How do you light the fire of learning?

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I never thought I’d homeschool my kids. I had played “school” before I had even stepped my five-year-old foot into my kindergarten classroom. I loved the new pencils and fresh, clean notebooks, the smell of the library and being read to. As a matter of fact, I still get a little giddy when I buy “school supplies” every fall.

My love of school led me to become a teacher. And I think I can say I was a fairly good teacher. I did my best to tune into the needs of each of my students and find creative, engaging ways to meet those needs. Teaching was a natural extension of who I am. It was me, my true self.

Then we had our first child and he kept growing and people kept saying, “You must be so excited. He’ll start school next year.” Suddenly, I was looking at the classroom from a whole new perspective. Not just my own as a teacher, but as a parent and as a child. I knew, from experience, that even the very best teachers cannot meet the needs of every student. Some students will be bored, some may get lost in the shuffle of assignments and books. I knew I wanted something different for my children.

And so we decided to give homeschooling a try. It has not always been an easy road. Every so often I contemplate putting them all of the bus in the morning. It has taught me that it isn’t school that I love. It’s learning. More than being a teacher, I am a learner, and a facilitator of learning.

Over the course of the last 12 years, we have tried on many, many homeschooling styles, and I have read countless books about educational philosophy. In the beginning, I was trying to figure out how to homeschool the right way. Eventually it dawned on me that there are many right ways. And what works for our family today may not tomorrow, and that’s ok. What is important is that I look at the children in front of me. That I put aside labels of what kind of homeschoolers we are. That I really be true to who we are.

And who are we? We’re relaxed, child-directed, mama-nudged, eclectic, book-loving, curiosity-driven, passionate learners. Sure, I still worry if I am preparing my children well enough for their futures, but guess what?! I can’t read the future. I don’t know what paths they will choose. But I do know that the choices I make today that allow them space to grow and learn are laying the foundation for whatever lies ahead. Modeling my own passion for learning and the joy of learning for learning’s sake, my children see what education is truly about. There is no way I could ever teach them all there is to know, but isn’t that the beauty of it all? Knowing that there is always something else to learn. Finding new ways to connect with the world and those around us. That, my friends, is the whole point. Because whatever educational path we choose for our children or ourselves, it means nothing unless it sets us on fire.

I love hearing from other parents about the ways in which they light the fire of learning.  What does it look like in your home?