Creating Learning Opportunities, not Recreating School Subjects

Creating learning opportunities, and not recreating school subjects is a goal for our homeschool kids.

I’ll share a typical day in our homeschool world so you can get an idea of what I mean when I saw we should be creating learning opportunities.

I share a time in our homeschool story when I had six, ten, twelve, and fourteen-year-old children. At this point, my six-year-old had this kind of education in the project season of our homeschool. At this point, my ten-year-old had this kind of education in the project season of our homeschool.

I’ll discuss Enneagram and Myers Briggs and how they can help us understand our children, our children’s learning, and how our family connects (or doesn’t connect) because of who we are.

What is an enneagram anyway?

I share about the seasons of our homeschool and why we shifted different homeschool philosophies throughout our thirteen years.

Create learning opportunities, not recreate school subjects

I am confident that as kids gain self-knowledge, they’ll gain self-teaching. We’ve got to get kids independent time right away, because that’s the fastest way they can get self-knowledge.

John Taylor-Gatto

Which of the following are educational activities and which are entertainment?

  • Are you familiar with Minecraft and Lego? Are they games and toys, or are they skill-building activities?
  • Are the following books entertainment or educational? To Kill A Mockingbird? War and Peace? Diary of a Wimpy Kid? The Kite Runner? Owl magazine?
  • When you take a child past a pond and she tries to lift every leaf and every rock in search of living snails, to discover where a snail chooses to live, is that entertainment or education?
  • If he sits in a classroom with a teacher giving a lecture on polynomials, is that learning?
  • If he sits in front of an online learning class discussing Krebb’s cycle, is that learning?
  • What about watching a YouTube video on how to choose marine animals for his fish tank, is that educational?
  • Is it educational if a child learns how to count coins when she’s trying to sell you a plastic cupcake for .75 cents in her pink plastic kitchen?
  • Is it educational to take a food safety course to prep for a job at a local bakery?  

Look for the learning opportunities. Learn to deschool your homeschool.

Look for learning opportunities.

1. Acknowledge and follow their learning interests.

Our oldest daughter compelled us to follow these interests:

British history. May have started with Usborne books and transitioned into historical fiction. She read a lot of historical fiction. She wasn’t interested in being taught; she wasn’t interested in being told what to do (still isn’t). We stayed up in the night to watch Kate and Will’s wedding, when we’ve done traveling around the world, she’s been the most interested in museums and art galleries. She wasn’t all that interested when we studied Latin at home, but now she’s taken a couple of semesters of Latin in her first university year and focusing on ancient Roman and Greek civilizations.

Our second daughter followed these interests:

Since she was two, she was curious about zoology, from undersea sticker books to aquarium visits to ocean visits around the world, we followed her interest.

Quickly into homeschooling, we learned that we were enabling our kids’ learning, so every question was on the table.

What if a pregnant woman’s uterus doesn’t clamp down and stop the bleeding after a woman has a baby? our ten-year-old asked her physician dad. We answered that.

We’ve answered a LOT of those questions throughout the years.

When we traveled to remote Africa twice, our entire family got to join their dad in the operating room as he anesthetized people, they got to join him in medical or pediatric rounds.

This is how you can create learning opportunities.

How do you create learning opportunities

2. If there’s a question, if there’s a curiosity, it can be pursued.

Are you wondering how to create writing, spelling, vocabulary-building, and speech-presenting opportunities? I’ve got a post discussing each of them.

Are you wondering how you can help your child read?

Are you wondering if you can do science labs at home? Our kids have done dozens with real microscopes, and real dissecting kits. Just months ago, I had a dissected toad and a dissected perch in my garbage. In the last month, we did bacterial cultures on six places around the house: note to self, the toilet is cleaner than the bathroom sink. Right now, I have painted butterfly larvae sitting in my kitchen pantry transforming them into chrysalids. (I love science.)

Are you wondering how to do history at home? Books and online resources, museums and so many people that can share their stories, and their wealth of knowledge. We’ve visited world war sites in Europe, but we can also access online museums around the world. We can create timelines and newspapers of a specific time period, create pretend interviews with historical characters, and create our very own podcasts on ancient Romans. The online resources right now are incredible.

Fine arts interests? I know I am. We’ve studied impressionism, violin and piano lessons, and classical music and music through the decades. We’ve visited art galleries and studied art in a book and attended art walks. The three oldest girls even participated in a gallery opening where they presented their own work.

There is a way to engage any and all topics.

3. Acknowledge and follow your interests.

What are you passionate about? Share it with them.

I’ve shared: home design and house building, permaculture, chicken keeping, gardening, business development, writing, fine art, classical and jazz music, and travel.

My husband has shared his love of Canadian and American politics, Broadway theatre, poker, chess, strategy games, how to give a good presentation, everything medicine, and all things presidential history.

You can include your interests in creating learning opportunities.

What can you share with your kids?

I introduce you to one of the homeschool greats: John Taylor-Gatto. Don’t miss my Homeschool Mama Reading List.

If you want to help your kids in creating learning opportunities, learn about learning by reading in your own homeschool mama reading list.

4. Trust that the way they like to learn is the right way to learn.

This influences your curriculum purchases, and frankly, is less expensive and makes your life easier.

Zach reads. And reads and reads and reads. Hannah, 19, is calling 11 yo Zach to consult on Ancient Roman history because he’s always reading. (He threw together a podcast episode just on ancient Romans, but since someone complimented him on it in real-time, he stopped doing it).

I would like to sit Zach down with a huge empty scrapbook and have him create a lap book or write articles pretending to interview Caligula or write compare and contrast essays. (I did that actually.)

But you know what he likes to do? Read. And talk about it. And watch videos on the topic.

5. How does your child learn?

  • What do I want them to learn?
  • To be independent thinkers?
  • To coexist in the world harmoniously, kindly, and responsibly?
  • To find the things they enjoy doing that bring them purpose and bring their communities value?
  • To find a way to make an income doing the things they enjoy?
Not one box out there will fit my homeschool family or even fit one of my kids.

And that’s why I know that there is no box out there that will fit yours either.

Our homeschool goal?

Not to find a comfy box, but rather, to create an education and an atmosphere conducive toward growth and expansion for our specific children.

How to do that?

There is no easy formula. There is no one-size-fits-all.

Which makes this whole homeschool thing highly individualized.

What gets in our way?
  • Often our preconceived notions about what we think we need in order to create that home education.
  • Often our preconceived notions about what an education is anyway.
  • And also others’ preconceived notions about education too.

So let’s unpack that all, get clear on what we really think, and determine how we want our homeschools to reflect our real homeschool kids.

Let’s deschool our homeschools & create learning opportunities in our homes.

Join the Deschool your Homeschool Class so you can create learning opportunities for your kids

People often ask…

Teresa Wiedrick

I help homeschool mamas shed what’s not working in their homeschool & life, so they can show up authentically, purposefully, and confidently in their homeschool & life.

Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod