The 10 Habits of The New Homeschooler

Old Homeschoolers are regarded as preserving an “old” world view, and as providing very limited learning for their kids. I recently encountered a book called Education. It relates the challenges of a homeschool kid who grew up in the country, as a “preper”, with no access to the modern world, homeschooled up to the age of 17 she had no knowledge of current fairs, or certain historical events. Lots of Bible learning but a very narrow and narrow-minded education.

I guess you can say that the New Homeschooler does the opposite. These kids, own the world they live in because there are no taboos, no limits to what you can learn and how many ways there are to learn them.

#1. We don’t say No, or Wrong, we say WHY.

I have learned to do this because if I don’t I am at risk of coming across small-minded or may miss out on some very interesting learning.

For instance, in an effort to illustrate multiplication to my 7 year old daughter I was going to say that if there were six kids coming to her birthday and they each brought 2 gifts and we wanted to know how many total presents she would have we would multiply 6 kids by 2 gifts. But I wanted to build up to that, so I started out by asking: “If you had 6 kids coming to your birthday and they each brought you 1 gift, How many gifts would you have?” She answered: “8”.  Why? (I asked, perplexed) She answered sweetly: “If you and dad give me one each that will be eight total.”

Another instance was when: She had 6 books to sell at a Yard Sale and she was asking 50 cents for each book. She had stacked them in twos to figure out how many dollars she had in books. I asked how much for all the books, and she said $2. So I asked…WHY? She answered: “If you buy all of them you get a deal!”

This illustrates how you can “teach” your kids in a very rigid way, but you may be limiting real life skills and executive processes. SO, don’t do the thinking for them, let them do the thinking and guide them with…

#2. We ask What Do You Think, vs. providing the “right” answer

When kids present questions or hypothetical situations, we encourage Socratic discussion. My daughter asked me the other day: “Do you ever wonder why we are in this world?” My answer was “Yes, I have. What Do You Think?” We exchanged opinions and then it got silly.

#3. Learning is not male dominated.

We can put more focus on women when learning about Art, Science, Justice, Music, etc. I personally don’t follow or ever want to teach a feminist curriculum. That doesn’t mean that other homeschoolers don’t do that. Here is the difference: I do relish in the fact that when we talk about Art History, we will cover all the famous women artists, as well as the important male artists. But, I will not preface the learning as “this is a female painter that was overlooked by Art History books because we live in a male dominated society and they left out like a hundred important female artists…” I will let her find that out when she’s older.

I just will not leave those important female artists from History. Likewise, we read the biographies of inventors and some are women and some are men. The point is that the New Homeschoolers can create a world view that is more inline with our children’s education and modern society.

#4. They Don’t need to learn out of a box.

Kids can learn about the world around them without a curriculum deciding what and in what order they should learn.

They can understand that everything is connected and see the connections. Astronomy is directly connected with the foods that we eat! Multiplication keeps popping up in everyday live…Math is Art.

If you would like a Guide for Learning Natural Science for kids 5 – 8 years old, check out our post.

Here are other posts you may find useful in your homeschool life:

Best Math and how to help your child learn it

Age Appropriate Skills Kids Can Learn

Project-Based Homeschooling -43 Project Ideas

How to Homeschool 7 -8 Year Olds

#5. We don’t glamorize the military.

We tell it like it is. In our case, and so many other New Homeschoolers specially the ones not living in the United States, we don’t celebrate the military. Military equals a level of violence that we do want to shelter our kids from.

How does our family position it? It depends on the case, and the age of our child. When she was little and saw a soldier she asked about the clothing, we explained that was a soldier and was dressed in military clothes. We kept it simple and said that “soldiers work for the military”.

As she grew she asked more questions about the soldiers and the military. We explain that the military goes to war. We explain what wars are and why they happen. She was very surprised but we assured her that even though it was awful indeed, that it happens and has happened all through history.

We don’t celebrate Veterans Day. We don’t tell her that soldiers and those who fell in war are heroes. We don’t tell her that the military is there to protect us. Protect us from who? Would be the next inevitable question. What would you answer?

#6. Projects, projects, projects

The New Homeschoolers learn more through doing than from textbooks. After all, there is so much to learn through doing vs. books. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t learn from books, only that the school system revolves around reading from a very early age because it is easier for a teacher to practice textbook based teaching.

When you have a bunch of kids in your class that all they want to do is get up, socialize, make things, climb things, chase, and play, the only way you teach is through textbooks because it keeps kids in their chairs.

Then, once in a while, teachers decide there is a project-based opportunity to learn something or to compliment the learning, they ask kids to build a replica of something or a bridge with toothpicks, or what have you….TOO LATE! They should have started with that instead of books, worksheets, and memorization because at that point it is the parents who are tasked with building these things because the kids can’t even tie their shoe laces let alone take on a project on their own.

Old Homeschoolers try to recreate school around their dining table, and put a lot of focus on reading. New Homeschoolers don’t need to rely as much on reading because they understand that homeschooling with mindfulness requires age appropriate learning. Most kids can be exposed to a lot of concepts and learn from hands-on, age appropriate activities.

See Project Based Homeschooling with 43 project ideas.

#7. We Expose Different World Views.

When kids ask us about God or creation we give them our personal view and we add what others also believe. We may talk about different religions.

When my daughter was 5 years olds she became very intrigued about God because her best friend started kindergarten at a Catholic school and he talked about what he learned there and he would pray before starting a meal. Another good friend talked about Church and Sunday school. My daughter asked me about God and I gave her my best answers but tried to keep it as light as possible.

From the information she gathered through different people, she figured that God was a female, and also that she must really exist, since so many people seemed to believe in something god-like and as such, she might actually exist in some realm no-one seemed to really understand.

These days I think she has some doubts as to whether God really does exist, although she is certain about the Tooth Fairy.

When she turned 7 she asked “Who were the first people that were born in the world?” I told her that a lot of people believe God created Adam and Eve, and that they had two sons and thus those two would have been the first. (She thought that made a lot of sense). I also told her some people think alien beings were the first here. BUT, a lot of people believe in the theory of evolution, which means that life emerged out of the reaction of the water and the sun and other microscopic organisms, and from that: fish, reptiles, apes evolved and humans evolved from those primates. She said “What! Who would believe such fantasy!” Again, this is the 7 year old brain.

#8. We focus on play.

Play is the cornerstone of learning. The more kids play the more they learn. It is kids’ natural state, they apply everything to play. Whether it is doing chores, cooking, solving a problem, or going to the store.

Everything is a potential play opportunity for kids and everything can be turned into play. Unstructured play as well as board games, card games, playing tag, hide and seek, or any other structured game. Even when kids are at an age when they can handle more formal learning, they still need a lot of physical play, social play, strategy games, playing a sport, etc.

Project-based learning is often also play based-because the project may evolve organically so the focus is more on the process than the plan, such as building an obstacle course. Please see Project-Based Homeschooling, 43 Project Ideas by age/skill level.

#9. We get a lot of outdoor time.

Some of the best schools GET THIS… The importance of being outside. The Waldorf School puts a big emphasis on spending time outdoors, and getting the kids to be active. And not just the little ones, kids in middle school and high school are also allowed and required to do physical exercise outside before class.

Le Rosey, one of the best private schools in the world has a winter campus where the focus is on winter sports and physical activities for more than three hours per day. Sure they do academics, but that doesn’t take 6 hours per day. By the way tuition is over $100K per year. It’s not a typo.

Though we are not at the Waldorf School and we are not cool enough for Le Rosey, we still get what seems to be the privilege these days to give kids what their bodies want most -movement, outdoor play, sports. Enjoying a picnic breakfast at the botanical garden, going on nature walks, hikes, etc.

#10. We educate outside of the house.

For some New Homeschoolers the World is literally their school. They travel and live in different countries, they learn about the culture, the history, sometimes even the language. But a lot of New Homeschoolers simply take the learning outside. They join co-ops, they take classes like Theater, Art, Music, a foreign language, science, etc. Some may do volunteer work.

This is also useful because as the homeschool mom we can get some ME TIME while the kids are engaged in an organized activity or class.  Check out 10 Tips to Focus on Yourself and Homeshcool.

I realize this post reflects more what we do as a homeschool family. If you would like to read about how our family homeschooled between 4 and 8 years old feel free to read How We Homeschool – Mindful and Age Appropriate

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