shows his/her priorities more than any other area of life. While I recognize that passion-directed learning doesn't always have to come with a hefty price tag, I also know that I would not bake bread, something I love to do and am passionate about, nearly as often if I had to knead the dough by hand every time without the assistance of my rather expensive KitchenAid mixer. The mixer was a gift from my mother-in-law who saw my passion and wanted to invest in it. She wisely assumed that I would WANT to bake MORE OFTEN if I had a tool that made the experience easier and more enjoyable.
The wise purchase of a few quality tools-of-the-trade will enhance your child's overall learning experience and will probably help to provide a more-successful outcome of their efforts.
|Making color-coded drink bands with rubber bands|
With five children, each interested in many things, it's not always easy to foster passion-directed learning. But, by adhering to these five simple creeds, I know I am cultivating a life-time of curiosity...a life-time of exploration...a life-time of learning.
I am creating a homeschool that is as unique as each of my kids.
Need more ideas for real life learning? Be sure to check out these thoughts from the lovely ladies of iHomeschool Network.