Live life with your kids has become a motto in my thinking for discipleship. It means that the everyday activities of family life become as much a part of our discipleship as any lessons we plan. It means that our kids learn from real life experiences. It means that we invite our kids into our world, and we take the time to enter their world as well.
Early on in my homeschool journey when I started to re-evaluate the way I was doing things, and what I believed about teaching and training my kids I had to tell myself that these experiences and life lessons were real learning, that it was valid and that it was important, as important as the curriculum I had carefully chosen.
There have been a few ways I have learnt to appreciate our family lifestyle in terms of education:
- To list the things that Peter and I are good at, passionate about or involved in and to list ways the kids can be involved and what they would learn or practice by doing so.
- To take note of the everyday activities and to think and record what the kids are learning or practicing by being involved.
- Be familiar with the different fields of learning that are used in schools and the skills and content the kids are expected to learn. For example: the arts, English, Health & Physical education, Math, Science, Society & Environment, Technology & Enterprise
As I intentionally thought about and recorded these things consistently for about 2 years seeing the significance in our activities started to become natural and my anxiety slipped away.
I remember being under a fair bit of pressure to create an activity that would teach my kids to work as a team in production line. The curriculum framework provided by the government suggested we make masks. I didn’t want to make masks but thought I’d give it a go just to learn this lesson. It shouldn’t be too hard, but because I didn’t really want to do it I kept procrastinating and ignoring the materials I had purchased. Then one day it was raining and we had been grocery shopping and in order to reduce how much mud my kids brought inside they organised themselves in a production line getting the groceries from the car to the pantry. As I watched them the light went on – we no longer needed to make masks (yay!!) because the kids obviously understood that concept. Real life was far more worthwhile than a prescribed activity out of the blue.
The main concern with using everyday life to teach our kids is that it is easy to become careless and lose our intentionality. With freedom comes much responsibility. We have to be intentional, know what our lifestyle offers our kids and then make the most of that. We cannot just hope for the best.
We may well have seasons where whatever happens – happens, but don’t let that be the norm. Be intentional. Have a good look at what goes on in your family life – what will help your children grow? Identify and then make sure your children are being instructed and encouraged in those things, make sure that they are growing in skills and knowledge.
Our family life will offer unique things to our children – don’t be so overwhelmed by curriculum choices you miss these wonderful opportunities and yet don’t be so liberated you forget to be intentional with your day to day living.