So most of us starting out on this homeschooling journey were not homeschooled ourselves. We were trained to thrive in the system, to do our best inside the confines of school. It worked fine for many of us, but not so well for all of us. And now as we look at alternatives to the public school, we start to consider what exactly does my child need to know, learn and do?
This is a question that I will be covering in future posts, but for now, I want to focus on the single most important thing for your child to develop before he/she leaves your home.
Can you guess what it is?
If you said Character- you are right!!
I believe that the single most important things for your child to develop in your homeschool and in your family is a strong and good character.
First of all, a smart, well educated person can still be a jerk and a criminal. Putting academics above everything else is a mistake. A person who is not so well educated academically, but who is kind and personable will probably have a much better and happier life than the educated, “smart” criminal.
So the foundation and most important part of any education program for just about any child should be to raise a responsible, kind, disciplined, happy and fulfilled adult. In other words, character should come first. Character development is way more important than anything else.
A person with a solid character will be disciplined, curious, interesting, humble, kind, resilient and responsible. Responsible, disciplined people tend to be able to learn and do whatever it takes to reach their goals. Learning academic subjects can happen at any time in our lives, especially if we were taught to read and write, which is not hard to do. Plenty of adults choose to enroll in various personal, academic and business advancement programs throughout life.
Developing a good character is much harder to do if one has to unlearn poor habits and overcome character flaws in order to move forward. It can be done, but it is so much harder as an adult. Many character flaws picked up in childhood are never rectified for many people. It’s certainly not impossible, just really tough.
It’s Not Either/ Or
That’s not to say that you will have to choose between the two. My hope is that we will be able to produce wise, intelligent, well read and educated adults who also have a strong personal character through homeschooling or other forms of education. Indeed the discipline required to achieve high academic success often contributes to the good character we are aiming for. It all goes together!
But it is important especially in our society to point out that character needs to come first. For example, there are too many people in our society who encourage their children to cheat for higher scores and better opportunities. But that is clearly a disservice not only to their children who miss the importance of honesty and integrity, but also to our society, for obvious reasons.
Will it slow your child down?
So in homeschooling, it may feel like your kids are behind. Your kids may think they are behind. But you as the parent has to remember that this a long game! So many parents are fixated on whether their 3 yr. old can read and do addition, they are missing so many other important developmental milestones. The important developmental milestones are things that are unseen and not easily measured.
Do they feel secure? Are they curious about the world around them? Do they know how to share? How do they deal with failure? Are they learning to be patient? etc. etc. etc.
There is so much to learn as a child. These kids are literally pretty much blank slates. They come with personalities and gifts and strengths, but so many things have to be learned!! How gravity works, how to talk, how to eat, how to walk, how to get along, how to behave, etc. We really need to not take these things for granted. No wonder toddlers have to sleep so much- they are learning a ton!! But we can’t always see it.
And beyond the sheer of amount of learning that occurs during babyhood, toddlerhood, and childhood, is the fact that we are all individuals and we are going to learn at different rates and at different times. Boys generally tend to have a easier time with math and science, girls generally tend to be better at language arts and fine motor skills. Some kids are ready to read at age 3, while others won’t be ready until age 9! Does that mean the slower reader is “dumb”? Absolutely not- Thomas Edison’s mother was told her son was behind and would not amount to much. There are so many stories like that. Let the kids develop at their own pace and find their own genius!
A lot of what kids learn, we take for granted. We think that a lot of it is just already known when, in fact, the child has been taking in information and has been processing it! We don’t realize how much they have been learning!! Anyway, learning more about the brain and what happens at each stage of development is very helpful in raising kids, not to mention how fascinating it is! We as parents have a huge responsibility in teaching and passing things on to our children!!
But the main thing is to not feel like you or your child is behind. We all have different hands dealt to us. We all have different interests, different strengths and weaknesses. Shore up the weaknesses and capitalize on the strengths!
Opportunities for Growth
Of course, we as parents are only human and only as good as we are. Everyone has faults and weaknesses. So in figuring out what we want for our kids and how to help them develop a strong character, we will have an opportunity to think about the example we set for them and about our own character. We will have the the opportunity to find ways we can improve and model for our kids the kind of character we hope to develop in them. Being a parent is a magnificent journey. And if you thought you were perfect and had it all figured out, believe me, your child will give you growing opportunities!! It is truly marvelous, really!!
So in researching homeschooling and curriculums and philosophies of education, I hope you will keep in mind that the most important thing you will give your child is a good, strong character!
I will talk more in future posts about what that entails and some ways to develop that character. I’ll also talk more about curriculum and day to day homeschooling. But for now, I hope you will keep this idea in mind as you go about your journey. Look for ways to help your child grow, break out of their comfort zone, strengthen their resiliency and their goodness.
Until next time!