How to Raise a Lifelong Learner

JMJ  *It’s not really part 2 of the school year, but it certainly feels like it.  We are not quite done with the first semester.  The majority of the states here in the U.S. require at least 180 days of instruction, but here we are, only on day 78!  

Ring the School Bell 78/180 days

We enjoyed a special Christmas, as tradition goes, with my in-laws, both in their nineties, as well as with my brother-in-law Paul, who is an awesome caretaker of his beloved parents.

Afterwards, the girls and I drove to Palm Springs to visit my Canadian cousin, Michelle, whom I hadn’t seen in more than three decades.  What fun!  My Italian Uncle Attilio, with his wonderful heavy Italian accent, and his wife Denyse, hosted us in their home, and cooked up some delicious authentic French Canadian food, which warmed my heart. For a copy of my savory French Canadian mini-meat pie recipe, click here:

My aunt’s split pea soup was awesome, just like I remembered from my childhood.  The girls and I stayed overnight at my uncle’s house, returning back home the following day.

Christmas Album

Christmas girls (1 of 1)
My Christmas angels, Sabrina, Melissa and Sarah
John with his mother, Virginia
Leia (1 of 1)
Leia, fascinated by the Christmas train
Lovebirds at Christmas (1 of 1)
Christmas lovebirds, Little Man and Tiki, enjoying a little freedom.  They flew straight to the branches!
Princess and Goldolf (1 of 1)
It is getting obvious we are pet people!  Here is Princess, posing on our Christmas mascot, Goldolf. (Get it, the gold rather than red nose!)

Back in Academicville, we plunged back into our studies today, a potpourri of programs which I have put together over the years, including Wordly Wise vocabulary, CHC spelling, Institute for Excellence in Writing, Chalkdust Basic Math, Statistics and Algebra 2, Teaching Textbooks math grade 7, Story of the World Ancient Times, CHC Science, Glencoe Earth Science, Glencoe Nutrition, Rosetta Stone French levels 1, 4 and 5, Great Courses Art Appreciation, Mission Renaissance Fine Art classes, and more…

One of the reasons I am not part of any charter school is that I have my favorite eclectic mix of curriculum, and I am stubborn in the sense that I am inflexible in what I use to teach my kids.  I figure I kind of know what works and what doesn’t after a combined 22 years between the classroom and teaching in the home.  That’s really dates me, I know!

Academics are woven through our days and nights and in between.  Lesson planning is quite the balancing act, but it is one of my favorite homeschooling tasks.  My girls are becoming increasingly more self-starters which is such a blessing.  A quote to ponder, by Thomas Carruthers, “ A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.”  That’s me!  Every time I see my kids become a little more independent in their studies, I know that I am succeeding in my “job”, and that my kids are getting closer to one of my ultimate goals of raising them to be lifelong learners in the grand school of life!

How to Raise a LifeLong Learner

As the master of learning himself, Albert Einstein, has professed, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

Instill an ongoing joy of learning with these ideas:

  • Consider homeschooling, which offers much flexibility and opportunities for stimulating education.  Encourage your children to discover their passions and follow them.  Whether or not you have chosen to homeschool, the following ideas are useful for helping your child to wake up to the world around them, and love learning new things.

Snow- Roses 4 U

  • Pay attention to what attracts your child. Is it science, solving puzzles, designing areas, making things, planting a garden? Nurture these interests. Encourage a child’s natural curiousity and indulge it.  It may grow into a lifelong passion.  Sarah loved anything dinosaurs and devoured all books about them.  Why not go with what is interesting to your child?  While it is important for children to have a broad understanding of what’s out there, it is okay not to be a master of all areas, but instead to explore a subject in depth.  This is one of the things that fosters continued interest in education.

Snow- Peace in Love

  • Go to the library and browse with your kids, looking for topics of a diverse nature. Bring home a pile of books each time, and look at some together. Leave the books in common areas for convenient access.  Avoid just having textbooks and workbooks around, lest your kids start equating having books solely with doing work.  A love of books starts at home.  Take 20 minutes a day and read a book yourself!  It will soon become a past-time you look forward to.

Snow- Young Love

  • Model learning behaviors yourself. Go on family/field trips often and develop an enthusiasm for learning.  It is not hard to do if you take a look around.  It just takes a little investment of time. If you have a local museum or science center, go there often.  Don’t feel that you have to see everything in one visit, or you will wear yourself as well as your kids out! One of our favorite museums is the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.  On numerous visits with friends and family, we have had the opportunity to get on board Air Force One, touch a piece of the Berlin Wall, pay our respects to Ronald and Nancy, learn about the Reagan years, enjoy a spy exhibit, Vatican exhibit,  and participate in historical reenactments.

Snow- Where's the Love

  • Educational television. For many years in elementary school, Discovery Education for kids was Sarah’s default for break time.  That, and looking for roly poly bugs in the backyard, with her sister Melissa.  She has always loved science in all its forms, and remembers facts like I never could.  Ultimately, she chose geography, which includes lots of earth science, to study in college, in large part I believe, because her desire for science was nurtured at a young age.

Snow- Xs and Os

  • Discourage excessive computer learning. Don’t leave it out altogether, but limit this area.  There is too much temptation here, especially as your kids get older, to wile away the hours on social media sites such as facebook, youtube and Instagram.  I have seen this firsthand.  My daughters in college, while they are getting good grades, spend a good amount of time going back and forth between their studying and entertainment on the computer.  I know it is fun, but to excess, it can be a huge time-waster.  Many, if not most, university assignments are on the computer and it is fun to take many breaks on social media, but why encourage it at a young age when creative and imaginative minds are developing?

Snow- Groovy Kind of Hearts

  • Give your kids as carefree a childhood as possible, to invite creativity and imagination into their lives, as well as a love for learning. Try not to overdo it with a super-packed schedule which often leads to a super-stressed kid, who sees studying and learning as just one more task to do.

Yes, textbooks and homework have their place, but remember to make learning fun as much as possible.  Incorporate some of the above ideas and you will find yourself, one day, in the company of a whole family, committed to lifelong learning.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette








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