Turning Homeschooling into Family Schooling.
I was reading a book by the brilliant homeschool expert, Diana Waring, who wrote the fabulous history curriculum, History Revealed. I loved the way she told stories. I loved her style, her philosophy, her wisdom, and her obvious intelligence and understanding of learning theory.
In the book, she was telling about some ways to get children excited about read-aloud time. She suggested several well-known titles of Classics and books I had seen on many reading lists. But I stopped short when I read the title of a series that she suggested that the family read together for fun. It was called, “Hank the Cowdog”! Did my eyes deceive me? Was that a real title? Of a real series? And was the super intelligent, highly academic, paragon of educational virtue suggesting that I read a book called “Hank the Cowdog” to my little homeschooled prodigies?
This was during the days before the internet was widely available, at least in my house. I couldn’t just Google it real quick and see what in the world a cowdog was. So I had to go to the library and see if it was a real book, and if they had it. To my utter amazement, they had it on the shelf!
Thus began our fond relationship with Hank the Cowdog and his furry and not-so-furry friends. And we developed a deep admiration for the author, John R. Erickson.
We actually got to meet him at a conference! This is my daughter, Abby, with John R. Erickson. He spoke at the conference and read from one of the misadventures of Hank the Cowdog. It was so fun! Our family attended the conference together in Huntsville, AL.
To me, this is how homeschooling becomes Familyschooling. It is far more than teaching children academic subjects. The conference I was referring to was about entrepreneurship. We are learning how to start a family business together. Family business is not a typical school subject, but we think it is very important and are glad to be able to dedicate time to learning and implementing it together.
We read aloud together and enjoy the shared experience of a wonderful story, and it bonds us together as a family. We’ll just be hanging out together and suddenly something will remind one of us of a “famous” line or favorite scene from a Hank the Cowdog episode, and we all start laughing and repeating it and building on it in our own special way. It’s like an inside joke that the whole family understands. It’s great fun!
Other ways that we could build our family culture through homeschooling are:
- Cooking together
- Baking together
- Holiday traditions – certain foods, decorations, books and activities that your family enjoys every holiday
- Cleaning together
- Family projects, like building or gardening, craft projects, community service projects
- Science projects, like raising caterpillars, tadpoles, or a pet or farm animal. Sometimes even a baby animal that is found without its mother.
- Music – singing together, playing instruments, listening to music together, concerts, etc.
- Field trips, vacations, and traveling together
When we homeschool we have more time with our children. It gives us lots of opportunities to connect with them and get to know them well. We can help them navigate through misunderstandings with siblings and friends. We can encourage them to pursue their interests and passions and support them in activities that would take place during “normal” school hours.
In this way, we instill trust, confidence, and security in our children. They know that their family will always have their back. They are more grounded and willing to try new things. They feel like they belong. And that’s a good feeling.
At home with their family is the best place for children to experience relationships, conflict resolution, loyalty, honor, selflessness, and so many other character traits. If we cultivate a warm, loving, open relationship with our children, they will come to us with questions and concerns.
And family meetings and prayer time can be a time of great learning and camaraderie and bonding. As we pray for each other and share our hearts, the bonds grow stronger, and the hearts and minds become united.
So let’s be intentional about making our homeschooling more than just “school”. Let’s emphasize relationships, encouragement, love for each other, good character, family identity and culture, building each other up, and being there for each other. Cultivate friendship among the siblings and with the parents as they grow older. And let’s show the world that family was Gods’ idea by Turning Homeschooling into Family Schooling!