"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” - Hodding Carter

Life "school" is our approach to homeschooling.  I take ideas from a variety of philosophies and approaches and combine them for the unique needs of our family.  I strive to provide a leadership education for myself and my children.  My goal is to inspire, not require, my children to develop a love of learning.  I ensure that they have access to classic books, mentors, and appropriate tools.  We utilitze the library and the internet as well as the community and the natural world all around us. 

"Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is." - John Holt, A Life Worth Living (1971)

I should share that we have tried following a structured curriculum due to my fears that my children wouldn't learn enough soon enough and stay on target with their peers in public school.  I had previously read a few unschooling books (see list below) and knew in my heart that it was a natural thing to do.  Yet, I didn't have the confidence when my children hit the legal age for required schooling to stick with it.  Still, first grade started with much excitement to get the new workbooks and learn.  However, within a few months, the excitement had turned to "do we have to?"  In that timeframe, I stumbled across the "Thomas Jefferson Education" approach to leadership education and read more about it.  Thankfully, we decided to take a leap of faith and make a change.  Within the very first week after making the workbooks optional, the love of learning started to return.  The kids noticed the "mL" on a soap bottle and the "L" on an orange juice container and we dove into a discussion about the metric system and volume (they had been bored with the repetition in the arithmetic workbook, and this new information was greeted with much enthusiasm and attention).  A bit later, I suggested that while the workbooks are now optional, they can still choose to use them anytime.  This led to them browsing through the rest of the arithmetic workbook and asking about anything that they hadn't yet mastered.  We are no longer content to do the minimum daily assignments as stated in a packaged curriculum and have not ordered one again.  We've been reading more, doing more, learning more, and enjoying our time together more.  What a change I have seen in our attitudes since choosing to "inspire versus require".

From book "Unschooling - A lifestyle of learning" by Sara McGrath:
  • You could choose to perceive unschooling as unlimiting the possibilities, which feels like a celebration of freedom. 
  • We learn naturally when left to pursue our own personal interests. 
  • We own our interests - our passions, dreams, and goals - and also the responsibility for pursuing and attaining them. 
  • We acknowledge that we learn all the time, all learning has value, and we learn best by our own motivation, in our own ways.
  • Natural learning practices include: trial, observation, invention, asking for instructions.
  • A parent might offer help or new information at any time.
  • "Sprinkling" refers to the placement of interesting things around the house where children may discover them.
I was publicly "educated" and valedictorian of my class followed by a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree.  Yet, I find that I was ignorant until the decision to homeschool (lifeschool, leadership education, library, etc) my children and hence, myself!  Bravo to those of you much further along this path than I and to all of us making this effort for ourselves, our families, and the future.

If you dare seek the truth about public education, watch this:
The Ultimate History Lesson with John Taylor Gatto

Related Reading:
Poem by Denis Waitley
Teach Your Own by John Holt
A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille
Unschooling by Sara McGrath
Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery by David H. Albert
Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto
The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto
Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for the Young Child by Kathy Martin & Carol McCloud
Making Memories by Josie Bissett
The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
Homeschooling for Excellence by David Colfax

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