Home Education; making them learn?

A few things have come up recently that leave me wondering about the narrow road we have to walk as home educators when it comes to the discipline in our home and the learning that goes on.

Both Charlotte Mason and Dr. Montessori had a gentle, but firm and consistent approach to discipline, that respected the child but recognised that human nature is fallen.  If education is going to lead a child out – it must offer  system for them to be able to “be out” and among other people. Respecting a child does not mean expecting them to have the same emotional and social maturity of an adult (of a properly formed adult). Part of the process of growing up and being educated is learning the virtues. Then in adulthood the skills in self discipline and self motivation should have been learned so that it won’t take someone else to push them all the time.

But there are fall off cliffs on either side of parenting. On the one side discipline can become bullying and aggressive and on the other side loving the child can become permissiveness and allowing them to do what they like and have what they want, which of course isn’t love.

I’ve spoken with more than one parent who believes that making a child do anything is bad for them. They should decide what they learn and when they learn it, they insist.

I just don’t see how that would work. It certainly wouldn’t work here. As things are now the children each have a learning box with most of their work books and stuff in there. Each learning day I set out the work first thing in the morning. Then the children come to do their work. They can do it in any order they like and take the time they need, but it must be all done. There is plenty of free time in and around the work, but no “privileges” until the day’s work is complete.

There are a number of aspects of the children’s learning that I am “in charge” of. Although we decide together, the children and I, what kind of learning we need to use, I choose and buy the stuff.

The children are part of a family. They can’t just do what they want when they want or have what they want when they want. Life isn’t like that. So, they learn to work and live within the confines of life. That’s not a bad thing really. Sometimes they have to do work they are not that interested in. Sometimes they find the work a bit of a struggle. But they do the work; they learn to ask for help when they need it and to be willing to stretch themselves a little to get to grips with something. (And stretch me a great deal at times!)

We learn together and there are times when they are well ahead of me in some areas.

I’ve decided, in light of how things are, and could be, that I need to plan ahead a bit with their work. This means I set out a minimum requirement for each learning day and try to plan it ahead. This should cover all, or most, eventualities. It does need to be flexible to cover stuff I haven’t thought of. But it also needs to be clear so that they can get on with whatever they need to do, regardless of what’s happening with me.

The knock-on effect is less spontaneity. But I think there’s still some space for that.  It’s a case of making things work for the children, no matter what life throws at us.

4 responses to “Home Education; making them learn?

  1. I, too, believe that children need to be led. They can be offered a certain amount of flexibility, but at the end of the day, they must still be accountable for their efforts (or lack of them on some days).

    I think the word is consistency – in training as well as in learning. As life happens as a lion sometimes, we can easily tend to divert from our plans. This can cause more harm then good at times. But as you note, we must try and do a bit of planning ahead so that we do not lose sight of the big picture while still allowing the children to progress regardless of what life is presently throwing our way.

    I am really consider using your learning box idea. I think that would streamline things a bit and give more independence – plus it would cut down the clutter!! 🙂


  2. I completely agree with you. I don’t see how it’s even possible to never make your child do something they don’t want to . . . seriously? so if they don’t want to buckle their seatbelt? or sit in a car seat? or do math – ever? lol. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve made one of my kids do something they didn’t want to . . . Sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job. Blessings 🙂

  3. Love this! I still remember this one parenting expert who was a guest on one of my favorite blogs who said that praising a child AT ALL is a form of “manipulation” and that if we wouldn’t want to be manipulated as adults, then to do so to our children would be just as degrading. She used the example of stickers for potty training. To put it gently – I don’t exactly subscribe to that theory, lol.

    I am very into child-led education. That said, I have a 12yo and though she is far from perfectly responsible 100% of the time, she is living proof to me that insisting on things my younger kids try every trick in the book to get out of, pays off. My view of child-led education is, for instance, setting them loose with craft supplies and not telling them what to make – just letting them do what they will. If my view of child-led education meant only letting them learn what they wanted to when they felt like it, my oldest daughter would literally never get off of facebook. 😛

    • I think “experts” often go off the deep end and seem to bypass good ol’common sense along the way.
      I do the same as you with craft and art work. In fact I add it in with some of their other work so they can (and do) doodle a lot on their worksheet type work. I used to find that helped me in learning so I’ve encouraged it. I know many a school teacher would be horrified if she saw what my kids did!

      But as you say there’s a dfference between child-led and child-expressed education and just letting them do whatever they want whenever they want.

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