I want to encourage you today in 5 days of Homeschooling Mid-Year and Thriving. Day 5 Raising Independent Learners because our homeschool journey is not always free of worry.
Through the years, we realize that time with our children is fleeting. During the early years, we have the power to either teach them self-sufficiency or expose them to being vulnerable.
Fixating on curriculum choices is normal also because our desire to give our children a superior education is important to us. Raising independent learners is not just about browsing curriculum choices even though I couldn’t have been convinced otherwise when I first started my adventure.
Keeping a clean house, managing our finances and the needs of my small children consumed my day when they were younger. Many times I felt like I was behind in using that new captivating curriculum in my schoolroom. Everyday tasks left me with the idea that I was not teaching anything.
What I didn’t expect now is that I would treasure the experience of raising independent learners through everyday living. Chores and task that seemed mundane at the time have now turned into a daily exercise of having a personal resolve for whatever Mr. Senior 2013 sets out to do.
Sure, it’s a work in progress with all of my sons, even with Mr. Senior 2013. But, the time spent with him is the most precious gift I could give him.
There are different tips for each age and maybe some of these, I hope, will comfort you.
- Start a routine of chores when they are very young. Preschool and earlier is not too young to start. It could be something as easy as taking their socks to their room. At this age, it is all about age appropriate chores. If children can’t learn from the beginning to value a toy, their article of clothing or anything else in their room, then they will place little value on what you tell them as they grow older. Respect begins here.
- Routine is the security blanket of good behavior. Many times in my workshop I share that everybody has some degree of organization though they may not think so. True, it may need to be fine tuned so that it becomes a routine instead of haphazardly responding to each day, but routine means forward progress. It is not easy to break bad habits but your desire to want something better for your children will show them what you value in your life. In turn children feel secure because naturally they desire boundaries and limitations. Creating routine in everyday life turns into good habits they practice as they grow older.
- Children need to make decisions so you can determine if they are applying the values you have taught. Spending time with your children now more than ever before is important, but it is not easy a lot of times. Children do not always think they need our guidance. As children grow older we tend to think they need us less. This is true when it comes to them caring for their personal needs now, but couldn’t be further from the truth as their hormones rage. Normal hormones indicate that they are trying to make some adult like decisions. Allowing them to make as many decisions as possible that do not conflict with your values helps them to appreciate the freedom that comes with adulthood. Teaching independence comes from them making decisions such as what order of school subjects they do for the day, where they choose to study and even how much they want to cover in each subject.
- Clear cut consequences a must while resisting the urge to partake in a battle of the wills. Hormones raging for both mom and child can be a lethal combination. The difference is that most children don’t realize what is going on and it’s not easy for us either. However, being a homeschooling parent means parenting even when we do not feel at our best. It seems that our pre-teens and teens just have a knack for knowing we are not at our peak performance. I find that having clear cut boundaries keeps any comments or actions from escalating into a full blown battle of the wills. I may not feel good then but when I am feeling better that is the time to enforce consequences. Reminding my sons of consequences teaches them to think before they have knee-jerk responses. Don’t be too critical of them though because hormones are real and it is not something we “get over” but deal with each day in love even as adults.
- Highschool is preparation for life. Focusing on just the academic portion is normal, but you learn too that highschool is the time to prepare for adult hood. Of all the times that Mr. Senior 2013 needed me, I realize he needs me the most here and now. No, he doesn’t act like that each day but many times he needs a sounding board for what he determines that needs to be done next as he graduates. Young adults now find that sweet maturity may not always be so sweet, it can also be bitter. It is a bitter sweet conclusion for them as they determine whether they are driving, working a job and possibly already doing college that adult life is sweet, but making wrong decisions can be bitter. You do not have to make decisions alone in highschool and this is comforting. If you have done your job well training their strength of character when they are younger, you will have a pre-adult who may have sound opinions and a method for reaching the same goals.
- Raising independent dependents. Lately, I use this term a lot because I think it describes the age of highschool. They want independence but realize that we are not all truly independent even as adults. This is still a time of testing boundaries because your children may feel they know a lot of things better than you do. They may or may not. Whatever the case, if they are not taught to respect you and your guidelines they will not respect others, their future spouse, school mates or work mates. Respect is earned inside your home. This means I give respect to my sons too. Raising their voice, exercising argument muscles and flexing their adult voices are part of learning to be an adult. You are the only one to determine when the boundary line has been crossed. We can’t expect to raise independent learners then at the first sign they are trying to be independent, we shoot them down so to speak. Modeling adult behavior begins with you. Their job is to finish the goals you have set down for them and if they can’t do that and work at a job, volunteer, work out at the gym or spend time doing their hobby they are so fond of, then this is the time to teach them how to prioritize as an adult.
Teaching our children to be resilient today is a necessity to survival. It is our job to shield, protect and care for our children as they are young and tender but as they grow older and their decision making ability grows, we need to give up control without giving up our God given authority.
They still need our guidance even as young adults.
Failure is best learned at home when there is not much riding on the decision. When they are on their own, or are making decisions for a family as a head of household then consequences of wrong decisions are more costly.
Either resisting or fulfilling the responsibilities of adult life are qualities that are fortified when they are very young.
It is hard to even comprehend the value of what seems like wasted days when our children argue with us about chores and manners, but your children will praise you when you have taught them to stand on their own two feet.
Hugs and love ya,
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