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TO THE POINT: Let them experiment
September 25, 2017
Let them experiment
Being a homeschooling family is an adventure for children, but more so for me as the mom, specifically in the myriads of decisions to be made. And like an adventure that is not always sunshine and laughter, there are also scary, unsure moments when you are not 100% sure of what you are doing; those moments of trying to do what you know to do, and to make the best decisions you can with the available information at hand. You research, ask questions, have a chat with somebody and check facts, but in the end you still have to make those decisions yourself. And often those decisions seem much harder because it is in unknown territory on a road you have not travelled before.
But that is the first lesson I had to learn as a home educating mom: To NOT be afraid to experiment...whether with approaches, curriculum, different activities, books and resources. In experimenting with things, I developed confidence through seeing that sometimes things work, and sometimes they don’t, and that is okay! So you don’t have to be afraid of making decisions....as they are only small steps on a journey, and you can adjust the course of the journey as you learn along the way. Making a decision is just taking the next step with the available information you have at hand, even though that step may not be so clear.
Also let your children learn to make decisions by experimenting. Allow them to take risks, do things (even sometimes unwise in your opinion), try out things, explore and learn on the way. They will also develop confidence and learn with practice. Guide them, coach them, even give some advice, but let them try.
For me the ability to make decisions for yourself is directly related to taking responsibility. As one grows in taking responsibility in any area of your life, you are allowed more decision-making freedom. As homeschool parents we take responsibility for educating our own children, but the ultimate goal is to help our children take responsibility for their own education. This happens over time as you allow them to experiment, and guide them along the way.
I believe that how we model and demonstrate decision-making is a skill imparted to our children. The ability to make decisions (especially those scary, unsure and difficult ones) is so important, especially when those ‘what-to-do-after-school’ years loom ahead. This phase can be especially stressful (for both them and you!) as there are many uncertainties, things don’t make a lot of sense, not all of their friends are doing the same thing....and it is not a clear ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision.
The adventure of making decision for themselves is not limited to the high school years. From when children are young, they can be trained to make decisions, and not be afraid to make those decisions themselves. The decisions younger children make are not critical yet, so let them practice it often then. Help them understand that sometimes there is more than one option, sometimes there is risk involved, sometimes others are affected by your decision, some decisions are harder to make than others....but let them learn! Making decisions is a skill to learn. It takes practice to become better at it.
PS: the photo is one of my boys wanting to fly in a strong wind blowing at Port Elizabeth (during our 2 year journey through South Africa...see the Travel blog here.); he stretched out his jacket so he could actually lean completely into the wind without falling...
I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
(Edward Everett Hale)
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