It is a privilege to be able to educate your child at home in a school without walls. You have absolute say in how you would like your child to receive their learning in an environment you love. Your child doesn’t have to compete with 30 others for your time or attention and you aren’t restricted by time constraints or locked into curriculum content you dislike. Everything you teach can align with your family’s morals and ethics and your child can spend their time exploring their natural curiosities and passions.
But education isn’t something to be taken lightly. There is a real skill in understanding the big picture and it is an engaged home educator who understands this and embraces it to ensure their child receives a robust education that lays the foundation for life long learning.
Many of us have a dream for the future generations following along behind. We want our children educated in a way where they love learning. Where they remain curious throughout their lives and have a deep connection to the people around them and the planet they live upon. We would like to see them able to live more gently upon the earth’s surface and to show deep respect to all the creatures who call this planet home. It would be ideal if they could solve a bunch of the problems previous generations have created and restore earth to its former glory, or at least allow it to recover enough health to support many more generations of people. We would love to see our children and grandchildren living a life of fulfilment, engaged and passionate in their vocations and belonging to a community, living happy and healthy lives of meaning and purpose.
At the same time that we have these dreams for our children, we also have a list of things we don’t want them to experience. We don’t want them jammed into institutions with narrow thinking whose only interest is to produce mechanical thinkers like worker bees in a hive. It is not our intention for our children to spend their lives slogging away in a nine to five job simply existing as a cog on the corporate wheel. Our idea of education isn’t meaningless tests and graphs comparing our children to others or of bullies surpressing the inner light of the ones we care about most. We simply aren’t interested in boring bells ringing and mindless hours of monotonous lectures followed by regurgitation of facts and figures resulting in a ‘one size fits all’ qualification.
So how do we achieve the educating and teaching instruction in a classroom without walls that enables our children to grow into independent, confident, self motivated, engaged ,intelligent and resilient learners who can work collaboratively and cooperatively with others towards a united purpose?
Well it’s not dumb luck! That’s for sure.
You aren’t going to achieve it by simply allowing them to stay home and climb a tree or dig worms out of the garden. There is going to be a need for some type of instructed education that feeds their curiosity and develops the necessary skills to become an adult with the skills to contribute to society as a whole.
If you are serious about creating the next generation of well educated young people to lead this world to the next level then there are some core foundations which will need to be laid down to provide them with a firm base on which they will grow the future.
Obviously there are the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. The written language is one of the greatest forms of communication we have – even more so now in this era of technology and the internet. The ability to communicate well and to understand the messages that others are communicating with you is vital for deep understanding. These lessons have been known in the past as being boring, but that is simply limited imagination on behalf of the teacher or learner. Learning to read and write is exciting and when the instruction is delivered well, via a range of mediums, then it can also be fun. If you are serious about your child having choice in their future (to be a heart surgeon, a writer, a scientist, an activist etc), then they need to be able to be at an intelligence level equivalent to their peers. If they are going to make a positive influence on the world in some way then they will be required to communicate with highly educated people in positions of power. There will be a lot of research to be undertaken and the majority of that will be in written form and require copious amounts of technical understanding and reading of scientific papers. In order to reach this end goal, first the foundations of basic reading and writing skills need to be established.
At the same time that the core skills are being built, there are other skills that are required. The first is a good understanding of the world’s history. I don’t mean the ability to recount boring facts and figures of wars in times past. What I am referring to is an understanding of life on this planet from its very beginning up till now and beyond. Every civilisation that has existed upon this planet has played a part in forming the society within which our children now reside. It is imperative to understand where we came from and how come we live as we do now. It is also necessary to understand the thinking that created the problems of today so that we can use different thinking tomorrow to solve those same problems.
Science is another important subject that needs careful shaping and guidance to deliver a robust curriculum coverage. These are the skills of observation and questioning. Having an understanding of the underlying principles of which we all exist is kind of important! Who we are, how we got here, what we are made of, how we interact with everything else, where we are going, what part of the big picture are we are all questions of science. Really coming to grips with the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the world in which we reside gives us a great sense of belonging and understanding.
The arts are critical. There is so much beauty in the world and it is through the arts that we can experience, or more importantly, express ourselves and our response to that beauty. Becoming a competent artist, writer, musician, composer, sculptor, dancer, singer or actor is simply a way of learning how to express ourselves. We have the means to be great at all of these things if given the opportunity to try in an environment that supports us.
On top of this we haven’t yet addressed the other skills including manners, the ability to serve others, the power of routine and the ability to undertake a task and complete it with self motivation and organisational skills.
And this is where the home education classroom really shines its light. You can take all of these subjects and shape them to your needs. You can adapt your curriculum to encompass all of this learning so that it captures the curiosity of your child. You can offer a safe environment to try new things with no time constraints. You can provide opportunities for observation and for questioning and allow space for creative thinking and problem solving. There are no bullies in your environment, no one is surpressing your child’s ability to think outside the box and dream as big as they can dream. What a gift you have in being able to offer this opportunity to your child. What an incredible young adult you can help shape by providing them a solid foundation on which to construct the most incredible future life.
Up to 2 hours of lessons a day, plus hands on activities means you can easily give your child a quality education at home.View Course Overview
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Enquiry learning is the third piece of the puzzle that fits seamlessly together with Waldorf and Montessori to form our comprehensive education program.The role that Enquiry learning plays is to develop the children’s learning from the ‘Teacher Led’ end of the scale, through to the ‘Child Led’ end. How a child learns is incredibly important to how they approach life and learning opportunities later on in life.
At Functional Education we make an effort to reflect Waldorf, Montessori and Enquiry learning principles. Last week I wrote a post on how we reflect the 8 guiding principles of Montessori into our every day learning. This week I will outline how we incorporate that with the Waldorf aspects of our curriculum.
Montessori and Waldorf learning are closely aligned through the younger years. Each focuses on children learning with their heads, their hearts and their hands.
Preparing our children to attend school can be a daunting experience. It doesn’t matter if we are thinking of enrolling them in a local public school, a private school, an alternative school or considering keeping them in the home environment to school them. All learning environments come with their own challenges and successes. These days it’s more about shaping our children’s educational journey to meet our expectations rather than conforming to societies norms.
A child must be registered in a school from age six, so if a family wishes to homeschool, they need to go to the Ministry of Education website and complete the Home Education Application form before the child turns six.
Functional education can deliver a quality education anywhere you have an internet connection.
One of the greatest benefits of educating your children in a school without walls (at home or on the road), is the ability to spend a significant amount of time outdoors. There is no need to organise a massive field trip and fill out copious amounts of Health and Safety paperwork. Just open the door and go.
This excerpt is from the book ‘The Homeschooling Handbook’ by Lorilee Lippincott, 2014. It is an excellent reference for all things homeschooling, and contains lots of lovely case studies from families who have successfully embarked upon this journey.