The Three R’s of Homeschooling: They’re Not What You Think

So you've decided to do this crazy, awesome, exhausting, challenging thing called homeschooling. And maybe you worry that you're not doing enough, or that there are going to be gaps in your child's education.

It will all be OK if you just focus on the three Rs of homeschooling. But I’m not talking about reading, writing, and arithmetic (which, um, don’t all start with R anyway).

1. Relationships

One of the main reasons we've chosen to homeschool our children is to foster healthy and close family relationships.

Studies consistently show that the environment in which your child learns has a huge impact on her ability to understand and retain what she learns. Brain research also teaches us about brain plasticity. This is how our brains continually grow and develop. But an essential ingredient for brain growth is having a safe space in which to explore, fail, and learn from failures.

However, a foundational focus on the relationship isn't just about academic achievement. Homeschooling isn't only about well-educated kids. It’s about well-rounded kids.

We can't control what they'll face in the world and who they'll know or interact with as adolescents or adults. But we can give them a strong sense of what healthy relationships look like, and a solid and safe foundation from which to love and empathize with others.

2. Readiness

The Three R’s of Homeschooling: They’re Not What You Think

Children are not machines. They don't operate according to timetables or charts. Rather, they grow and develop at beautifully diverse rates. Often, they move forward in some areas while plateauing in others.

Homeschooling gives us the unique opportunity to time learning opportunities with individual child-readiness. We’re not bound to grade levels, textbook chapters, or national standards.

We have the freedom and flexibility to meet our children where they are developmentally. This maximizes the time we spend teaching by moving as quickly as they are able, but not faster than they can manage.

3. Reasoning

I don't want to raise children who simply know a lot of things, or who can impressively regurgitate an astounding number of facts and figures. I want to raise children who know how to grapple with the ideas they read and absorb.

Tests and assignments can be a useful way to assess what a child has mastered and where he still needs practice. But there is so much more to a well-rounded education than what can be measured in a written assessment.

By fostering healthy family relationships and being attentive to child-readiness, we create a space that encourages each person to reason and think for themselves. Good questions can often be a stronger evidence of true learning than knowing all the right answers.

So What About Those Gaps?

Gaps happen. Think about it: there is so much beauty and wonder to explore in our great big world. You can't cram it into twelve, or even eighteen years of life.

Strong, confident children who have been challenged, but also respected, supported, and taught how to think for themselves, are uniquely positioned to continue to drink in knowledge and exploration for the rest of their lives.

The gaps are opportunities to grow, explore, and learn. And those are gaps we can live with.

About the Author

Lynna Sutherland • Homeschooling without Training WheelsLynna is a former homeschooler, then classroom teacher, now homeschool mom of eight crazy (and lovable) hooligans from middle school down to bouncing baby.

She calls her blog Homeschooling without Training Wheels because she loves to encourage families to embrace the freedom and flexibility that come with homeschooling and let go of the things that are holding them back! You can read more in her free eBook 5 Myths that are Killing Your Multi-Age Homeschool

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