Children have the right to an education that fits their unique individual needs, that is full of joy and exploration and free from coercion and stress. Adults have learned that we all have different learning styles and varied strengths and weaknesses. It is not unusual to hear someone rattle off several alphabet letters which describe their personality type. Children are little people who also have different learning styles and a variety of strengths and weaknesses. I firmly believe that every child is intrinsically wise in some area. I enjoy poring over Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. We are learning more all the time about how the brain works, how people learn, and realizing that if people work in a career which fits their personality type and learning style, they succeed and are happier in ways they have not been before. Our children need to explore these areas and learn about themselves so they can fit their secondary education and career choices to themselves. Education has become so expensive, it’s quite foolish to just go to college, change your major several times, and get out of school in debt for the rest of your life.
Recently, as a returning student, I took a college class designed for non-traditional students, the “older student” version of Freshman Orientation, if you will. One aspect of that class was going to some websites with tests to figure out your strengths and your interests http://www.typelogic.com/ and http://www.livecareer.com/ from which you could go to a page that would give you ideas for careers. I was amazed to find that some of the things I have most enjoyed doing and jobs I have loved were what popped up for me. There were also some ideas that I would never have thought of. But what a great tool this would be for kids to use!
Having grown up with a father who worked at a job for the government which he hated and always wished he could run a donut shop, I always said that I wanted my kids to follow their passion and do what they love. Therefore, during homeschool years, I was all for dropping everything when they discovered something they were excited about, and spending quality and quantity time exploring that new passion. I would help them by creating what I called a “Relaxed Unit Study” - - pulling together ideas of places to visit, books to read, videos and experiments, whatever I could find to pique their interest and then they could choose whatever they wanted. Of course, they often had their own ideas, but the whole purpose was just to make available as many ideas as possible and turn them loose to explore. Sometimes the passion died out quickly, a little information was enough, it wasn’t as exciting as they initially thought or whatever. Other times, as in the case of my daughter’s love of anything to do with the ocean, we based much of her learning in every subject area around something to do with the ocean. It is really not that difficult to create a resource list of activities and ideas, books and materials around a topic or area of interest. Oceanography meant using seashells for math manipulatives, painting her bedroom to look like an aquarium, learning the oceans and all about the animals that lived in them, studying coral and learning to identify the shells her grandmothers had given her, reading stories about going to sea and sailing, and even writing her own book with an ocean theme. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I could ramble on endlessly, but will leave it here and hope to spark an interest in helping your child explore and learn in their own way.
A freelance writer, Marsha serves as a homeschool resource for her local library and has written articles for Home Education Magazine and a column for Home Educator's Family Times. She has served on the planning committee for her local homeschool cooperative, taught creative writing, edited the newsletter, and been a member of the HUB (Homeschoolers United Building) advisory committee. Her book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Homeschooling, was published in February 2001, and she has spoken at homeschool conferences and curriculum fairs in Texas, California, and Michigan. She is presently working with HEM Books to update and republish her now out-of-print homeschooling book. She also holds down two part-time office management jobs, one outside the home and one for the family business.