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Monday, September 15, 2008

Independence

Did you know that homeschooled students perform better in college than their institutionally schooled counterparts? One thing that makes homeschooled students perform so well in college is the fact that they are used to being autonomous and independent in their learning. They are used to self educating. Our job is to give them progressively more autonomy and independence as they age.

How do we foster this independence? Well, once they have learned to read, they should be reading to learn. As they progress through elementary school, we should be using materials that teach the student in the book– requiring less of a human teacher. We should also read aloud less and require them to read to themselves for understanding, comprehension and insight. Most students learn more when they read for themselves and explain in their own words what they learned than if they listen to another read.

Dr. Jay Wile tells us,

"My motivation for becoming involved with the homeschooling movement was the fact that my best university students were the ones who had been homeschooled...If I could point to one thing that made my homeschooled students such good university students, it would be the fact that they were able to learn independently."

I have often seen that parents are burdened by homeschooling because they have taken too much responsibility upon themselves. They don't teach their children to become self motivated and independent. Teaching our children to become independent learners requires parents to pass the baton, giving their children a vision for the future and a sense of responsibility over their lives.

My children have been told over and over that the choices they make about school and learning when they are young will influence their entire future. They are completely and fully responsible and in charge of who they turn out to be, what they will do for a living, how they will live, where they will live and what kind of life they will have. They know that even at ten years old, they are making choices that have far reaching consequences or blessings. My children feel responsible for their education. I don't carry the entire burden; once they learned to read, I passed on most of the burden to them. If they were in school, the burden would not be on the teacher; it would still be on them.

In real life, a self motivated person will always do better than the unmotivated, distracted fellow. In truth, our children are ultimately responsible for receiving their education. As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Our job is to help our children see this very important truth - that we are not going to always be taking care of them; one day, they must take care of themselves and others. It is especially important for our boys to know this truth - for they will one day have a family depending on them. Sadly, it is usually our boys that are the least likely to jump at the chance to do school work. Our job is not so much to educate them, as to provide them the tools to educate themselves and instill in them the wisdom to see that their future is in their own hands and they must take it seriously. The tools we provide them are also very important, and that is the last thing I want to encourage you to consider.

Many times, in the fear of "not doing enough" we adopt curricula that actually makes teaching harder and more burdensome for us and our children - unnecessarily burdensome. When choosing curriculum, consider how much time is going to be required of you - the teacher, and how appealing the material looks to the children. Remember, our children should be learning to self educate. Our children will benefit greatly in their future, whether college is a part of it or not, if they are empowered to take ownership over their learning, their knowledge, and their education.