We recently acquired a flock of chicks. Twelve tiny chickens covered in soft, downy fluff that cheep non-stop and need constant care for their first weeks of life. My homeschool has come alive since they came to join us. It’s been some of the most productive time my children have spent learning all year. What better way to teach boys to slow down and be gentle than to hand them a tiny chick and trust them with it? Would my kids learn as fully how to take time to care for something helpless and needy by listening to a book read by me?
Caring for chicken babies that could easily be handled too roughly or snatched up by our prowling cat has made my own babies better people. Watching my toddler hold a chick in her hands with a soft and gentle touch while she sings it a sweet lullaby is priceless. The things my children are learning must be taught in the moment, while using their own hands and minds to tackle a real problem and come to a solution. How do you build the best home for chickens? Start learning by planning your own coop in your backyard. What should I feed my chickens? Spend time researching chicken’s diets and then test out what our own chickens like best.
One of the most amazing things I have learned about homeschooling is how much my kids learn outside the traditional school subjects. It’s easy to get caught up in how much time you should spend on math, reading, writing, science, music, art, language, and other subjects. It’s easy to think that your kids will only learn something they see during “school time” or from a “school book.”
It gets even worse when you start tracking and quantifying your child’s learning. When you have to see each life experience that influences them as “math”, “reading”, or “science” it becomes tedious and lifeless. The things that make us who we are cannot be labeled and sorted into columns in a planner. The things that define us come from the intricacies of our lives and our everyday interactions with our families, our communities, and our surroundings.
The fact is, we are all learning as we go. You don’t need to be staring at a textbook to learn about the world around you. You don’t need to be sitting to be soaking in knowledge. You don’t need to worry about spending hours and hours in textbooks every day for your children to learn from you. In fact, it would be best if some of that time were spent exploring nature, hiking, or pursuing a hobby.
That’s not to say that your child shouldn’t learn math, reading, writing, history, science, or social studies; those things are important. Knowledge can be learned in a variety of ways though; as a homeschooling parent you have a lot of flexibility with how to expose your child to a variety of learning methods. Each of our families is different, so we have different ways that we expose our children to knowledge. Having a solid core for your homeschool is a great foundation; getting your child interested in reading biographies, visiting the aquarium and studying sharks, or allowing them to help raise a flock of chickens will enrich their learning immeasurably.
The next time you feel like homeschooling is challenging, I encourage you to remember that you are your child’s first and best teacher. If you are wondering if you can really teach your child and they will come out in the end knowing enough, remember that not all learning occurs during school hours. What you put into your child’s life as a homeschooling parent is important. As long as you are providing an environment for learning, encouraging your child to pursue their gifts and talents, and giving them the love that they need to grow, they will walk into adulthood with the knowledge and skills they need. They will mature to be innovative, creative, wise adults who know how to learn. What better wisdom could you give your child?