A Lifestyle of Learning
Children naturally love to learn. In addition to structured learning, children need opportunities to pursue interest-directed study. We chose to homeschool our children because the home environment allowed our children to actively learn through discovery.
Twenty-five years ago, when I decided to homeschool my children, I did not know anyone else who was doing it. It seemed wonderfully radical! Having earned a master’s degree in education, I taught in both public and private school classrooms. I knew the short-comings of the education system first-hand. I began my teaching career with much hope and idealism. Education should be enjoyable and exciting. I soon discovered the limitations of what a classroom teacher can accomplish. So much of the way the education system was set up took the excitement out of learning. As much as I tried to create meaningful, hands-on learning experiences for my students, I often found that meeting the top-down imposed goals and objectives meant “teaching to the tests.”
The Grandfather of Homeschooling
I was first introduced to the idea of homeschooling by Dr. Raymond Moore. He is considered the “Grandfather of Homeschooling.” I was out running errands and listening to an episode of Focus on the Family on the radio. The host, Dr. James Dobson was interviewing Dr. Moore about the topic of homeschooling. Dr. Moore’s description of home education encompassed everything that I had hoped education could be. He described a “Lifestyle of Learning” concept that took place naturally within the home setting. Dr. Moore’s description of homeschooling blew my mind! Although my oldest child was only three years old at the time, I was determined to learn all that I could about homeschooling. I hoped that it would be the type of quality education that I had dreamed of for my children.
I found quite a few books by Dr. Raymond Moore and his wife Dorothy. These books seemed to me like a cool drink of water for a parched, dry throat. They were exactly what I was looking for! Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore put into words what my intuition had been telling me. Education could be meaningful and enjoyable! I knew my three-year old was curious to learn and she absorbed information like a sponge. Could it be possible to fan the flames of her curiosity well into her school age years?
In The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, Dr. and Mrs. Moore assert that the best education is one in which the student’s interests and motivations are taken into account and encouraged. “Your job as a teacher is not just to communicate knowledge but to impart that vitalizing energy which is inherent in the mind-to-mind and heart-to-heart relationship of one-to-one teaching.” (The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, p. 107)
For example, a child might be interested in learning about Iran because of current events happening in the news. The parent can launch an interest-driven unit study on Iran. “Let them study distances, weights, values, topography, products, religions, attitudes, clothes, literature, music, and on and on. Include the wars of the ages, and kings like Xerxes, queens like Esther, and cities like Susa (Shushan) and Babylon.” (The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, p. 107)
Without context, memorized facts are temporary and meaningless. Throughout my education, I had memorized meaningless facts for the tests, and forgotten them as soon as the tests were over. My true education encompassed the things that I had learned through interest and experience. This was my goal for my children’s education. Homeschooling gave us the freedom and flexibility to pursue this goal.
Homeschooling was hard work, and believe me, it had its challenges. Looking back after homeschooling my four children from kindergarten through high school, I am extremely thankful that we chose this course. Dr. Raymond and Mrs. Dorothy Moore deeply influenced my thinking about education. I embraced their “Lifestyle of Learning” philosophy. My children are now grown and I am happy to say that my grandchildren are now being homeschooled.
Lifestyle of Learning Principles
- More is caught than taught.
- Faith and worldview are not compartmentalized, but inform all aspects of a child’s education.
- Flexibility must be built into the daily schedule to allow for children to learn at their own pace.
- Ample opportunity for one-to-one relationship between teacher and student should be given.
- Children need the opportunity to actively learn through discovery and experience.
- Children thrive when given the freedom to figure things out without grave penalties for making mistakes.
- Many opportunities for interest-directed study should be provided.
- Children ought to be included in practical living experiences by participating in real-life, meaningful activities that will prepare them to manage their own households when they become adults.
I recommend the following books by Dr. Raymond and Mrs. Dorothy Moore for your consideration as you develop your own educational philosophy. Some of the details are dated, but most of the principles are timeless!