Thursday, November 13, 2014

Core Values for Our Homeschool

Sometimes, often after a rough day of homeschooling, I get a little panicked and I suddenly think thoughts like:

 "He doesn't remember anything I taught him for the last 4 months!"

 "What if he's not keeping up with what the school is teaching?" (Sometimes, a friend of his in his grade comes over, I'll ask the child what they're doing in math, or what science topic they're covering.)

 "Will he ever learn to spell?"

I have to step back and remind myself to look at the bigger picture.

What are my goals for my kids? What are my goals in homeschooling? There's a lot of overlap. When I look at the big picture, these smaller worries don't seem too big.

A long, time ago, I read about 5 C's to aim for in raising kids. I've long since forgotten where I read about these, or which 5 were on the original list, but I thought it was cool that they all began with 'C'! I've expanded the list to 7 traits I'd like to help the kids develop:
  • Competence - Developing skills that will allow them to contribute to the community, make a living, and fulfill God's calling for them. Competence will lead to confidence. 
  • Compassion - Seeing the needs of others and looking beyond themselves to help and serve others.
  • Character - Exhibiting godly character in every situation, including honesty, respect, and doing the right thing.
  • Courage - Having the heart to try difficult things and face difficult circumstances, trusting that they can "do all things through Christ who strengthens." (Phil. 4:13)
  • Commitment - Persevering in finishing what they started, and doing what they say they are going to do.
  • Creativity - Nurturing their ability to think outside the box and solve problems.
  • Contentment - "Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have." I don't know where I saw that quote, but I love the sentiment. 
Life is more than learning skills. Education is more than academics. I want to teach my kids how to navigate through life(not that I have all the answers), so I have to remind myself that if I can teach them to have wisdom and life skills, they will better prepared to handle whatever comes their way in the future. Yes, having the multiplication facts down cold would be great, or getting a high SAT score may help him get into a good college, but in the end, these are not the ultimate goals in life.

In addition to the 7 C's, here's some other life lessons I want to instill in my kids:
  • Learning is fun. 
I want them to be curious and excited about the world around them. I don't want their learning to stop at the end of a 'school hours', or be limited to 'school days'. If they have a love of learning, really, it doesn't matter what we miss in our homeschool, they will have the passion and skills to learn it on their own. 
  • Hard work will get you far, when talent and circumstances leave you behind. 
Some things will be difficult to learn or difficult to accomplish.  Sometimes they'll have to work harder for something that comes easily to someone else. Even if they ARE blessed with talent and circumstance, that isn't a license to slack off. Hard work will always be appreciated and yield results.  In our homeschool, Monkey has an easy time understanding math concepts, but writing and spelling is a huge hurdle, and he really has to work extra hard, when Bunny can do the same things without even trying. With the extra time we're able to spend on it now that he's not in public school, his writing and spelling have improved significantly. He still dreads it, but...
  • Life isn't always happy and easy, don't expect it to be.  
Whether it's losing a game or a girl/boy friend, or being treated badly by others, or health problems, or financial stress, or losing loved ones, when difficult things happen, don't give up hope, don't blame it on others, don't wallow in self-pity.  Yes, it will be hard, but God can use hard times to draw people closer to Him, to build their strength, and to help others who have gone through similar hardships. 

For now, there's not much hardship for my kids, besides some basic "I'm not getting what I want", sibling rivalry, and maybe some difficult school assignments. In the homeschool realm, I try to instill that they can't always have everything they want(like taking a month off of school), and if something they are working on is hard and they don't want to do it, they can't just skip it. It's part of life to have to face things you don't like.  

So when I get panicked and worried about whether Monkey is 'learning enough', or when we have days when life gets in the way of getting any academic work done, or when he puts up a fight about not wanting to doing an assignment, I remember that there are greater goals beyond our academic goals.