Occasionally in my blog I will blather on about something that is on my mind, and I will do my very best to put it into words so that you can understand these things on my mind! Not so easy sometimes, but I am struck by deep thoughts periodically. Usually when I'm emptying the dishwasher or brushing my teeth. I'll share these ideas here and there as they come along. The blog is primarily focused on finding fun and unusual materials for homeschooling, but sometimes I feel the need to shout out an idea. This is one of those times.
Homeschooling doesn't just have to be solely focused on math, science, geography, history........you know, all the usual stuff. We are in a very unique and rare position as homeschoolers because we can help our children grow up to enjoy the sheer task of living. We can help them find hobbies, passions, places to place their energies. We can help them learn to help others. This is an open door through which we should walk through, holding the hands of our kids as we cross the threshold! Think about the possibilities. Think far and wide about the implications of this opportunity, then grab onto it with all of your might and brain power and stay the course! See where it takes them.
Here's what I'm getting at. Yes, do the math, science, geography, history thing. Those are all important and will serve to lead your children down many varied and interesting paths, hopefully to college and beyond. Consider, too, the realm of living we do outside of traditional schooling, what we do with our time when we are not in school or at work (of course ideally, school and work can be focused on passions that a person has - ah! If only it were so for more people!) What sorts of things can you do NOW to help your children develop a love of life, giving and learning that will continue LATER?
Some ideas to get you started. This bears some serious thought, some brainstorming. Get together with your family and ask for ideas. Seek out things that excite you and them. Pay close attention to what excites your child (beyond video games, please). Does he or she have an affinity for animals? If so, investigate a wildlife rehabilitation nonprofit in your area. Volunteer there so your child can learn to assist baby birds, rabbits, owls and other injured wildlife. Probably stay away from working with the big cats until your kids are much older, though :). Check with a no-kill shelter for dogs and cats and see if volunteering is a possibility. Did you know that you can visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah - live in their cabins and help with the animals? They are the largest no-kill shelter in the US and they have a terrific mission. Find them on the web here.
Visit the humane society and see what possibilities for volunteering exist there. Maybe there is a horse-rescue group in town that needs help feeding the horses (again, for older children who understand how to work safely around horses.) How about getting involved with a bird census? Building houses for birds. Volunteering at the zoo or attending a camp at the zoo to learn about animal husbandry. Or start by reading books about these subjects and see where that leads. Nobody says you have to leave the house - yet.
My niece is 8 and wants to be a veterinarian. She got to spend an entire day at a vet's office a few months ago. She wore scrubs, had a stethoscope around her neck, got to 'assist' the vet, groom some animals and 'work' in the lab. She was exhausted but exhilarated at day's end. Now she eats up anything and everything related to animal care and animal medicine. See if you could arrange a day like this - no harm in trying!
Cooking? Investigate recipes together and experiment in the kitchen. Plan a child-directed meal every so often and make a big deal out of it. Pull out the china, the tablecloth and honor your child's efforts. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Find outlets for your child's interests and let him or her go where he or she needs to.
Photography? Invest in a small point and shoot digital camera and a memory card. Teach your child how to download and process pictures. Learn together! Help develop a designer's/artist's eye by letting your child experiment with editing techniques. Post their 'work' in a password protected album and share it with family and friends.
Set up a simple blog for your child and let him pound out his thoughts on the keyboard. Monitor his work and set privacy settings as you see fit. Help him to become the writer or poet he is trying to be!
Does your kiddo like to tell jokes (clean, of course), like to be around people and talk? Let him or her visit a senior living center and spend time with an older person who is craving some company. Sometimes those experiences lead to special relationships.
Graphic design. Computer programming (the 13-year-old down the street asks for Java scripting books for gifts and is becoming quite the programmer). Photoshop guru. Cross country runner. Lap swimmer. Yoga enthusiast. You get the idea. Don't think that because your child is only six that he or she can't do it. If you detect an interest, let them at it! Create space for exploration, but don't push. This is not about you. It's about them and the rest of their lives.
One way to teach your child in this direction is to be actively involved in a passion of your own. Show your child through your actions what you love to do and how much pleasure it brings you.
What a wide open adventure to embark upon! I think I can safely use 'should' in this context. You should think about it. You should consider it. You should do it. Take homeschooling farther and wider!
Let's hear some other ideas - please comment