Creating an Atmosphere that Thrives
And you shall teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, an when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
“Education is an Atmosphere”-Charlotte Mason
Something very distinctive to homeschool moms, maybe dads too, is the need to make sure we are doing everything right. We ask such questions as: Have we given them the best math curriculum? Are we using the most effective spelling program? What about grammar? (Are you kidding? Grammar!) Have you ever caught yourself saying this: “I didn’t learn that in school!”
I’d like to submit five principles that can help you to create this atmosphere in your home. Let me warn you, though, they take work. (Which you already know homeschooling requires.) The change may not happen overnight. In fact, is there anything of value that does come easy or quickly? It may require you to put more effort in what you are already doing, but I believe it will be successful. The principles set a pattern, a road map, if you will, which help us help our students to learn and learn well.
- Be a student, teach them how to learn by always being willing to learn yourself.
- Get wisdom, Proverbs tells us it is the principle thing.
- Know your teaching style, which in turn helps you understand their learning style.
- Meet them where they are, let them have the grace to be themselves.
- Encourage (even plan for) their successes.
The Word of God reminds us how to teach our children in Deuteronomy 6:7, “And thou shall teach them diligently, when you sit, when you walk, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” First and foremost, His Word truly needs to be the foundation on which our homeschool is built. Psalm 127:1 tells us, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” By putting Him and His Word first we prepare the foundation and set the atmosphere. Mathew 6:33 reminds us to seek God first in all things.
Principle #1: Be a Student yourself!
Teaching our children doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. If we can look into the principles through which we learn and process things, then we can also incorporate them into our teaching methods. When we love learning ourselves, we promote an atmosphere of learning which is contagious to our children. I have always believed that a good teacher, someone who loves what they are teaching, can teach the most boring or difficult concepts to their students. We truly need to set the stage for a lifetime of learning which will help our children truly excel in life. We can set the stage for a lifetime of learning and see one more brick added to the foundation which propels our children forward in excellence.
Principle #2: Get wisdom and understanding!
A lifetime of learning is exemplified in the heart of everyone who never stops getting wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 tells us, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” True wisdom and knowledge starts in the heart of God, in the daily reading of His Word and depositing that in our hearts. His wisdom outlasts that of worldly value.
How do you get wisdom?
Become a student yourself. Get to know the way you take in and process information and that will help you to understand both the modes and methods in which their young minds are working as well. Learn to identify your teaching style, what makes sense to you and apply that to the way you teach in your home. Show your children the joy of digging for fine treasures of unlimited beauty as you teach them to love learning. This may be a new concept for you, perhaps school was not easy for you or you just feel a little in over your head. I was encouraged to take one subject at a time and incorporate that into our day. I am not suggesting you give up what you do, but rather take the time to enjoy what they are learning with them. Begin to learn the tools of “how to learn”, the process by which we all can learn and you will see those light bulb moments happen more often for your children.
Principle #3: Know your Teaching Style
Your teaching style is specifically the way you are able to both process and relate information. Do you know how you learn? Do you know how you take in information? What is the easiest way you communicate ( ie: speaking, writing, etc.)? There are many books on identifying your child’s learning style available, but I challenge you to get to know your teaching style and implement that in your daily routine. For instance, I am a consummate fan of Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching and learning with her students. It was natural, yet challenging. She lived the example of believing any child could learn and successfully promoted an atmosphere of learning in every subject she taught.
Living books simply thrill my heart, but it is the depth a good book can provide which opens the door to real and consistent learning. Not to mention it is a great way to have real fun with your kids. At what other time do you assume the personality of someone else and perform a story for your children, except when reading an awesome book? In our home, we try to make reading aloud a priority. It is simply something that everyone loves. We spend time reading through books of character, purpose, and depth. Charlotte called them living books, books that were not twaddle or lacking of necessary content. Living books, books in general, have become the cornerstone in our home and by far the bulk of my curriculum. Here is the point I am trying to make, when I am excited about something, they become excited about it as well. When I present a desire to learn, it gives them the open door to choose to learn also.
Principle #4: Meet them where they are~
While utilizing the living books across our curriculum, I have made an effort to meet their own learning style needs as well. For instance, by giving them something to do while we are reading, because busy hands allow for attentive bodies and minds, I try to provide maps, drawing paper, worksheets, etc. that will enhance what we are learning and this effortlessly extends the learning process even more. Not only are they working on something that is tactile and will produce a great result, they are keeping their hands busy so their ears and minds are listening. Specifically, we have implemented notebooking into much of our curriculum because in the process of our reading (my love), they translate what they are learning into something of meaning to them (their love). Learning, when it is effortless, creates a beautiful symphony in the atmosphere of home centered education correlating the joy of exploration and the essence of thriving minds.
Principle #5: Encourage (even plan for) their successes!
Give your children a chance to be successful, and you will see a homeschool that thrives. Push your children to excellence because it brings glory to God, but do not set them up for failure. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us that whatever we do, we must do it all for the glory of God. Encourage them to work as the scripture admonishes to do everything as being done unto the Lord. Provide opportunities, actually plan for them, where your brilliant scholar will have that “aha” moment. I want to hear, “Well Done” when I work hard, and I need to remember to pour that encouragement into my children. What you put in, you will see poured back out. Proverbs says, “Out of the treasures of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Speak to them from the treasure trove of the love God has enabled within your heart for your child.
What do I mean by the phrase, actually plan for their successes? For example, allow your student to become acquainted with a subject and then move on, not expecting perfection the first time. When they come back to this topic again, there is measurably less stress for them to be able to grasp and understand the dynamics of the material, mostly because they have already been introduced it… they are acquainted with it. Learning becomes natural and they are not struggling to grasp concepts and ideas that are foreign to them. I have seen this work for young children, those who struggle, advanced and older children equally, this is a universal concept where success is hidden and flourishes.
(continue to Part 3 – Equipping Parents to Teach)