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Homeschoolers as a group are more mature and better socialized, participate in more activities in their community, and better socialize with children of different ages.

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Instilling a Love for Learning

My husband and I home schooled our children for more than ten years. Two have since graduated and one is attending a private school now. Many of our most meaningful learning experiences were those that occurred as a course of daily life and not from reading textbooks. I was determined that I wanted my kids to love learning and to see that goal fulfilled I discovered I couldn't use "canned" curriculums. It took me awhile to feel confident enough to put away the carefully laid out lesson plans to take advantage of the spontaneous educational moments that life presents, but I don't regret it one bit.

All too often it was all out of my hands, anyway. Our family-operated home business took us on the road away from any kind of normal school routine four months out of the year. Often a "typical" day would be interrupted by a faxed wholesale order that required hours of printing, folding, collating, and bagging map sets. The last three years of home schooling found us living in three different states and publishing our first two books. How do we have school in all of this chaos? In reality the very chaos that would threaten to ruin our school days provided a wide array of learning experiences that no textbook could have ever touched upon. I learned, rather stubbornly I must admit, to go with the flow and allow those things that pop up in life and those things that were of interest to my children to guide the way to learning.

Early on in our home schooling adventure we began to let any experience become "school". Going to the grocery was a lesson in getting the best bang for the buck as the children learned to calculate which brand was cheaper by the ounce? Canning season brought new challenges as we attempted to can, dry and freeze bushels of apples, peaches, pears, and corn all purchased at once at bargain basement prices directly from the farmers. My girls can bake fresh tender pecan rolls from the grain to the table in less than 2 hours; they can roll their own oats, sew their own clothes and stamp Christmas cards. My son learned how to assemble displays for our booth, pack cartons and place them in the trailer fit like a puzzle so nothing will slide around. They can laminate and trim the excess lamination, run a cash register, answer questions and converse with adults and children of all ages. They all learned how to prepare meals, gather wood, build a fire, and construct awesome forts at our favorite camp site. When we moved to Kentucky, my son learned the names of the trees in our back yard and drew pictures of their leaves in his nature journal.

When I directed their schooling I had to learn to be flexible to allow them the freedom to use the materials in the way that better suits their style of learning. Once when my daughter was of the age to learn to take notes I instructed her to use the history book (Stories of Liberty, not a textbook) as practice. She was to outline each chapter. Busy as I was, I did not check up on her until weeks later. What I found when I looked at her notebook was quite surprising. She did not outline the material as I had instructed, but she had rewritten each chapter in her own words and drawn beautiful little pictures in the pages of her composition book complete with detail and color. This was how she learned best. Outlining was my idea, but the self-directed learner in her developed her own way. She told me recently that she remembers that part of her history better than any other she had learned.

My husband and I had run out of any time to teach him as the growing business consumed too much of my day. More and more I had to let go of my idea of what school was all about and allow those natural opportunities take over. Provide resources, encourage their natural learning instincts and establish an educating atmosphere. This was fine and good in our own little world, but what happens when they were no longer learning from the home environment?

When my daughters started attending college and my son began high school away from home, I must admit a fear swept over me as I reflected upon the unscheduled, free-wheeling- learning-lifestyle kind of education we had provided our children. Did they learn enough? Would they be able to handle structure, textbooks, and unbending deadlines? Would my son be able to sit in a chair upright the entire length of a class period, much less all day? I'll never forget that September morning just a year and a half ago when I saw the van drive up the hill and away from our home without me. All three children on their way to school, 2 in college one in high school, none relying upon me or their dad to teach them anymore.

In reality they had been teaching themselves for a long time and they were doing a fine job at it. And yes, they all did well in their new learning environment. It wasn't all up to me after all. My job was to provide guidance, keep some progress going along, help make learning fun, and instill in them a love of learning.

Cindy Wiggers wears many hats including that of homemaker, author, publisher, and motivational speaker. As a veteran homeschool parent of three children, including two college graduates, she knows that of which she speaks. By developing flexible, easy to use materials Cindy has given the homeschool community a map to the joyous freedom that home educating was intended to be. You can check out her other articles and products at

©Copyright 2002 Cindy Wiggers - Used with permission of the author.

Homeschool girl reading