I love Facebook memories and seeing each day my posts and pictures from years past. This morning pictures popped up from 9 years ago. It’s from when I started this home education adventure with my oldest son who at the time was almost 3 years old. Don’t worry we will talk about that issue later!!!
We had been learning the letter A and reading about ants and got the magnifying glass out to find real ones. We took cardstock and pipe cleaners and made him a new pet ant, you can see it in the picture.
A Nine-year Journey
It’s been an interesting nine-year journey so far. However, I haven’t always listened to my gut and I let outside pressures change the course we took. Our first years were so much fun, doing crafts and exploring the world.
We got to Kindergarten age and I fell into the trap of formal ‘schooling’ and it didn’t take long to see how miserable it was making us. I call it ‘schooling’ because there is a distinct difference in ‘schooling’ and ‘education’. But that is for another post.
After six weeks of what I still believe is one of the best homeschool curriculums out there, my husband came home to find my son and I both in tears. We were miserable. The schedule was packed full of reading and worksheets and by the end of each day, my voice was gone because I had literally spent the entire day reading. My son was not retaining anything and I was watching the love of learning that had been birthed in the previous years slowly disappearing.
Back to the drawing board.
My husband told me to go back to what we had been doing. He had actually been learning. At 3 years old the kid knew what things like echolocation and nocturnal meant. More and more research is showing that learning through play leads to a deeper level of learning than a traditional school setting. And not just in the preschool and kindergarten setting.
I wish I could say that immediately I switched back to a freer way of educating but I was listening to the annoying little voice in the back of my head that kept saying we needed a curriculum. I was still a ‘homeschooler’. We also ended up with the not so fun reading issues that made ‘school’ curriculums difficult. They, like the public and private school system, are geared around kids that are reading by Kindergarten. We are very aware that there is no uniform development standard for all kids. They are unique and they develop at their own pace. So why are we forcing them into boxes they are not ready for?
We got involved with homeschool co-ops, field trips, park days, and the whole enchilada of things every good homeschooler should do. I even volunteered as a homeschool leader with the big vision that I could help to make it better. All these activities did were turn me into a stressed-out worn-out mama. My boys were dragged around from thing to thing and their learning time interrupted with paper plates crafts and stuff.
The dawn of our Maker STEM World
About three years ago, I realized I had stepped into a new world. I would say by accident but as I look back I see God’s hand guiding me there. I found this Maker STEM world that was exactly what my boys needed for their ‘education’. It was amazing to finally have a term for what we, as a family, are. We are Makers. Just a visit to our home will show you that.
As we embraced this amazing Maker STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) world learning became fun again. Really those first few years we had found the world without knowing. It is how we got here to STEM Training and all that it is becoming. It’s how my family has become passionate members of the FIRST community and teams. It’s how education, not schooling became the priority. It’s why I am no longer a ‘homeschooler’ but a ‘home educator’.
“Remember what’s important. God loves you. His Word says that He is love. Love (that is, God) leads us, but fear ‘drives’ us. Do you feel driven in your homeschooling? That isn’t God. Every time you start to feel driven, I encourage you to hit the pause button and wait on the Lord.” Durenda Wilson The Unhurried Homeschooler
If I could say anything to the mother on the other side of the camera that took the picture of an excited two-year-old with his craft ant and magnifying glass it would be SLOW DOWN. I would hand her a copy of The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson and tell her to read it twice in a row just to make sure she takes it all in. I would tell her to breathe and not listen to what other people ‘suggest’. I would tell her that she has one job and one job alone!
My job now!
My job is to teach him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents (Proverbs 22:6). It’s the motto or mission statement or vision or whatever else you could call it for my home educator role now. This has been reinforced by the study of the lives of STEM HEROs and how it was things in their childhood that sparked the interest of what would become their greatest achievement.
It has taken nine long years to find my stride and to feel comfortable with following God’s leading for my boys and they are thriving for it. Also, I found a passion in helping others see how our kids can learn STEM from a Biblical perspective. That is how STEM Training was born. It’s taken a lot of trials, errors, and mistakes. Maybe it’s okay to apply the Scientific Method and Engineering Design Process to how we educate. Maybe we could create a more effective system if we do!