The Difference Between “HOME-schooling” and Doing “SCHOOL-at-Home”

No, I’m not just splitting hairs! (Smile)

In the almost 16 years that we as a family homeschooled; combined with more than a decade of serving families through Love2Learn Curriculum and more recently also Imperial International College, I have become acutely aware of the fact that there is a significant difference between these two concepts!

Although I acknowledge that it’s “horses for courses”, I am convinced that there is infinitely more enjoyment to be had in “HOME-schooling”; both for us as parents – and more importantly – for our children, as it offers more fertile soil in which to cultivate independent learners, with a life-long love for learning!

For most of us adults, our memory of school probably did not include being encouraged to love learning… if anything - speaking personally – it could at best be described as a period of my life during which I learnt to memorise facts, so as to pass exams!
(And while I’m at it, I must confess that my journey towards attaining my University degree, was little different).
I can assure you that this is not something that I’m proud of! Let me hasten to add that – if my experience of sharing this in consultation with many homeschooling families over the years is anything to go by – then a significant number of you reading this right now, will strongly identify with my experience and are no doubt silently nodding in agreement!

This then begs the question, did we in fact receive an EDUCATION, or did we simply learn to play the “test game”?
Quite a sobering indictment of 12 years of our life……a period that constituted a critical time during which the foundation of our thought processing and character was laid!

I’m sure you would agree that the above dilemma is certainly not the experience we would want for our own children!

Pressing on then… our “SCHOOL-at-home” mind-set tells us that the solution to doing well in a subject, is to have a “good” teacher.
(I did well in Maths in Grade 7 because I had a “good” Maths teacher, but then in Grade 8 I “bombed out” because I had a “bad” Maths teacher?)
… Sound familiar?!

With respect, I believe this to be a flawed way of thinking, because its extrapolation breeds misconceptions like, "I can’t homeschool, I'm not a qualified teacher", or "I don’t think I will be good at teaching my
own children", or I wasn’t “clever” at school, so I’ll never be able to teach my children” and so on and so forth! 

All told, it is one of the biggest deterrents to parents considering homeschooling!

In our homeschooling seminars over the years, Ivana (Founder and Author of Love2Learn Curriculum) regularly expressed to homeschooling parents, the need for them to encourage their children to become INDEPENDENT LEARNERS.

And therein lies a vital key to the difference between “HOME-schooling” and doing “SCHOOL-at-home”.
“HOME-schooling” is not so much about us as parents “teaching”, in the traditional sense of the word; rather, we need to be encouraged to see our role more as FACILITATORS TO LEARNING.

Following is a SIMPLE illustration...

Picture three distinct elements in the education process:

Resource Material          ……….                    Teacher                …..…..                   Student

Scenario 1:
Using the “good” and “bad” Maths teacher example, painted above…

Step 1: The Teacher interacts with and digests the Resource Material; and then the Teacher prepares the lesson…

(Resource Material + Teacher)  ………………………………                    Student

Step 2: With greater or lesser degrees of competence, the Teacher then imparts their knowledge and “teaches” the Student.

Resource Material          ………………………………………….    (Teacher + Student)

Broadly speaking this is the modus operandi in mainstream schools; and in many respects, depicts a typical “SCHOOL-at-home” approach.

Teaching implies lecturing, which conjures up visions of needing to be well-versed or even an expert in that field.
Is it any wonder then that this misconception can so often engender feelings of inadequacy in parents; and is both a source of stress and, understandably, a deterrent to parents considering homeschooling?

The net result:
A “SCHOOL-at-home” approach to education can all too easily discourage and deter parents from pursuing home-based education!

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Scenario 2:
Applying the mind-set that the Parent (Teacher) is there to facilitate learning...

Step 1: The Student is put in direct contact with the Resource Material, and encouraged to discover for themselves, whilst the Parent (Teacher) facilitates!

(Resource Material + Student)
          Parent /Teacher

Now you start to see what we call “HOME-schooling” emerging!

In Scenario 2, where we as the Parent (Teacher) act more as a facilitator, this affords our children more chance for self-discovery!
It is an enabling focus which encourages more two-way discussion and interaction!

The net result:
A “HOME-schooling” approach to education is both reassuring and liberating for parents; not to mention, also being a great catalyst for birthing independent learners in our children!

Given all of the above then, you may well ask, “What does “HOME-schooling” with a view to creating independent learners, look like at a practical level?”

I would suggest that it should include – but by no means be limited to:

  • A recognition that all of life is homeschooling. After all, why would we think we can separate learning from everyday life? Why would we even want to?
  • Encouraging learning – and by this I mean REAL comprehension and understanding; and not just parrot-fashion memorisation.
  • Exposing our children to great literature and, well-written literature. There can be little doubt that what you feed the mind, i.e. that which you put into it; that you can expect to be evident in the fruit. E.g. exposing them to great and well-written literature will equip them to speak and express themselves well and eloquently; and in turn this will permeate through to their written communication too.

If, as we “HOME-school” our children, we can encourage them to become independent learners, it’s not much of a stretch to expect that they will, in the process, acquire a life-long love for learning…
And if we can engender this in our children, then the “battle” is all but won, because everything else flows from there!

Having the goal of "excellence in home education", does not imply the need to be the best, or to create, "experts"; rather it implies the need for diligence, commitment and perseverance! The former is a recipe for self-induced stress, whereas the latter engenders God-honouring character; and surely it is this that should be our overriding goal as we seek to educate our children?

Be encouraged Moms and Dads as you homeschool; you are busy with a task that will impact generations!

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Leadership is Service!

I’ve recently been reminded of the critically important role we as parents play, in homeschooling our children…
The reality is that it involves so much more than just giving our children a good education…
it’s about discipling them and preparing them for life!

God-willing our precious gifts will one day be someone’s husband or wife; and potentially also father’s or mother’s in their own right!
What a privilege we have to daily be significant instruments in their journey to maturity.

The catalyst to my being reminded of our important role, was a spate of social media posts,
where parents were asking for advice on how best to teach their children about serving in the home.
In one instance, it was evident that the parent was at their wits end as a result of their child not “pulling their weight” in the house.
As usual, there were some very valuable comments from parents in response to this “appeal for advice” – you can no doubt picture the type of input and ideas:
Allocate responsibilities/chores, create a checklist to record and track commitment, offer rewards (and punishment) as motivation, …and so on and so forth… the list was quite extensive!

As I read through all these comments, it got me thinking about the biblical concept –

LEADERSHIP IS SERVICE!

This goes completely against so much of what is propagated today in our Western world culture –
be it in the lyrics of songs, business advice and training, self-help books etc. –
most of which tends to focus on “looking out for number one!”

As is so often the case with God’s guideline and pattern for our lives, they are 180 degrees away from the world’s pattern.
One scripture that immediately springs to mind is,
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people…” Ephesians 6:7 (NIV)

And there is barely an age barrier to giving our children responsibilities and encouraging them to serve in the home.
I recall my daughters being required to make their beds from as young as about 3 or 4 years of age.
They slept under duvets; and granted, the finished product may well not have passed a military inspection (smile!),
but the fact was that they had a role to play in serving in the home and this was the start of building “good habits” into them.

It was Charlotte Mason herself who said, “The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.”
And again, “Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.”

Effective and significant leaders know how to serve…
and when it comes to leadership and serving there is no better role model than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

Paul, in his letter to the church in Philippi has the following guidance for our lives,
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:3-11 NIV

Moms and Dads, let us not neglect our duty - but rather may we rise to the challenge! -
to build good habits into our children, and more specifically, the habit of serving; so that in time,
we may raise a generation of God-honouring leaders who love to serve!

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MIT goes out of its way to encourage qualified homeschooled students to apply

The full article was first published on: http://www.ronpaulcurriculum.com/snip/267.htm

Following is an extract…

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a highly respected academic institution. This university goes out of its way to encourage qualified homeschooled students to apply.
When a school with a reputation as good as M.I.T.'s publicly acknowledges that homeschooling is not inherently disadvantageous academically, this sends a message to the other schools, few of which can match M.I.T. in terms of academic reputation.

Universities want self-disciplined students to apply. Self-disciplined students are less likely to flunk out in the freshman year. They know how to study without being nagged. The transition to a university environment is easier for them.

Ed. - With special thanks to Titus Orpen (L2L family) for sharing this with us.

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With the appeal of homeschooling spreading far and wide, some of you reading this will have only recently started homeschooling; and are now - at best – just a few weeks into this journey…

It is highly likely that if you haven’t already experienced this, then you will in the near future; and that is, bumping heads with your children on one or other issue regarding your homeschooling…

Whether it’s around their focus, concentration, listening and taking instructions (or more likely their lack thereof); their questioning your authority, pushing the boundaries and so on and so forth, it is a given that your children will from time to time, push you to the limit!

For all you veteran homeschoolers reading this (for “veteran” read, “someone who has been homeschooling for a good 4 – 5 years+), I can just picture the wry smile spreading across your face, as you think back to those “early days”.

In some respects they were “the good old days”; but in reality, for most homeschooling Moms, those days could better be described as the “character building” days; or as I once heard someone say, “Those days when I had to restrain myself from bundling the children into the car and depositing them at the front gate of the nearest school…
…and LEAVING them there!”

Now we can laugh about it… but back then… boy oh boy, there were some close calls!

Thankfully we can be a little “tongue in cheek”, but on a more serious note,

I want to encourage those of you that are starting out with homeschooling, that when you have those days, (notice, I didn’t say “if”…), please do not hesitate to reach out to other homeschoolers and share your frustrations. Remember, they too have been there and they can give you perspective, comfort and advice.

Coupled with this, may I also remind you to heed a really encouraging directive in God’s word in the Bible:
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zech. 4:10, NLT).  

It’s easy and tempting to despise the day of small beginnings, because all too often, it requires hard work and perseverance.
Small beginnings often come with BIG challenges and GIANT resistance.
And let us not forget that we have an enemy in satan who would want nothing more than to discourage, deceive and divide you and your family!

Whatever God has called you to do, press in, persevere and trust Him for His provision, daily!
He is faithful, even when we are not!

Amen.