This question on Facebook yesterday got us thinking:
Timberdoodle: I read your catalog cover to cover when it comes, and I love your thoughtful reviews of homeschooling resources. I’m wondering, though, about what feels to me like an increasing number of DVD/computer-style resources that “replace” parental involvement (like Sequential Spelling). Yes, homeschooling parents are busy, but isn’t spending time with your kids as they learn a major part of the whole point? What is your perspective on this?
Tricia Groenewold Van Dyk
What a fascinating observation! We actually have quite a few reasons for selling independent learning tools and after a little discussion here, these are what we see as the most important factors in that decision.
Avoid Burn Out
One-on-one teaching is critical to the success of any student, and homeschoolers are no exception to that. Our concern is that we have seen moms who overdo it and become helicopter moms, micromanaging every detail of their students’ education. Is it any wonder that these moms burn out? Independent learning tools provide a natural transition from the one-on-one of early childhood to less mom-intense educational approach.
Cultivate Responsible Learners
There is a lot of (dare we say it?) fun in teaching. But it is better for your student to learn on their own at times. After all, if you think about it, when they are adults you’ll want them to have the ability to pick up any skill they want and learn it on their own if needed. Structuring their education to be more and more self-taught helps them to become a responsible self-learner.
Special Needs, Illness and Newborns
Not all moms have the same amount of teaching time. Whether they are doing therapy for a child with autism, dealing with their own chronic illness or are blessed with a newborn, there are seasons when homeschooling needs to be more independent simply for mom’s sanity!
You Don’t Have To Love Teaching
As much as no one wants to mention this, we all know moms who really struggle to teach. They love their kids and feel strongly about homeschooling, but when it actually comes down to teaching they are easily overwhelmed and intimidated. If it is an area they are not gifted/trained in, then of course teaching is scary. Independent learning tools can be the step-stool that gets them comfortable in their role, but even if they never love teaching they can still reap the benefits of giving their children a superior education at home.
Timberdoodle’s Purpose: We are Here to Make Giving Your Children a Superior Education at Home Enjoyable
Here at Timberdoodle, amid the catalogs, sales, blog posts, vodcasts, Facebook giveaways… we have one primary goal. That goal is to make it possible for parents to enjoy giving their children a superior education at home. We aren’t here to sell you stuff, (though we wouldn’t exist if you didn’t shop!) which is why we have been known to send you to our “competitors” when their product would work better for you. We really just want you to be a happy homeschool family. When that happens, we feel successful! Independent learning is simply a tool in your toolbox. It is a valuable one, so use it where it works best for you.
You don’t have to pick between independent and group learning across the board. The example of spelling is a good one. Many families would find it easier and less work to have the entire family simply work through the Sequential Spelling books all together. However, some families are blessed with a tremendous age range, and everyone working on the same list really isn’t feasible. That’s where the DVDs come in. Or take Fallacy Detective for instance, it is designed to be suitable for a student to pick up and read, learning a lot. Instead our family did it as a read-aloud and took turns answering the questions. The result? Not only did we have a blast but we were also all on the same page regarding logical fallacies. Bumper stickers and ads we came across in daily life were fodder for vigorous discussions about the underlying fallacies in ways that would never have happened if we each studied it alone.
The rule of thumb in our house was that as soon as a child could read they were responsible for their own education. We each had an annual conference with Mom to set learning goals for the year, then we were given the books for the year, often including the teacher’s manuals. Mom gave us each a weekly checklist to complete before Friday Family Night. If we needed help, we were to ask for it. Otherwise the responsibility was ours. This freed us up to do the truly important things (devotions, service, Timberdoodle work, babysitting, elder care, church projects, hospitality, farming…) as a family.
Does that help at all? We’d love to answer any questions you might have, and would especially love to hear how your family handles independent learning!