My son Ammon and his friends Sam and Ben
Does that term give you the same thrill it does me? I am happy to be raising “school-free learners”. That’s what we do: learn without school. And what a more successful, love-to-learn environment we have because of that choice!
What does school have going for it? I think most homeschooling moms have given that topic pondering time. Over the years of raising my children, we’ve tried a lot of learning environments: charter schools, public schools, K-12, and more. Those experiences have convinced me that for at least the first 12 years of a child’s life, schools can provide little that we cannot joyfully discover and learn in our own homeschool. Joyful learning is important. When learning is fun, it sticks.
When children express a desire to go to school outside the home, what are they wanting? Pretty much, kids all want the very same thing: friends. Adults think school is about education. Kids think school is about friends.
As I see it, the formula for happy homeschooling is part education and part social—and education is the easy part! In this day of internet access, color photography, distance learning, online lessons, state-of-the-art books, educational videos and unlimited information; learning is accessible everywhere and all you need is some dedicated time to learn anything you want. A teacher, textbooks and a classroom is not so vital anymore. A parent who models how to find information, how to evaluate what is found, how to seek out mentors, and how to enjoy learning is a very important person!
More than ever, the second part of the formula—the social part—is increasingly important. If you want your children to grow up as decent people, good citizens, and faithful Christians in an ever-darkening world, the social aspect is crucial. Children need to have friends that they can share their lives, values, joys and sorrows with. Those friends needs to eventually include the opposite sex, so that they have possibilities and opportunities that create hope that they can marry someone wonderful and have a family someday too.
As the world seems to be sliding into moral oblivion, our parental responsibility is not only to teach our children to upright, but it is to help keep them from feeling alone. It is to dispel the mistaken notion that they are the only ones—geeks, oddballs, nerds—intelligent but socially unable to find others like themselves. It may get harder to relate to others in their world—as Christian values lose popularity—so the need is even greater that they find camaraderie and the comfort of friends beyond the family circle. I put a lot of my homeschool effort into my support group, providing that friendship connection for my kids. I think it is imperative.
“School-free learners”. Unlimited joyful learning. Fine friendships. Can it get any better for children than this?