What is Self-Directed Learning And How Can You Incorporate It Into Your Homeschooling

What is Self-Directed Learning And How Can You Incorporate It Into Your Homeschooling

While there are many different ways to approach homeschool there is really only one way to figure out HOW to learn.  When we can figure out HOW to learn and not just WHAT to learn we can set ourselves up for a life of non-stop growth, transformation, self-confidence and reliance.  When we figure out how to learn and direct our own learning journey the opportunities we come to see the world as a place of abundance with limitless possibilities.    

 

Self directed learning can happen through a process in which a person can freely direct or navigate the course of their own unique personal learning journey. It is when an individual takes initiative for their education.  They figure out in a supportive environment rich with literacy and numeracy how to identify their learning needs, formulate goals, identify resources for learning and choose how to implement an action plan to attain those learning goals.  

It is a beautiful way of life where living and learning become one.  Where we see our lives as intricately intertwined with learning.  Learning about ourselves, our relationships with others and our relationship with the greater community and world in which we live. 

 It calls upon individuals to be an active participant in their education which fosters metacognition and involves understanding how you learn. 

Knowing how to learn is an essential skill in our lives as adults so we should empower our children to do the same. 

If you are looking for reasons as to why self-directed learning works then please, keep reading!

 

1.  Self directed learners are able to teach and learn for themselves the most valuable skill of life-long learning: the skill of knowing HOW to learn. When you figure out for yourself how you learn then you have provided yourselves with one of the greatest gifts- the ability to grow and nourish an innate drive and need to self-educate. You will no longer need to rely on others to teach, but instead will know how to seek out support and identify methods, ways, strategies, and skills to teach yourselves.

2.  Today’s economy is driven by innovation, entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and creativity.  We need to cultivate entrepreneurial-like qualities that include being able to think critically, creatively, have a sense of agency over choices and decisions that we make while being able to look at the world in new and imaginative ways. This is acquired when we have the freedom to direct our own learning, to take control of our lives through self directed learning. 

3.  Self directed learning promotes the natural development of self-confidence, initiative, perseverance and life satisfaction.  When we feel in control over our lives and the choices that we make our brain can function in a goal oriented way. This optimal state allows our pre-frontal cortex where executive functioning skills such as critical thinking and decision making to develop optimally. 

4.  Having agency over our lives means that we are responsible for the decisions that we make which help us create our own paths. When we direct our own learning we increase our ability to make good directions since the stakes are often high. The more practice we have with making our own decisions and weighing them against options the more likely we are to grow into responsible, sensible, compassionate, and productive adults. 

5.  Self directed learners will learn for the SAKE of learning and not because they have to.  Their curiosity drives their pursuit of knowledge which means they become an expert in their comprehension of knowledge.  They often start their quest for knowledge with questions in mind.  As they search for answers they naturally connect new knowledge to their prior knowledge and schema which improves how well they comprehend information.  In turn, self directed learning is associated with better long term memory retention.

6.  Self directed learners regularly utilize good comprehension strategies such as monitoring their reading, evaluating information, using inferencing, determining important elements in a text and later synthesizing it so it can be applied to new experiences.

7.  Self directed learning is set in a context of real world experiences. When learning experiences and opportunities are set in contextualized, real world scenarios we are more likely to apply what we have learned

8.   Self directed learning is fully supported or facilitated by caring, resourceful, and loving adults from the entire community.  It requires awareness, access to resources, connection, support, opportunities, and experiences beyond the walls of the home or classroom. 

9.  Self directed education creates a collaborative culture where individual liberties and freedoms are valued and exercised. A collaborative culture is a win-win philosophy.  This win-win philosophy means that we can exercise our freedoms as long as they don’t inhibit the freedoms of others. We can negotiate terms, decisions, and choices. This is different from compromising where we may be asked to give up on something that is valued by us. Compromise asks us to sacrifice  or surrender something important to us.  It comes from a place of lack and a place of wanting to win out over the other person. However, when we negotiate we stand up for what is important to us and make a decision that works for all parties involved.

10.  Without expectations to meet particular proficiencies, expectations, and/or deadlines, self directed learners can go on quests for knowledge for as long or as little as they would like.  This means they can dive deep into a particular area of interest for months at a time which may result in even more inquiries and acquisition of new skills that even they didn’t expect to acquire.

Self-directed learning creates conditions for optimal social, emotional, and cognitive development with self directed learning.  Our children and the future of our world need humans to grow with an awareness of their inner genius and capacities for greatness. 

 

Leave some comments below on your thoughts of self directed learning. 

Family Values

Family Values

Family values relate to everything that is meaningful and important to you and your family.  They embody the ideas of what type of life you want to live together. They are the fundamental principles that serve as a guide for all actions made by family members.  As you embark on the parenting and homeschooling journey you will rely on these values to give you a sense of meaning, purpose, and the ability to achieve goals. 

Often your family values are ones that have been adopted by generations past, but they should evolve with time, experience, and environment. They should be developed and revisited from time to time. I would suggest at least every year or two. Most importantly, your children need to be active participants in the development of the list. 

And while you may have family values that are shared, remember that your children are their own sentient beings and will develop separate values in time.  Understanding that other people (including your children) may have different values from your own can help you better understand that other person. This as a result can create a more compassionate and harmonious relationship.

Values are important because they:

  1. Serve as a guide for the decisions that we make day to day – may be referred to as the guiding principles or life goals.
  2. Inform thoughts, words, and actions in different situations
  3. Strengthen the relationships between family members by clarifying what is important to the family as a whole and also what is important to each member individually.
  4. Help avoid misunderstandings, unnecessary aggravation and distrust. 
  5. Serve as the heart of the climate and culture of your home.
To get started on how to develop family values you may find it helpful to be aware of the different categories of values.  Let’s take a look at those categories now:

Social Values – peace, justice, freedom, equality, acceptance, unifying and empowering the community

  • Being kind to others
  • Standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves
  • Respect 
  • Giving up your time to volunteer in the community
  • Generosity
  • Honesty
  • Cooperating and collaborating with others

Work Values – philosophies about your job, finances, and how you spend your money, how you approach learning, schooling, and education. 

  • Always do your best
  • Collaborative approach
  • Save portions of your salary 
  • Life long learning, open mindedness, and growth mindset
  • Finding pride in accomplishments of self and others
  • Expressing oneself creatively and authentically
  • Being aware of the role that your work/career plays in the larger community and society

Moral Values – an important responsibility of parenting is that you can help show your children how to act morally. They need to know how to treat others with respect, dignity, kindness, goodness, and equality. They need to know about good, care about the good, and practice doing the good in the world. These values center around what you think is right or wrong.  These provide the foundation from which you make decisions. They are often learned from previous generations and from experiences. 

  • Self acceptance and acceptance of others- welcoming others whose ideas and practices differ from your own
  • Compassion and understanding the suffering of others or self with a desire to take action to help and repair
  • Cooperation which includes helping your family and friends, giving and returning favors
  • Courage and willingness to do difficult things
  • Equality and believing that every human deserves equal rights and to be treated with respect
  • Fairness which is to act in a just way and sharing appropriately
  • Generosity with a willingness to give resources, help, and time to others

Recreational Values refer to those things in life that involve relaxation and play. These values are just as important if not more important than the others because they promote a close, connected relationship in the family.  They provide opportunities for learning, creating memories, improving social skills and developing empathy. Examples of recreational values include:

  • Providing time and space for unstructured play
  • Placing value on and encouraging family members to pursue interests
  • Vacation time together
  • Quality time together

How to Make Your Family’s List and Keep Them Alive

Creating a list of your family’s values may seem daunting or overwhelming at first. But, you sit down and reflect on these categories and the role they play in your life you will find that identifying your family values is much easier than initially thought. 

It is imperative to sit as a family and give each member a chance to speak about what is important to them.  Getting input from everyone, listening and attending to their needs is essential.  This will create a sense of shared responsibility in which you and your children will gain a sense of autonomy and internalize these values more easily. 

Do not, however, expect this to come together all at once. Most likely it will take some time, maybe 2-3 conversations or more before you and your family feel like you have developed a comprehensive list. 

Please read through the following tips to help you develop family values that are meaningful, relevant, and powerful

  • Talk about what is most important to your family.  What are your strengths?  What gives you guidance when you run into disagreements? 
  • Identify a short list of words or phrases that best describe your family?
  • Brainstorm a list and write down your thoughts, stories, ideas, words, phrases.  Use a whiteboard or large poster size paper to write down anything that is discussed. 
  • Provide each family member with a small whiteboard or paper and pencil. Have them free write or draw pictures of what is important to them 
  • Give ample time to think and discuss.  Take some time alone and time together to talk. 
  • Aim to agree upon 10-12 values.  Of course you can have more or less, but many more may prove to be too overwhelming or confusing. 
  • Display your list in a common area of the house where everyone can see it each day.
  • Refer back to the list from time to time and especially after your family goes through a particularly difficult moment or day.  
  • Use the list as a teaching tool.
  • Revisit and rewrite the list as needed.  The list will evolve over time as your family changes.

In review here is your step-by-step guide to creating a family values list at home:

  1. Talk 
  2. Brainstorm
  3. Discuss
  4. Take time to think
  5. Revisit list
  6. Reconvene and agree upon a family list
  7. Write the final list down 
  8. Place the list in a common area of the house where it can be easily viewed each day

In the end, family and personal values are a must.  They will guide your decision making processes throughout the parenting and homeschooling journey and serve as a way to create more harmonious and fulfilling experiences. In the end, remember that these values should help you and your children create your best life! A life that is meaningful, fulfilling, and honors your true, authentic self!  Enjoy the ride!


 If you would like additional help in identifying what your values are please visit The Values Project and complete this value survey.

Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift

“Education is what people do to you. Learning is what you do for yourself.” Joi Ito

Virtual Learning

Schools and communities are doing the best they can right now to provide some sense of stability and normalcy for families and children during this uncertain and anxious time. But we all know, especially educational experts, that virtual learning is a far cry from the ideal learning environment

Watching a lecture, taking notes, asking a question or two, and then regurgitating the information for an online test or quiz is not even close to the ideal learning environment that teachers and community members strive for. It favors a direct approach to teaching which, if done correctly, plays an important role, but is not ideal 100% of the time. In addition, virtual learning or blended learning is meant to supplement, not replace teaching. It is not exactly how real, lasting learning takes place. 

I am sure that we can all attest to the fact that we miss face to face human interaction and real world experiences. 

Paradigm Shift From Teacher to Learner

With that, I want to be able to paint a clear picture of the learning environment that teachers strive for in their classrooms. I want to share with you a paradigm shift that has been evolving over the past several years in schools across America and how it affects you, your family, and your child’s growth, development, and learning journey. 

This paradigm shift is one that involves moving away from direct instruction to an approach that focuses on the learner.  One where the student is charged with being a leader, orchestrator, and director of their own learning journey


This paradigm shift sees the learner as curious, wondering, and inventive bringing forth vast capabilities and competencies.  It recognizes that learning is an active process and that we are born with a natural excitement and eagerness to discover and learn that is something to be fostered day to day. 

As I write from the perspective of facilitator and author of professional development courses for teachers across America, I see the immense efforts behind creating this ideal learning environment where students direct and teachers support.  I aim now to share how that can be done at home. 

Science-backed Support

We have known for years from a tremendous amount of research that learning is an active process. Lasting learning, the kind that activates key areas in the brain such as the amygdala where learning and memories are stored and the prefrontal cortex which “selects and manipulates goal relevant information is set in real-world, meaningful, and authentic contexts. Experiences that we find valuable are experiences that we will want to dive deeper into exploring, inquiring, and investigating.

If content is not meaningful, authentic, or proves invaluable to the learner then we are more likely to check out and any information acquired is quickly lost and forgotten.

From a neurological perspective this evidence has become clear as day in the past several years.  It is now confirming what some educational progressives such as John Dewey, Jean Piaget, and Maria Montesorri have claimed for nearly 150 years.  Humans are born with immense learning capabilities. They are born able to think critically, problem solve, experiment, hypothesize, communicate, create math, and so much more!

Children do not need external, specific rewards to learn. They are born to be active, inquisitive, curious, and problem solvers. We all learn differently and at different paces. Most importantly, experience is central to learning.  

Student-directed Learning

So, how can we honor this?  How can we come to accept, validate, and capitalize on children’s in-born zest for learning?  The answer is student-directed learning.  

Educational experts, administrators, and teachers have been moving toward a classroom environment that is student-directed for a long time.  An environment that moves away having a teacher at the front of the room using direction instruction, memorization, and regurgitation of facts as best practice to one in which students are actively involved in planning, implementation, and assessment.  This shift involves a lot LESS TEACHING and instead MORE LEARNING

Teachers now strive to support, scaffold, and consult instead of dictate, direct, and coerce.  They want students to take control of their learning so they give them autonomy and empower them to direct their learning journey as much as possible.

This means that teachers share power. They share in decision making, give students opportunities to take charge with interest based choices, give up the need for control (hello student freedoms!), and they apply skills to the real world. 

Educators also know that when content or assignments do not tap into the interest of the child, the effort, results, and in turn overall learning suffers.  

Can we even call it learning when students zone out of an assignment or feel forced to complete something that lacks meaning and purpose?

When it comes to assessment, most classroom teachers strive to create authentic experiences and meaningful assessments where students can showcase their learning in ways that are meaningful to them. This means that some of the most effective assessments are not traditional paper and pencil ones.

If your child is enjoying the distance learning and you see authentic evidence of growth and application of what they have learned, then that is fabulous! Continue to use what resources your child thrives on but keep it in balance and remember that deep, meaningful learning is set in authentic, self-directed, real world contexts.

And, if your child seems  miserable or disengaged with online learning, then take a step back and ask yourself if the environment supports self-directed learning.

While this pandemic crisis makes it difficult to create real world conditions and experiences, you can still create an environment in your home to support authentic, self-directed learning to some extent. 

How to foster self-directed learning at home:

  • Trust-  Read the research that shows students have the capacity to lead and take charge of their learning. Children do not have to follow a standardized model of knowledge and skill development. Remember that all kids are unique and will learn and grow at their own pace and in their own way. Learning is a journey, not a race.

  • Shared Decision Making– Have your children share in the decision making process. Collaborate with your child, help them set their own goals, and give them a voice in what they learn and how they engage with content. 

  • Assess Child’s Needs and InterestsUnderstand what your child values and what is truly meaningful to them. Use this knowledge to build and deepen experiences. 

  • Give up your need to control– Your children are capable and curious. Show support, offer invitations to new experiences, challenge their thinking, raise questions, and learn alongside with them. Model for your children what a learner is and does– be curious, wonder, research, question, persevere, challenge, and more! 

  • Offer ChoicesCreate interest-based choices and invitations to learn then offer authentic ways to share what they have learned with others.  For example, is your child a budding paleontologist? Invite them to study to their hearts content all things fossil-related.  This could lead to a 3 month study ranging in reading, writing, speaking, listening, math, science, art, computer science, communication, collaboration, and so much more!

So, if you are new to homeschooling and anxious to find the right online curriculum for your children, or simply feeling lost and confused amidst this chaotic time, I urge you to take a look at the research and take a look at your child’s learning environment from the perspective of those in the field of education by using these guiding questions:

Will this give my child the opportunity to take learning into his or her own hands?

Will this put them in the driver’s seat and take ownership of their learning journey?


The shift from teacher to learner is here and it is here for a reason. For many reasons actually!

Be empowered to empower your children!

Give them the trust, freedom, and the choices they need to thrive.

 

Rule of Three

Rule of Three

The Rule of Three has been a powerful writing principle and learning technique for thousands of years with impact in government, communication, math, science, literature, health and nearly all other aspects of culture and learning.  Some may be so bold to say that it is the key to power. A number of magical proportions! My kids love magic. This is how I use the magical Rule of Three.

Our Brain and The Rule of Three

Where is the proof in this? It all starts with pattern recognition. Humans are born with innate abilities to recognize patterns. It is through pattern recognition that you are able to process and encode information from the environment. How does the number three relate? The smallest number you need to create the most simple pattern is three. So, when you digest or process information that comes in groups of three, we are more likely to encode the information and convert it to memory because of its simplicity, rhythm, and our instinctive ability to recognize patterns. 

Magic!

What are some common examples of where you see the Rule of Three applied? Essentially, you can find it everywhere, but it may be most obvious in the context of communication. For example, you will see it in writing. Thomas Jefferson wrote life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness; we use the phrase stop, look, listen, to catch someone’s attention; and mind, body, spirit to connect to our self.  

It is also used to better engage and captivate an audience. When an author or speaker shares a trio of events, characters, or ideas, the audience is more engaged and entertained than if any other number of events, characters, or ideas were used. Consider some infamous stories such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Billy Goats Gruff and in a more broad context, the beginning, middle, and end of a story. 

Ever wonder why we write phone numbers and social security numbers in chunks of three? It is simply easier to remember any three part combination or cluster of items. Look for it in speeches, music, plays, jokes, visualizing and so much more!

In Context

When I see my children’s eyes light up with wonder and curiosity, I will sometimes use the Rule of Three to support their investigations and deepen their connection with the experience. 

It really doesn’t take much effort to apply and what kid doesn’t like talking about magic!

Today, for example, a landscaping service pulled up across the street. Fascinated (keep in mind that we are currently bound to our home due to the COVID-19 stay at home order so a crawling ant provides profound entertainment), my children ran to the window and started chatting about the loud, unusual equipment. My daughter asked about the various parts of the vehicles.  Since I wasn’t looking, I asked that she describe what she saw.  We continued chatting about ways to describe the equipment as my younger daughter started to chime in. I shared in their interest and excitement by saying “Wow, describing things is fun!  What else can we describe?” 

We went on to describe stuffed animals, toys, clothes, and other items that were meaningful to them. 

How did I use the rule of three here?

We chose three ways to describe an object: size, shape, color. 

We also used three experiences to explore the idea of adjectives.

  1. We described the items that we saw.

2. We described items that we felt.

3. We drew pictures of the items that we described.

This impromptu adjective and writing game became more appealing and engaging using the magical Rule of Three. 

Let’s explore some other ways that you can use the Rule of Three:

Storytelling and Writing

  • When we write or tell stories, we come up with three ways to describe characters or three different solutions to the problem. We may use three adjectives, nouns, verbs, phrases, etc. 

Experiences

  • When my kids and I explore topics I do my best to provide examples in different contexts. I may give a number example, a story example, and a physical or movement example.  For instance, in exploring numbers and multiples I asked my daughter how many petals a flower had that she picked up on our walk. Here is my number example: “I have a flower with 5 petals and you have a flower with 5 petals, how many petals altogether? Then, I gave her a story example: “On our walk to the garden I found 2 yellow flowers, you found 2 pink, and your sister found 2 purple, how many flowers did we find altogether?”  Lastly, I might ask her to show me two claps, two stomps, and two jumps.  These three different examples set in a meaningful context creates stimuli for the brain to better process this concept of multiples. 

Learning Environment

  • We talk about the importance of caring for yourself, caring for others, and caring for the larger community (which may be in the context of the environment, the local community, or the world.)

Choices

  • When we talk about giving choices I strive to give three choices.  On the flip side when my kids ask me a question, I encourage them to give me three choices. Groups of three sound pleasant to the ear and I find my kids tune in more closely!

Lists

  • We make a ton of lists in our house from grocery lists to lists of birds we saw on our walk.  While we usually come up with more than three, we often focus on our three favorites which we are more likely to remember and able to talk about again at a later time.

Photography

  • When my kids and I take pictures either on my phone or on their own kids camera, we use the rule of thirds so that the photo is positioned well. In using the rule of thirds you imagine a grid dividing the picture into thirds. You may want to position the photo in one of the three sections of the grid depending on the subject and background.  For example, when taking a close up of a person or animal you want to place their eyes at one intersection of the grid to draw attention to the face.

Math

  • The rule of three is used to calculate ratios and proportions.  In math it is called the Rule of Three method where you take three numbers to calculate the fourth unknown number to solve proportions. For example, a map may use 2 inches to represent 300 meters in real life. If I want to walk to the library and I know that it is 6 inches from our house on the map, I can create a proportion to figure out how far the library is from my house. y  = 300 x 6/ 2 = 900 


Science

  • I use the rule of three to talk about what makes something scientific. We talk about types of scientists all of the time. Biologists, botanists, psychologists, archaeologists, paleontologists, and so many more.  But, what is science?  Science follows three rules: It is falsifiable, replicable, and correlation does not mean causation. In an experiment scientists set out to disprove their hypothesis or show that it is false. They create experiments that can be repeated again and again with the same results.  And lastly, science says that just because two things are correlated does not mean that one caused the other. 

In the end, I facilitate learning through opportunities for practice, hands-on experience, and applications to explore content in at least three different ways. 

How can you take advantage of the way in which our minds expect these predictable patterns? 

Go easy on your mind with the power of three!

Core Values

Core Values

Living a life of unending growth, learning, joy, connection, and love is my mission here at Conscious Homeschooling.  Finding meaning and purpose that is unique to each member of your family is my goal. 

I want to take a moment now to share with you my core values. These core values identify what is important to my family and I. These core values are at the heart of our family purpose and vision. They help us find the motivation to continue when life throws us a curveball. They guide my mission to serve you and your family as we work in collaboration to find purpose and meaning in your own unique journey. 

Relationships

The relationship between a child and their parent is a sacred one.  It is the foundation for all learning, growth, and development. This invaluable relationship starts with you, the parent. The parent has to look within and engage in their own inner work for the parent-child relationship to be healthy and flourish. To start, you cannot love unconditionally if you do not first love and accept yourself unconditionally.

The relationship that forms between the parent and child informs and teaches the child about the world. It shapes the way that the child sees the world for the rest of their lives. It is in part built on the experiences that you share. A safe, secure, and connected relationship will ensure that your child grows with a strong sense of self and self worth. It will determine how they love themselves, how they love others, how they respond to setbacks or heartache, and much more. It is important that the relationship is built on trust, unconditional love, and acceptance. This is what a loving, nurturing, connected, and trusting relationship looks like. 

Trust

This is the foundation upon which parenting and a healthy life is built. I believe that we must trust our children first so that they can trust us. It is clear from a profound amount of scientific evidence that babies are born intelligent, competent and capable. They are all unique and extraordinary humans. Parents have to let go of misguided beliefs and false understandings that children are born as empty vessels, waiting to be filled with knowledge. Instead we now know that children are active participants, like scientists discovering and constructing their own ideas of the world. Not only are babies born with profound learning and imaginative capabilities, they also comprehend and express deep, real emotions of the human condition.  My work involves not only creating a lifestyle of life long freedom of expression and learning, but also bringing awareness to misleading information that has led many to forget or dispel a child’s inborn genius. Trust our children. 

Respect

Another cornerstone of my approach and practice is respect. A strong, healthy relationship between the child and parent must be marked by mutual respect. This means that respect goes both ways between parent and child. We must respect, honor, appreciate, and love our child’s essential being, unique spirit, and extraordinary mind. Seeing our children as is, as they are right now in the moment and accepting them for all they are outside of preconceived expectations, desires, beliefs, and fears. This frees us from the pressure we feel from ourselves and from society to mold, fix, or change our children. It is only when we can learn to respect ourselves and our children, that they will learn to respect themselves and others. But the work starts with us, the parent, not the child. When we learn to accept and respect ourselves with acceptance and compassion, then we are able to do this with our children.

Play and Freedom

Allowing a child’s natural inclinations to unfold and flourish by providing them with time and space in which to grow into their own is how they learn. I believe we must respect a child’s unique spirit and journey as linked yet differentiated from our own. In other words, we recognize that our children are on their own unique journey and that we are there to serve as their teacher, guide, and consultant, but not as an authoritarian, director, or micro-manager who leads through fear, punitive measures, or coercion.

Children should be the directors of their own lives. Do you want your child to be autonomous, confident, assertive, and change agents? They cannot be autonomous without having autonomy. Agency and autonomy develop by giving our children the power over their lives that they rightfully deserve.  Children need us to create conditions that make them feel safe, secure, valid, and nourished.  This way they can spend their time exercising their minds and hearts.  

Flexibility

Responding thoughtfully and intentionally instead of reacting in emotionally charged ways has more positive outcomes on social, emotional, and cognitive development.  Childhood is a transformative and developmental process that calls for compassion and understanding.  My young child wants to stay up late to read, ok- we can be flexible.  You don’t always have to draw a hard line when creating limits if it is not a matter of safety and well-being. After all, does life require humans to be flexible at times?  Of course! Therefore, children should be active participants in their lives and as such should be given the freedom and flexibility to grow and develop in their own way and at their own pace. When limits and boundaries are set, they are set for the health well-being of themselves and others. 

Curiosity

Humans, especially children, learn by observing, experimenting, questioning, and playing. As active participants, children are born wanting to know about the world. Newborn babies follow sounds, sights, and objects with their eyes because they want to know how the world works. The best way to ensure that our children become lifelong learners is to nurture this innate curiosity. I believe in respecting and honoring this innate curiosity by sharing in the wonder and excitement that children find so naturally.  Instead of taking them away from what interests and amuses them just because it is not something that is deemed educational or acceptable by some misguided beliefs or societal standards then I step back and let them explore further and share in their investigations by wondering and questioning with them.  Three of the most powerful questions that you can ask your children are: “What do you notice?” “What do you wonder?” “What else?” With this curiosity, we will forever learn, grow, challenge, and gain knowledge that will bring us purpose and meaning. 

Experience

Experiential learning is learning through experiences in a wide variety of  contexts. This equates to real, meaningful, authentic, and lasting learning. Learning is an active, not passive process. When children have opportunities to exercise and develop the thinking parts of their brain, the prefrontal cortex, the neurons can fire away connecting and reconnecting so key skills such as critical thinking, planning, decision making, impulse control, and more can flourish.

Connection

A practice of engagement and connection with my children is never ending. With this I can help them develop an awareness and respect of social and emotional intelligence. I choose to live in likeness with my children and be a source of love, understanding, and strength setting boundaries and limits with an open heart and open mind approach.  I do not believe in the use of punitive measures, controlling, punishment, or coercion to gain compliance. Instead, I encourage healthy conflict that results in exerting one’s assertiveness and practicing negotiation skills where everyone involved has the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas while listening and respecting the other person’s thoughts and ideas. When I set limits and boundaries they are purposeful and intended for a higher purpose, for optimal development, and to create a harmonious, safe environment. 

Empowerment

I do not view my children as empty vessels that I need to mold, fix, or change in order to follow predetermined roles or expectations.  I recognize my child as their own unique being who needs an internal and external environment that allows them to grow into confident, valued individuals who know their self worth. As such, I challenge them, ask questions, and make space with open arms and ears for when they want to share their voice and opinion with the world. 

Perseverance

I sometimes find it hard to see my kids struggle and get frustrated, but if I let the struggle play out and offer a gentle voice or presence of support, then my children often overcome the struggle with a feeling of pride that is truly beautiful to witness. I  talk to my children about the importance of learning from mistakes, the value of effort and hard work, and the importance of not giving up.  Praise efforts, not products and continue to encourage a growth mindset which is essential to life-long learning.

Resilience

 Sometimes it can be hard to admit, but life is unpredictable and ever-changing. And while we like to have control over our lives, that is not always the case. The unexpected or even unimaginable is a reality of life that we all have to accept as normal and natural. Therefore, helping our children learn to get back up when life knocks them down is critical. Building resilience is a key component to developing a healthy mental, social, and emotional compass. This means that as parents we have to learn how to balance the scale so that we are neither overly supportive nor too permissive.  If we can learn to be the guide on the side more often when our children are struggling, instead of jumping in too quickly to rescue them from challenge, then they can expand their tolerance of challenging emotions, practice coping skills, and experience for themselves that they can overcome difficulties and challenges. Resilience is a quality that equates to having greater satisfaction with life and well-being. 

Challenge

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable means putting ourselves into uncomfortable, risky, and challenging experiences that stretch our minds and hearts and accepting that it is where learning occurs. New situations may be uncomfortable at first, but when we challenge ourselves we are able to trigger the release of key neurotransmitters that motivate and energize us.  Research shows that if you are not outside your comfort zone, then you are not learning new skills. When we challenge ourselves we are able to expand our creativity, confidence, and stress tolerance. 

Success

While the experience of challenge and struggle is critical to building resilience and developing a growth vs. fixed mindset, it is important for children (for everyone) to experience success.  But, what does success mean to you and your family?  Well, that is something that you and your own family have to decide. In fact, it is something that each human has to decide for themselves for success means something different for everyone. For my family, we talk about success in the context of these values that I have just listed. One day, success may be  finding a moment to connect with my daughter by cuddling on the couch reading a book, another day success might be seeing my son put his puzzle together and clapping for himself with pride. Success is living with purpose, meaning, and fulfillment and that is what we strive to do each day in our home.

I love being able to share these with you and I look forward to guiding you through the process of identifying and living in connection with your own unique core values!

Benefits of Homeschooling

Benefits of Homeschooling

Homeschooling families are on the rise in the United States and across the globe.  In the United States alone the number of homeschooled children more than doubled in just over 10 years.  Today, homeschooled children represent 3.4 percent of the population. Families are recognizing the many advantages from increased learning, flexibility, improved social-emotional health, and more.  

Homeschooling has the same benefits of traditional schooling:  friendships, quality academics,  extra curricula’s, online learning,  but it comes without some drawbacks you might find in traditional schools such as bullying or rigorous evaluations. Here are some reasons why I believe that homeschooling can provide the right conditions for optimal learning and development: 

Academic Benefits: 

  1. Recent research shows that homeschooling provides an excellent education.  For example, results from “A Systematic Review of the Empirical Research on Selected Aspects of Homeschooling as a School Choice” by Brian D. Ray (2017) published in the Journal of School Choice showed a statistically significant positive correlation with home education and achievement. Of the 14 peer-reviewed studies analyzed, 78% of the them showed a positive correlation with achievement for the homeschool students.  More specifically, Ray, B. (2017) found that homeschool students perform 15-30% percentile points higher on standardized tests, they score above average on SAT/ACT, and they graduate college at higher rates than their non-homeschooled peers.  The conclusion here is that homeschooling can serve as a fantastic way to educate your children so that they can lead a happy, successful, and fulfilling life.  
  1. Providing your children with the opportunity to take control of their learning more readily can build their autonomy and resilience.  Self-directed learning provides children the opportunity to more readily explore and expand their skills set in something that they are truly interested in and passionate about.  It allows for them to more freely explore their natural inclinations and curiosities.  In turn, your child will be more likely to figure out what they need, or don’t need to learn best. Neurologist’s Todd Gureckis and Douglas Markant recently found that self-directed learning has positive correlations with cognitive processes such as memory and attention.  In self-directed learning individuals can better encode and retain information over time. In addition, as children explore their own interest they develop a strong sense of identity which is critical to building confidence and self-esteem.  
  1. Increased opportunities for experiential learning which is learning from experience.  How do we know that we have learned something new?  Neuroscientist’s have this figured out. They have unlocked the secrets to how we learn.   When we learn something new the neurons in our brain re-wire into new patterns. In other words, to re-wire is to learn. The cells in your brain can actually change shape and the pathways of communication throughout the nerves in your brain strengthen.  Your brain is plastic, this is called neuroplasticity.  Your brain can change based on how it is used, or not used.  How do we get neurons to fire and re-wire into new patterns?  It is through experience, an active form of doing, rather than a passive form on receiving.  But it is not just any experience, it is an experience that is real or authentic, relevant and meaningful to the learner.  Allowing the world to be a child’s classroom exposing them to real world scenarios which brings project based learning and place based learning to the forefront each day.
  1. A customized curriculum that is tailored to the specific needs of your child.  Unlike in a traditional school setting where the curriculum is chosen for you, in a homeschool setting you and your child can choose the curriculum that best meets their specific needs, learning styles, and preferences.
  1. A personalized learning environment. A learning environment is the platform in in which we engage with one another and our surroundings to acquire new knowledge and skills.  This environment can help or hinder growth, productivity, and transformation.  A supportive, safe, and positive environment can help children thrive.  At home, we have the ability to create the best conditions possible.  If your child needs a quiet spot to read and concentrate you may be able to provide that more easily than in a traditional school setting.  
  1. Children can reach goals more efficiently and effectively than in a traditional school. Little time is wasted on transitions, behavior management, waiting for others in your class, etc.  The amount of time spent on school work truly depends on your values, the curriculum, and approach to homeschooling. Regardless of the approach you chose, the environment can prove less distracting overall which can allow your children to operate with increased concentration, attention, and focus.  
  1. You will have the opportunity to create a more consistent and progressive educational experience because you and your child will know more clearly what they have learned and not learned.  The process of evaluation and feedback to identify gap or areas in need of improvement will be more personal and efficient.  
  1. A unique and diverse college transcript that may be a less stressful process since your child can focus on what is most important and meaningful. You will have opportunities to enroll in a wide range of interest based classes including college level classes. In addition, colleges are often attracted to homeschooling students since they bring unique and diverse experiences.  
  1. Less pressure from ongoing evaluation and testing.  It is hard to think more critically, problem solve, be creative and inventive when you know that you are going to be tested. It is also hard to feel intrinsically motivated to learn, change, grow, overcome challenges, when so much weight is placed on evaluation and expectation.   

Social – Emotional Benefits 

  1. The opportunity to spend more time with your children to build and improve relationships.  
  1. The ability to engage in a lifestyle and model core values, beliefs, and a worldview that is meaningful to your family.  
  1. Devising a routine or rhythm for the day that best meets the needs of your child so that they are appropriately challenged yet not feeling lost or overwhelmed.  
  1. Flexibility of your family’s schedule permitting you to live in freedom and harmony finding a rhythm that works for everyone. Does your family likes to travel? You do not have to bound by the school calendar.  Would you like to stay up late one night star gazing with your new telescope?  Sure because tomorrow you can just sleep in! 
  1. Increased opportunities to engage in social interactions with peers and adults. Research shows that there are no significant differences in social development between homeschoolers and those in conventional schooling experiences. Since homeschoolers are engaged in real-world community based experiences socializing with people of varying ages and backgrounds, they are shown to be more prepared for real life than those kids who spent most of their childhood in a traditional school environment.   
  1. You can provide a safer learning environment that is free of experiences that may be inappropriate or dangerous including physical violence, drugs, alcohol, racism, or improper sexuality that may be found in traditional schooling. In addition you will find fewer negative peer influences and bullying incidents.  
  1. Opportunity to develop greater confidence and sense of self-worth and esteem by engaging on a regular basis with community members of all different ages. When children have opportunities to display their skills in a wide range of contexts with a variety of different people, not just their peers, they grow in their self-confidence.  You will also have more opportunities for your child to try new things as they engage in real world experiences such as visiting the library, museums, traveling, camps, classes, co-ops, and more. Trying new things will help them feel even more confident and capable than they already are.  
  1. Cross cultural interactions that are more in depth and varied than those that can be experienced through traditional schooling. For example, they might participate in community groups through local charities, churches, libraries, clubs, volunteering opportunities, etc.