Homeschool Animal School! What is it?? How can you escape??
Homeschool Animal School
You may remember the story of the Animal School (originally written by George Reavis back in 1940 and adapted by me for homeschoolers):
Once upon a time, the animals got together to form a school so that all their offspring could be guaranteed a uniform, excellent education. First, they set standards so that all the students would receive a uniform, quality education. “No Critter Left Behind” and “Common Critters” were names they gave to their programs. Then they set up their courses: flight class, climbing class, running class, and singing class.
Each of the animal parents were soon dismayed to find out that their beloved offspring were struggling in some classes and met qualifications for an IEP. The school psychologist informed:
- the eagle parents that although their eaglet had some hope of improvement in singing class with more tutoring, he was experiencing a statistically significant level of disability in running and climbing
- the deer parents that their fawn was struggling in all areas except running (an area he appeared to have some mastery)
- the cheetah parents that their cub had difficulty waiting on the rest of the students in running class (evaluation for ADHD was suggested); plus he would need special accommodations in singing and flying
All children have areas that are weaknesses. It could be spelling or math or art or attention or coordination. While we all have to work to make certain our homeschoolers learn to conquer, cope, or compensate for those weaknesses, we would do well to avoid making the weaknesses the main focus of our attention.
Instead, it is wise for homeschooling parents to help their child discover and develop his/her strengths and giftings.
So avoid having your own animal school by:
1) Enrich your child’s experiences with creative, out-of-the box field trips.
In my 20+ years of homeschooling, my kids and I (and usually our co-op or support group) have taken field trips to historic sites, wastewater treatment plants, plays, dress rehearsals for operettas, museums, dams, apple farms, state parks, beaches, big cities, re-enactments, concerts, film festivals and more. Some grossed the kids out, others were ho-hum, but some inspired my kids to explore more.
2) Study something unusual.
If you only cover the 3R’s, you may miss a gifting in your child that is waiting to be developed. My oldest son discovered his love of philosophy from a workbook his grandmother sent him, my 3rd son discovered his love of filmmaking as he watch a gazillion historical-fiction films with his history-buff next oldest brother, my second son and daughter learned to love cooking from my friend, Lois, who taught them the ropes in co-op. My youngest son was blessed to study philosophy through the texts his older brother, Dr. Micah Tillman, developed: Philosophy in 4 Questions and History and Philosophy of the Western World.
3) Explore any interest.
If a child expresses an interest or shows a gifting in any area, make the development of the interest/gift part of your homeschool curriculum. When in high school, my daughter developed a passion for photography, we had her take classes at the local community college. My son who loves making music (well, ALL my kids love to make music), developed that gift by playing in 2 praise bands, singing in homeschool choir, playing with his friends and siblings, and taking courses like History of Rock.
As your child explores, he’ll probably discard some interests (mine discarded karate) and gradually clarify what he/she wants to do. These clarified gifts and interests may lead to career choices. Better to explore many things ahead of time than to send them off to college clueless.
4) Do some active Career Exploration.
I have my high schoolers do complete Career Exploration Bundle. I developed this course years ago based on my work as a counselor (I do a fair amount of career counseling) and my work as homeschool upperclassmen advisor. I wanted my kids to have a Godly look at gifts, talents, experiences, values, and interests- and seeking God’s will and direction. 7Sister Sabrina and I also added the skills homeschoolers need for the job hunt (resumes, cover letters, etc).
As homeschoolers understand themselves and have LOTS of rich experiences, they can develop their God-given gifts and discover new talents. That’s how you escape Animal School!
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