Blog writer of The International Paradigm, Anthony Diflorio asks:
As a parent who educates their kids at home, how have you helped to promote and sustain curiosity in your children’s minds? It is something which I personally feel formal schooling fails to do.
While I agree that most formal schooling fails to sustain curiosity, I put much of the blame on parents. My children are in their teens now and while many people comment that it must be extremely time consuming (and intimidating) to home school at the high school level, I find that the academics take less of my part time as they get older. If children are not learning to learn as they approach adulthood then we’ve missed the point of their education. If they haven’t observed something that sparks their desire to learn, then again, we’ve missed the point. So, for starters, we defined the purpose of education differently from preparation for the work force. Education is more about wholeness of the adult that they will become and less about punching the clock.
From that basis, here are a few things that we’ve done very intentionally.
1) Turn off the television. The programming is not only addictive, but ridiculously shallow. Studies have shown that a child’s brain is much more active while staring at a blank white wall than while watching, even education TV. It’s really that bad. And, it gives you the time to do the better things.
2) We forgo much of the inane social media that encourages shallow conversation and sound bite reading and actually engage in research and discourse. We talk or write, we read real books and in-depth articles. We don’t just tell our children what we believe, but teach them why we believe it. Teens have a sixth sense for hypocrisy, so living our beliefs must go hand in hand. We encourage our children to teach us what they’ve learned, discuss what they’re thinking and to defend their theses.
3) We don’t over schedule them, but instead give them free time to think, to dream, to experiment and to explore. Our entertainment oriented society encourages a constant noise. We shut off that noise and give them time for their own thoughts to emerge.
4) We teach our children life skills. It gives them confidence that they can succeed in the adult world. In this they may also find their passions.
5) We give our children access to many kinds of people from different walks of life and from different age groups. Homeschooling does not mean that I must, or even should, formally teach them all things, so we find them additional teachers who will challenge them. I find it an interesting notion that sending children into an isolated society dominated by a same-aged peer group will somehow result in whole adults. I think society asks more from schools than can possibly be accomplished in that environment.
6) We spend a lot of time with our children. We have foregone economic opportunities in favor of family opportunities. We don’t believe that quality time happens outside of quantity time.