I went to a home schooling conference over the weekend. Overall it was a good experience, but not the amazing experience it has been before. I think one reason is that I've been doing this for a while now and most of the classes were for those just starting out. Unless they change the format by adding classes for veteran teachers, but who are still learning, I probably won't go back. Still, for the group on which they focus, they do a good job. I will share most of my notes on The MotherShip Home Schools, but I will share some with you here.
One class I took was not necessarily about educating at home, but was more about ideas on how to run our homes more effectively and efficiently. Her name is Rachel Keppner and she writes this blog. I haven't read any of it, yet, but love the header picture.
I tend to want to take classes from people who have older children. (I don't think that if your oldest is eight that you have the experience necessary to teach me much.) I went to this class because she has eleven children and most of them are older than mine.
She presented the absurd idea that our children should be able to run a household before they leave my household. This is becoming a rather unpopular idea in our society. Children take care of their bedrooms, their own school work, and other things that belong to them, but they are often so busy outside of the home, that household or family responsibilities are left to the parents. She pointed out that doing work for the family (others) helps them develop concern for one another, rather than the more selfish taking care of only themselves.
She explained that our homes should be like an apprentice shop with the mother and father serving as masters to the children apprentices. (And I want my boy to be just as adept in the kitchen as my girls are at changing a flat tire. No traditional gender rules apply here.) A good mother should slowly work herself out of a job.
I LOVE THAT IDEA. Obviously, there are maternal roles that a child can never take, but I hope that by the time my children leave home, they can do everything in the home that I can do. They should be able to mop a floor and clean a toilet, yes, but they should also know how to bandage a wound, cut hair, check the oil and tire pressure, make a variety of healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, pack a family for camping, fix a leaky faucet, change a dirty diaper, dress a restless one year old, stock a book shelf, and use a sewing machine and a paint brush. This is aside from educational pursuits.
Having said that, I also need to make sure that I'm not having them do my job. I have known people from large families who don't want to have children because they feel they already raised their brothers and sisters. If they leave my home with that feeling, than I have failed--even if they can make light and fluffy biscuits. It is a difficult balance to strike and can only be achieved with constant vigilance and good counsel from the spouse.
One final, more practical tip, that she shared, was about recipes. She gives her children a simple three-ring binder. As they learn recipes, they write them in their own recipe book. I would expand that just a bit. For instance, my ten year old daughter wants to learn how to make Taco Soup. I give her my recipe and she copies it into her book. We make the dinner together the first time. The second time, she makes the dinner on her own, but I am available to answer questions ('Do I drain the beans?" or "What is 'diced' again?"). By the third time she makes Taco Soup, she can do it on her own. By the time she leaves home, she has a binder thick with recipes she can make and knows she likes! What a valuable tool!