Raising a Thinking Homeschooler

I missed posting last weekend. Sorry about that! I have been working hard on my novel in progress and trying to get my youngest son situated. He may or may not be going back to school. We’re debating.

Raising thinking homeschoolers is a topic near to my heart. I feel it is imperative that our kids know how to think logically and are able to articulate what they believe. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. 

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I always had a plan, but involving other humans in your well thought out course of action has a tendency to produce a bit of unraveling. And then there are my own issues and shortcomings. I vacillate between being supremely confident in my approach, and all out panic at the things we didn’t get to, the stuff they don’t know.

Living close to your own vulnerabilities provides clarity in a way that nothing else can.

I remind myself that you have to do the first things first. What the world tells us is of utmost importance is usually not so.

There are plenty of lists, scope and sequence charts, and suggested high school courses neatly laid out as a map for your typical course of study. You can find them on the internet or request them from curriculum providers.

None of these got to the core of what subjects I wanted my children to really, truly, down-in-their-core understand before they went to college or entered the workforce.

Choosing to put the first things first may cause perceived gaps. You have to make a choice. What is the most important? If this was the last day that you drew breath, what would you teach your child today?

Do that thing.

To my turn of mind, the goal of education is to be able to think, communicate, and contribute to society.

I wanted my children to be able to navigate the world, know what they believe, and to be able to think and reason for themselves. I wanted them to have an opinion and have the ability to logically argue that opinion.

I emphasized the skills I deemed important over the typical academic subjects. We did the regular courses, but there are more important things to learn sometimes. It doesn’t matter how many books you read, tests you aced, or how many facts are stuffed you’re your head if you can’t actually think for yourself.

Some people find debate easy. None of the members in our family enjoy that particular discipline. Don’t get me wrong. They have opinions, but being able to support an opinion and argue effectively is a world apart from simply being able to argue. Regular run-of-the-mill arguing is not something you have to teach your children, but a logical argument is a skill that must be developed.

I’ve pretty much ruined every movie I’ve ever watched with my kids by dissecting it. This started when they were very young. I think my oldest was probably around four. Before you think I’m some kind of brainiac who had the ability to analyze story in some special way, let me clear that up for you. I was not. I just like to question things. Once I realized that every story is written from a certain perspective, I wanted to know what that perspective was.

Here’s a big tip: All you have to do to get people to think many times is to ask them, What do you think? Did you notice what that character did? Why do you think he did it? When they said X what do you think they meant? Why do you think they said it? Why do you think they’re doing what they’re doing?

I have discovered that most people are quite willing to tell you what they think on practically any subject.

I encouraged all my children to question everything. The exception was when my second son frustrated me by his constant asking of why.

When I told him just stop asking me, he said, “But you told me to always ask why, otherwise how will I know things?”

I replied, “This is true. But you have to be quiet long enough to hear the answer!”

When I pointed out that to learn you have to listen, my son accepted my argument. This is good advice for the teacher as well. Your student won’t contribute to a conversation if you don’t listen and respect their opinions.

I did use a worldview curriculum and logic courses, but I think the biggest impact was the time we scheduled to talk about issues, movies, and books. According to the kids, none of them got this level of training in college. They find it perturbing, this lack of thinking going on out there in the “real world”.

My children each have their own unique take on world events. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that they each have a different view on many political and societal issues. Maybe I’m the odd man out, but I have a strange pride in their ability to disagree, even if that means they disagree with me. They can make their point respectfully, discuss, and then go to watch Avengers together for the billionth time.

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So, I’m going to ask the question.

What did you think?

Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!

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