How do we organize our homeschool without being too restrictive?
How do we give kids freedom to learn while ensuring they are making progress?
Structure is necessary. Just like your skeleton provides both a framework and flexibility, your homeschool must have some purposeful design to be productive and responsive to your family's needs.
Your homeschoolers need goals to direct their efforts. Plans are the steps they need to take to reach their goals. Schedules and the organization of space and learning materials clear the path.
Without structure, children can become confused and distracted. Kids need a certain amount of predictability to feel safe and secure, and plans can provide confidence and calm. Time spent looking for books and supplies is time that could have been spent learning.
A schedule ensures that necessary things are done first. Acquiring and exercising skills such as:
- math computation and concepts
- and critical thinking
are essential for understanding and interacting with the world around them.
Children also require guidance to learn how to prioritize. They need to know how to follow instructions, follow through and finish tasks, and earn privileges by meeting age-appropriate responsibilities.
Too much structure is confining and rigid, like a body cast. We feel like we need the structure of the traditional age-graded classroom because that's what we've always known. Our country spends enormous amounts of time, money, and effort on crafting national education standards.
But let me explain why you don't need to worry about national age-graded standards: they are only helpful if you want to compare your children to 50 million other kids for the purpose of accountability to government and qualifying for funding. Unless this description fits you, don't worry about national standards. They are arbitrary anyway. Just focus on your child's particular needs and provide the structure to fulfill them.
Freedom allows your kids to feed their natural curiosity. When children are excited, they are also invested, and will stay focused on the things they are interested in for long periods of time.
Without some freedom injected into your homeschool, kids can feel restricted for reasons they don't understand, and punished with expectations that don't fit their abilities or interests.
Although we consider ourselves sophisticated adults, our thinking on education is a bit like this:
School is child at desk with nose in book. School is good. More school is more gooder, so kids need to be at desk with nose in book as much as possible.
Kids interpret freedom as a reward. Independent learning gives them a sense of power over their education, their life, and their future. If children enjoy learning in freedom, they will forever connect learning with pleasure.
Freedom allows children the luxury of exploring, experiencing, and reflecting. When they confirm something by their own observations and discoveries, they feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It's simple positive reinforcement.
However, too much freedom is as frustrating as too little, which brings us full circle back to structure.
Homeschool parent - you have the freedom to find the balance that fits your children.