I often say “it’s just not my cup of tea.” When I make this statement, I am asserting my right to choose for myself what I consider fun and useful in my life. So while a 20-mile training run is my cup of tea, going to a wedding shower is not. Yes, the cup of tea I choose is different than that of most people of my age, sex and social position.
Do we allow the same freedom to our children? Do we allow them to choose their own “cup of tea?” Two books that have really reinforced that question for me lately are Guerilla Learning by Amy Silver and Grace Llewellyn and The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn. These two books that focus on kid-powered learning, based on choice and interest by the child, are both change and guilt inspiring. How can we as parents give our children power over their own learning, while still fulfilling our roles as parents?
- Really listen to our children’s interests and desires. By being alert to what makes them excited, we can direct them toward activities that expand their horizons and help them reach their goals.
- Find opportunities in the community to expose them to new ideas. Being on the constant lookout for new opportunities for your children is one of the best ways parents can help their children know what is interesting to them. How can a person be interested in astronomy if he’s never looked at the stars? How can a person follow a passion for music without hearing a wide variety of music? Investigate opportunities for your children to try new ideas and activities in your community, at local museums, at the library or amongst adult interest groups.
- Allow plenty of free time for exploration. Don’t fill every moment of your children’s time. Allow them the space to find what really interests them.
One of the most difficult things advocated by these books is for the parent to support their children’s interest whether or not that is one of the parent’s interests or the parent feels that this interest is valuable. For example, it is much easier for me to support an interest in classical or bluegrass music than rock music. Although this is true, I need to allow my child to pursue his own interest. (Easier said than done.)
I highly recommend reading these books — Guerilla Learning is directed to parents, while Teenage Liberation Handbook is directed entirely to teens. Each of these will give you great ideas for expanding your child’s freedom as a homeschooler.
What have you read lately which has guided your schooling decisions? Do you believe in letting your children choose completely, or do you try to strike a balance between child-led and parent-led schooling? Please leave me a comment below.