In this small log home, I love cultivating a life of learning for our wild (often muddy) children. Today, they studied geography for fun because they wanted to know about Great Britain. Isn't learning supposed to be filled with joy? Shouldn't children have awe and wonder at the incredible world we live in? How can we as parents model and teach all that our children need to know? If you'd like to rest a moment here in the living room of our log home as the children giggle and read, let's chat about creating fun and simple joy in the precious days of childhood learning.
I went to public school. While I had several incredible teachers, I did not love being forced to learn. Later, I worked in a primary unit, then taught at both a business college as well as a hybrid school. I understand each family will have their unique path for education, yet I truly believe every family can cultivate a deep respect for learning and a wholesome joy as their children learn and grow.
When I first started homeschooling it was actually by accident. My oldest child was 3 and I didn't know why she was into all sorts of toddler mischief until she sat down and wrote "Happy Birthday." I didn't know she could write. Suddenly, I realized my mistake. She was bored! She needed more educational activities in the home. Amazingly, the naughty behavior disappeared when I gave her more structure and new information to learn (and cut out screen time entirely). I'm sure there's a cultural lesson in there somewhere. I found that simple rhythms brought peace to my days as I was raising children and running our businesses.
Creating simplicity in the home is key to long-term success. A gazillion different systems, fancy, expensive, and complicated materials promised to simplify my children's learning experience. And there are great resources out there, but I found that I had to come back to basic principles that worked for my family. So here are my favorite tips:
1. Start young with your little ones. Even my babies have "school" time with the older children. Blocks on a blanket are a great baby school activity.
2. Focus on the basics, reading, writing, and arithmetic (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing). Coming back to this cut through the "mom burn-out" for me. I absolutely love learning and I didn't want that joy stolen by piles of to-do lists and complex schedules, technology, or weird requirements. Basics are better. Whether your children are in public, private, or homeschool, basic subjects are the foundation.
3. Build a rhythm, not a timed schedule. No rushing here, just joyful learning in the same order everyday. I do not watch the clock, but I do the same things in the same order. Obviously, this will look different for each family, but creating a rhythm that is not rushed is vital to bringing joy into learning. Are the children always going to leap for joy at long division? No, but they at least will know that they have plenty of time and a patient parent to walk them through each step.
4. Enjoy the content you are learning with your children. Do you love horses? Study horses. Are you passionate about the environment? Take a year and go zero waste (we did). Do you want to have compassionate kids? Volunteer at a local charity. Include what you love in your home and learn right along with the children. Deep joy comes from sharing life and learning together as a family.
5. Love your children by listening to them and set rewards for them. Hearing their hearts' desires is so important to creating a childhood experience that is fun and simple for them. Do they struggle with math? Set a simple goal to have horse lessons when long division is conquered. Do they want to learn to read? Set a goal and game plan for that special reward when they reach a certain level. Cheer them on! Keep the goal reasonable and age-appropriate, of course, but let them learn to work hard to gain that victory.
Today, my dear friend, know that you have all that you need to grow a love of learning in your children. You can have fun, (minimalist) rewards as they reach new levels. Visiting local libraries in surrounding cities is a favorite free adventure of ours. You can show your children all that you are passionate about in this incredible world. Begin anew to avoid rushing these learning moments when the simple joy of learning is so precious. Savor the excitement at butterflies. Hug the children close when they bring Fall leaves. Breathe deep. The journey is worthy of you taking moments to create and enjoy together!