I’m so excited to have Heidi Cooper as a guest blogger today. She is a homeschooler and the author of “It’s OK to Hide in the Bathroom” and other books on practical wisdom for us moms in raising our children in a biblical way.
She runs the website Torah Family Living where she has lots of encouragement and practical ideas to incorporate Scripture, especially the Torah, into your homeschooling and daily life. She is a member of AliYah Academy and a friend.
I hope you enjoy her article on her Family Style of Learning as much as I do.
Family Style Learning
My father-in-law used to say, “The day you stop learning is the day you die.” This is so true for everyone, but especially for a homeschool family.
I was homeschooled in high school, and my husband and I are now homeschooling seven children ranging from preschool to eleventh grade. Learning together as a family has become second nature.
I'd love to share some of our tactics in hopes that you can feel more comfortable with family style learning.
1. Be Together
The first step in mastering family style learning is valuing your home life. Your home should be the central hub of your lifestyle, not just a resting place at the end of the day. Your home should be a welcoming, comfortable haven where your family actually wants to be. Part of this atmosphere is the physical condition of your home. While you certainly don't need a magazine showroom, it does help to keep your home tidy and organized. Many families find this goal easier to achieve after getting rid of extra belongings. You can't create a mountain of laundry or dishes if you don't own a mountain of laundry or dishes. Life changing!
I feel, though, that the emotional atmosphere is paramount. Does everyone feel safe just being themselves? Can your children confidently come to you with problems? Do you laugh and have fun together? Are lots of hugs passed around each day? These all contribute to a home that your family will want to be in most of the time.
I would encourage you to also keep your children together for at least some of their lessons. My children work independently for most of their subjects, but we watch educational shows together, read Bible together, etc. Combine where you can, and allow your children to learn together. You can also pair an older child with a younger child. This morning, my eleven-year-old helped my four-year-old with his ABC and numbers flashcards.
2. Embrace Uniqueness
We are so unique as moms, and our children are so different from each other. We can capitalize on this, and when we do it right, learning can go through the roof.
One of my teenage daughters is currently obsessed with Japan. With some creativity, we were able to build on that theme in history, art, foreign language, and more. I don't have to hound her to do those subjects! It also helps to make up for the non-negotiable subjects like math that she doesn't particularly enjoy. Look for your children's interests and incorporate them into their studies where you can. This can be as simple as book selections, writing assignments, and documentaries, or as involved as field trips. I don't, however, envision a trip to Japan anytime soon lol.
Be forgiving of your mom personality as well. We are all so very different that there is no use in comparing ourselves to other homeschool moms.
3. Teach From Overflow
Many years ago, a mentor of mine taught me an important lesson – teach from your overflow. At the time, I was teaching Sunday school and Bible clubs, but this insight has been invaluable as a homeschool mom.
What does this mean? It means that, as the teacher of your homeschool, you keep on learning and filling your own knowledge tank. Continue to read good books. Talk to other families to learn new ways to handle things. Listen to podcasts. Watch a cooking show. Pursue your own interests. Maintain a hobby, such as knitting or bird watching.
Most importantly, fill your spiritual tank by spending time in your Bible every day. I also try to read Biblical articles so that I can share what I have learned with my family during our Bible study times.
4. Build Your Foundation on Scripture
This is perhaps the most important step in embracing family style learning. Your home must be built on a solid foundation in order to thrive. So
me families are able to coordinate a Bible study time every day, which is wonderful. Our family doesn't manage an organized time every day, but we do set aside time every Shabbat afternoon to read the Bible and discuss how it applies to us.
If you are not able to read and study the Bible together every day as a family, there are other ways to incorporate the Bible into your home life.
Assign Bible reading as part of your children's schoolwork.
Use Scripture copywork to instill Biblical principles in your children's lives. Don't forget that Scripture copywork is great for moms and dads, too!
Memorize passages together as a family, for example, learn the 10 commandments together while celebrating the feast of Shavuot.
Post Scripture around your home, and use Scripture in everyday conversation, so your children understand that Biblical principles apply to everyday living.
As you make the Bible accessible and relevant to your family, they will develop the skill of understanding the principles behind commands. It all boils down to loving God and loving our neighbor. These are the principles that we want our children, and ourselves, to be living out. This is perhaps the main reason many of us have chosen to homeschool in the first place. We want to not only learn academically as a family, but grow spiritually as a family as well.
I have put together several resources to help you learn together as a family at my website, www.torahfamilyliving.com. I have Scripture copywork books, parenting books, and a children's book of the Torah portions. You are cordially invited to take a look and see if anything will be helpful to your family.
In what ways have you incorporated a family style of learning in your home?