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Teaching Students to Learn

September 22, 2011

As homeschool parents, our plan is NOT to teach something. Our goal is for the kids to LEARN. I could have taught my kids “at grade level” and they might have not learned a thing. Instead, I offered them curriculum at their ability level, and then they had to learn something that they didn’t already know.

I believe that older teens MUST learn how to teach themselves. If they go to college, they will be expected to learn all the textbook material by themselves. College lectures are most often supplemental to the textbook – not the same. If perhaps they don’t go to college, they will certainly still need to teach themselves some computer skills, or perhaps online banking, or how to buy a car – whatever.

My kids taught themselves Advanced Math (pre-Calculus) and Calculus. They taught themselves physics. I know they understood the material due to the fact I gave them the tests. I didn’t know what the calculus symbols meant, however I knew that my kids answers matched the answers on the key! I could have taught them Biology and Chemistry (because I’m an RN and I understand that stuff) but they actually taught themselves in that also. It just worked out better for us when they were teaching themselves, while I simply checked up on them now and again. Alex taught himself economics, and is now performing graduate level work in economic thought (we’ve been told by his professor. )  He even taught himself psychology and business law, since he got fabulous grades on the college level CLEP exams in those subjects.

Here’s my point: kids will teach themselves something when they are interested in it. It’s fine for kids to do that, plus it works out great with regard to kids that are working on an intensely academic, college-prep curriculum as well as for kids that are in a laid back homeschool environment.

I have viewed SO many notes regarding “getting it all done” that I just desire to put in a plug for mom having prayer and quiet time. I discovered that when I was consistent with those things I could “get it all done” and when I wasn’t consistent with those things I got discouraged. Either I was expecting too much, or was frustrated too easily. When I spent time with God, then things went much more effortlessly in our homeschooling.

What do you think?

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13 Comments »

  1. Kathy Wright says:

    I have multiple testimonies of my own of praying about the difficulty of an assignment that I didn’t think my daughter could handle, and so I’d let it go…..then two months or so down the road there she’d be, on her own with no prompting, doing a similar project for her own enjoyment. With prayer, the Lord sees to it that they get what they need. That’s my experience so far.

    September 22nd, 2011 at 6:49 am

  2. jodi says:

    i agree. but what do you do when your high schooler(s) lacks the motivation to self-teach (required subjects that they chose this summer) and your circumstances dictate that you can’t be around to be checking up on them? we have graduated 2, have 2 in high school (senior boy is non-motivated, sophomore girl is very motivated and doing well except in french), then there’s 1 in jr. high and 2 in elementary. i’m the primary caregiver for my elderly in-laws (@4 appts/wk) am recovering from surgery and require physical therapy 2/wk myself and am primary counsel for a 19yo girl living with us just kicked out of the foster care system trying to get her 3yo daughter out of the system, so attending all her court dates and driving to her physical and final orthodontist appts. (and i work 10-15 hours/week outside the home).

    it is so discouraging that what started well (them knowing what was expected and getting it all done without my hand holding) has turned into getting behind and doing nothing when i’m not home.

    September 22nd, 2011 at 1:31 pm

  3. Lee says:

    Jodi, this article may be some encouragement: “What If? Homeschool High School Without Fear” http://www.thehomescholar.com/what-if-homeschool-high-school-without-fear.php and this one may help with your senior: “Senior Year Homeschool and Way Behind!”
    http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/senior-year-homeschool-and-way-behind/1924/
    Blessings,
    Lee

    September 22nd, 2011 at 1:39 pm

  4. J W says:

    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

    Raise your hand if you’ve ever studied all week for a test on Friday and forgot it all on Saturday.

    September 22nd, 2011 at 5:50 pm

  5. Lee says:

    < <>>
    That would be me, JW :)
    Blessings,
    Lee

    September 22nd, 2011 at 7:17 pm

  6. Patricia says:

    Lee, you’re exactly right, let your kids learn at their ability level, provide some guidance, and then step back so they have room to soar. I have noted from birth that my children can’t help but learn…in spite of me! :-) Our most laid back subjects are history and geography, and my 13 yr old son scored at a post high school level in both on his first standardized test. Made me realize that my role in his life is shifting from “mommy” to “mentor.”

    November 19th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

  7. Lee says:

    Pat, I love how you say That’s awesome!
    Blessings,
    Lee

    November 21st, 2011 at 8:21 am

  8. Tijuanna says:

    Thank you for this encouraging article. As a mom to 6 (the oldest is an 8th grader completing 3 high school classes), I needed some help in remembering that I don’t have to “know it all” for my child to succeed. My husband and I were discussing last night if we should send our 8th grader to Christian high school next year. Thanks for the reminder that quality education still begins at home ;-)

    December 6th, 2011 at 8:46 am

  9. Jenna says:

    Thanks for your encouraging honesty. As a homeschooling mother of eight, my older students, by necessity, had to learn things on their own. It seems to have given them a boost of feeling self-sufficient. I am often amazed by things they know, and I ask, “Where did you learn that?” When they tell me they learned it from their textbook, I feel guilty because I think I should have known. Maybe instead of guilt, I can feel thankful and blessed.

    October 26th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

  10. Lisa says:

    My daughter (14) just wants to draw all the time. Constantly prod her to do school.Feel like giving up.

    November 18th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

  11. Lee says:

    Lisa,
    This article may help – it’s about how annoyance can point out some good stuff; http://www.thehomescholar.com/use-your-annoy-o-meter-skillfully.php.
    Blessings,
    Lee

    November 19th, 2012 at 10:48 am

  12. Julie says:

    Hey Lee… Great article! I totally agree. I had to teach my son the binary system the other day and I taught myself. I told him I didn’t know how to do it and so we learned it together…. That is the best way to learn something. As an adult I’m teaching myself things all the time. Just for an example, how did your son teach himself math? Was the explanation in his curriculum? Or did he research it? And, at what age did you feel it was ok to step down from primary teacher to letting them take over? High School?

    December 23rd, 2013 at 5:10 am

  13. Lee says:

    Julie,
    They taught themselves math using video tutorials. They would watch the video to learn the concepts, then practice with problems in the math book. You can see this here: http://www.thehomescholar.com/high-school-math-at-home.php. They taught themselves through high school, until calculus, and then went directly into college, both getting 4.0 in college calculus, so I know it worked.
    Blessings,
    Lee

    December 23rd, 2013 at 7:38 am

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