Homeschooling or Home Educating?

I hate schoolwork. I love to learn, but I hate inapplicable learning. I’ll never forget the time Dan insisted on showing me some process involving trouble-shooting a computer program I had never used and thought I would never use. I really did not want to watch and was quite vocal in declining, but Dan urged me to learn, “just in case…” I wish I could say that I submissively observed, got caught up in the process, and have now expanded my credentials to include the title Computer Programmer. In reality, I stood behind Dan to watch, my eyes glazed over and my rebellious heart complaining about what a horrendous waste of time this was. Dan and I have talked about this incident a number of times over the years, and we have found it so insightful in motivating our children.

Our children love to learn, but when the learning becomes difficult, their “want to know” is influenced greatly by their “need to know.” This year the children have decided to pool their resources from warehouse work and begin farming. Although Dan and I will still own the land, they are footing the bill for the barn, chicken coop, fencing, and animals. If all goes according to plan, by the end of the year we will have added to Solid Rock Farm three Babydoll sheep, one horse, two miniature donkeys, and a flock of chickens. While it may look as if we are just having fun, consider for a moment the educational value of this decision.

They have spent hours trying to hammer out a budget for affording this undertaking. Grandiose plans have been scaled back after the numbers have been crunched. A lot of research­—reading–is going into the decision-making process. These are not children’s books, but are books and journals written for adults, with terminology we have never heard of, so their reading and vocabulary skills are improving. Even the catalogs are expanding our vocabulary as we puzzle over the differences between Snaffle and Kimberwickes bits. In addition, their writing abilities are positively reflecting the breadth of the materials they read. Correspondingly, we recognize that from nutrition to medication, successful farms involve an intimate knowledge of science. So what are we missing? Well, we’d have to work pretty hard to cover all they should know for history and geography and we do place a high value on foreign languages. Towards that end, and to ensure that our children have at least a nodding acquaintance with what others perceive as basic education, we spend approximately one to two hours a day in formal academics. With four hours a day at the warehouse, these few hours sitting and learning can almost seem like recess to them!

So what is the difference between home schooling and home educating? You are home schooling if your children’s learning is centered around what your state, neighbor, or cousin says that they should be learning. Home educating, on the other hand, is taking the initiative to prepare a home that is rich in learning opportunities. Minimize the trivial, emphasize the practical.