Did you know you can purchase audio CD’s and MP3?s of workshops that you missed? They are available shortly after a workshop ends at the Rhino Technologies booth in the exhibit hall! They also sell recordings available for download after the Expo on their website at http://www.rhino-technologies.com
This is a VERY popular option for maximizing your Homeschool Expo experience!
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Debbie Strayer, a true blessing to this world and an inspiration for Homeschoolers all over. See more here.
Education is not quite as mysterious as it sometimes seems. The truth is that education is a line upon line, precept upon precept project that never ends. Homeschooling recognizes that all of life is learning, and we seek to create life-long learners. Education is not confined to a classroom; it is life itself. While that sounds like an intimidating reality, it is a comforting one. As the homeschool journey unfolds, we realize that each year simply allows us to build on knowledge gained previously. It is an exciting journey. It reminds us why the foundation is critical.
Math is the simple example. Basic math facts develop into complicated algebraic equations over the years. But every subject shows us the exciting truth of learning’s progression. In elementary school we learn there was a deadly plague that devastated Europe in the 1300s. In high school we learn how the disease spread and begin to understand its impact on art, public policy and even the psyche. In Science our primary age children learn that some foods are healthier than others. In High School, nutritional complexities deepen to unveil nutrient transport to cells and healing potential within foods. Each layer of knowledge adds to the earlier layers and opens the door to exciting applications.
Keeping the progressive nature of education in mind quiets the fears when the process stalls. It helps us remember building takes time. Sometimes new facts pile up too rapidly and review is needed to reset the foundation. Other times minds grab facts too quickly and erroneous conclusions are jumped to because knowledge pieces are missing. Helping children hook new materials onto existing knowledge is a key to progress. In fact, that is the goal of an educator: find a place of understanding a child can put information upon and build a higher structure. The process is the destination!
When we added a puppy to our home, we purchased a set of training DVDs to help us ‘get things right. ‘I would love to say we are devouring those DVDs, but the truth is we snack at them. Even the snacking is bearing fruit. A recent clip from the trainer pierced my home schooling heart:
“Telling isn’t teaching.”
Wow! That was such a revelation to me. I realize it should not have been so shocking. After all, I have been a mom nearly twenty years. Just because I tell my child something does not mean they have learned (or even done) what I have said. Honestly, I have been a human nearly fifty years and I have not learned all that I have been told. But the truth of this little nugget is so convicting as an educator.
It is so easy to think that if a lesson has been presented, a lesson has been learned. Every life experience tells us that this is not true. Most things have to be learned, re-learned and practiced over and over before they are actually learned. One of my greatest joys in home education is not ‘teaching to the test’ as public school educators must. Our education goal is to take each subject and allow it to link to other knowledge and expand our ability to understand the world. Such a goal is not a one-time lesson approach to any subject.
Years ago, as a novice Sunday School teacher, a wise woman told me, “Remember: you are teaching children, not lessons.” When a curriculum is moving faster or delving deeper than the student’s mind can grasp, it may be time to set up camp for a bit. The intensive effort to fully grasp a subject will pay dividends as the course progresses. That does not mean that a fifth grade student must probe to the depths of DNA that a College Biology student will. Every year of education builds upon the previous years. There is time to delve but basic understandings can not be compromised.
In the early years of education children excitedly rush through lessons. The natural parent reaction is pride in their precious ones impressive intellect. We must take care that the accomplishments are solidly rooted in understanding. Sometimes ‘doing’ can happen without understanding. I can plug in a light but not know the details of electricity. That is okay in some cases, but it is not conducive to real learning in an education setting. Excellent readers may suffer from poor comprehension. Intuitive math ability may mask a total lack of process understanding. What appears to be repetitive, unnecessary work may be exactly what is needed to transform telling into understanding.
Finally, as a parent educator, grasping the truth that ‘telling isn’t teaching’ opens a door for patience–and humility. Our job is teaching: not telling. When our students have not learned, we have not taught. We must extend mercy to them in their ’failure to learn’ as they must extend mercy to us in our ‘failure to teach.’ The University of Home Education offers a curriculum for all. Be transformed!
One of the best things about home education is that it opens opportunities for learning that simply can not fit more traditional schedules. We will take a regular look at some irregular ways to maximize learning opportunities. Pets are a great place to start. Certainly I understand that children in public school have pets. I also understand that time shortages exist. Our lifestyle lends itself to getting the most out of every experience!
In a homeschool setting, the responsibility for caring for a pet covers a much broader spectrum than simply seeing him a few hours a day. Housetraining a puppy is an all-day proposition and waiting is not an option for a puppy. Both necessary tasks (I.e. English) and fun times (I.e. TV shows) alike bow to the needs of a puppy. Managing interruptions, sacrificing time, putting another (even if it is a four-legged other) are critical character concerns a puppy can teach. As a child ages, even night-time needs can become their challenge…a slow start in the morning will not upset the entire day!
The freedom to delve deeper into a topic offers great education possibilities. Over the years, the additions of new pets to our home have initiated many school projects. Researching breed characteristics (of dogs, horses, rabbits and even chickens) honed research and report skills. Persuasive writing techniques blossomed with a disagreement on which breed of dog we should purchase. Lessons on compromise presented themselves as well. Biology understanding deepened with a look at horse genetics. Catching a love of learning involves being interested in what you are learning. Pets are a terrific tool for planting seeds of learning excitement.
Even physical fitness requirements can flow into and out of a pet. Building dog agility or horse-back riding into the school day accomplishes much more than just meeting state mandates for physical education. The homeschool lifestyle is a course study in flexibility, individual passion and creativity. Enjoy the uniqueness of your children and your family as you accomplish the over-arching goal of education.