A few things that have shaped my educational philosophy:

 

Link

This book was given to me by a college professor my graduating semester.  It can apply beyond the scope of church.  The point is:

TeachingLearning

Busy WorkLearning.

So, as a teacher, whether at church or homeschool or any class we teach, we need to evaluate if an activity is enhancing learning or is it just busy work.
The word evaluate means to determine the value of something. Are the worksheets a valuable use of our time?
I took economics classes in college as well, and the idea of opportunity costs has impacted how I view schooling my children.
 
We have a limited amount of money, time, energy, space in our homes. Are we making the most of these resources?
 
Worksheets are certainly not bad, but are they the best use of my time? Crafts can be fun, but does the amount of time, money, space it takes up, and effort (and sometimes tears) enhance the learning experience or take away from it? For some it, it might be worth it. If the end product or the experience brings about either joy, enhanced learning or encouragement/service to someone else, then by all means add it to your busy day. But if not, your kids will not be lacking from having missed the project.
 
THIS IS WHY I DO SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON PINTEREST. There are ideas galore but they are not usually needed. It’s important to evaluate if these activities are enhancing your life or not. Are they helping you meet your goals, or are they causing guilt and frustration and tears?
 
Sometimes worksheets are necessary – math for example is best learned with repetition. So is handwriting and spelling. However, evaluate whether or not time spent doing school is equivalent to learning and mastery of the subject.
 
Sometimes worksheets or projects are good for character building. Students learn to persevere through hard projects. Learning perseverance is definitely not a waste of time.
 
So, as I look for links and things to recommend regarding nature conversations, I want to include ideas that enhance learning and conversation and observation, not just another activity to do. You can find those on pinterest if that’s your thing. : )
 
So, back to the idea of opportunity costs. If you cut out those things that are not necessary, you make time and space for the goals in your life.

If school takes less time and is more efficient, I can:

  • Get rid of extra books, curriculums, etc – free up space and guilt from not using them. Instead, make use of a few quality resources and use the library often.
  • Have less structured craft time and give them technology free down time. This frees up kids to be more creative.  They can learn perseverance in their self-started projects.
    • One day, I was about to get my oldest started on her math assignment, but first I asked her, “What are you doing?”  She was playing around what some people would call trash (old bottles, foil, saran wrap, etc).  She was figuring out ways to change the pitch when blowing in the different bottles.  I decided her assignment could wait half an hour because she was using the scientific method on her own and making observations.
  •  Value quality over quantity.  This could be in the books you read or in the curriculums you use.  This could apply to the papers they write.
  • Use free time in service to others – writing letters of encouragement, taking care of siblings or for us – other people’s children sometimes, cooking for your own family and for others, doing yard work for a neighbor.  These are valuable life skills that we need to teach our kids.  And we need to teach our kids that life is not all about their entertainment and life is not all about school either.
  • Money saved on less books, less field trips, less craft supplies equals money for serving others.
  • Evaluate all the extra-curricular stuff going on.  Count the opportunity costs.  Is it worth it?  It might be.  For us, it’s not.  Not while I have little ones.  Not while staying home allows me to minister to my neighbors.
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