Kitchen Table Curriculum What exactly is the appeal of educating the little ones at the kitchen table?
With the beginning of the new school year now upon us, most parents can rest assured that their children—in spite of mismatched socks and tousled hair—will be out of the house for at least six hours, soaking in a provincially-approved curriculum.
Not so for home-schoolers. For them, the kids are home to stay. So what exactly is the appeal of educating the little ones at the kitchen table?
While there are definitely benefits to sending your children to school, some parents prefer the opportunity to teach themselves.
"School comes from the Latin word schola, which means leisure devoted to learning," says Kenneth Noster, home-educating father and director of Wisdom Home Schooling in Derwent, Alberta. Academic and creative benefits of home-schooling are evident when students are allowed a degree of leisure in their schedule, flourishing best in situations where learning is not required but is allowed by virtue of the elimination of distractions and the presence of opportunities."
In other words, while the bonuses of home-schooling differ from those of public education, they do exist in the forms of creative opportunities, fewer distractions, and a more relaxed schedule.
In an age where children prefer to tune in to electronics and tune out their parents, is leisurely learning actually possible?
Whether a child is being educated at school or at home, it's important to care about his/her media intake. A bonus of being home most of the day is an increased chance to monitor a child's Internet and TV absorption.
Noster recommends introducing them to positive alternatives: " … immerse them in good books visits around the table, and walks in the country, stories, art, and music. In such a rich environment, history, mathematics, and other academic subjects become attractive, and their pursuit an enjoyable effort."
Choosing one's curriculum might seem overwhelming at first, but there are many sources to pick from.
Prior to searching, however, it's important that home-schooling parents figure out their own philosophy of education. This will help them narrow down their choices.
Primary home-school philosophies, along with authors of related books which usually contain resource recommendations, consist of Unschooling (John Holt); Delayed Academics (Dr. Raymond Moore); Natural Learning (Charlotte Mason, Karen Andreola, Ruth Beechick); School at Home (distance learning from private Christian schools such as A Beka Books or public school curriculum), and the Classical Approach (Douglas Wilson, Susan Wise Bauer).
Sites to see
Once you've decided on a philosophy, check out www.hsadvisor.com for a list of what's available in the world of home-school curriculum.
It's also important to contact your provincial home-schooling coalition.
Saskatchewan has a Home Based Educators' group whose goal is to assist in creating a social network and a political environment for those opting for home-based education. Its site is www.shbe.info.
In addition, the Canadian page of the Well Trained Mind Website contains links for on-line and hard copy resources.
One of the downfalls of home-schooling is that children are home practically all day.
This may result in cobwebs forming in students' heads from a lack of stimulation, or the furniture receiving a beating when the living room's used as an obstacle course.
It's ideal if home-schooling parents enrol their children in community and/or church activities. Clubs such as Scouts, 4-H, and Awana are popular choices, as are music lessons and local support group field trips, co-ops and sports.
In the end
Similar to public education, home-schooling has both negative and positive aspects.
For families on the go, or parents who aren't sold on their local school's curriculum, it could be an ideal alternative. Yet for kids who struggle with self-motivation, or for parents unable to dedicate the necessary time, public education might be a wiser pick.
Ultimately, it's about what's best for your family.
Originally published in Living Light News, September/October 2005.
Used with permission of author. Copyright © 2006 Christianity.ca.