Warning: You're looking inside my brain here. Things may not be completely coherent/worded correctly, or in the order they would be if I were to write out a list of my "educational goals", and some things may be glaringly missing. I'm just jotting down some of the thoughts I have about this upcoming schoolyear, to get them straight in my own head. No bashing, please :)
With the start of a new school year, and this being the first year Colin is actually "of school age", I've been thinking a lot more than usual about what I want my kids to learn, what I want to teach them, and how. I believe, especially at these tender ages, that less is more when it comes to school work. Before I've even started officially "schooling" him, Colin has started teaching himself to read, and knows basic math to a degree. He has me constantly spelling words to him, even though, so far, he can only write his name (which he didn't even want to practice doing, just one day said, "Mommy, I wrote my name!" And he had!) He's taking dance classes, and wants to start several sports- baseball, soccer, and bowling have all been requested within the last week. The kids all love singing, listening to music, and reading stories. But what do I want to teach them?
So far, through reading books by the truckload, our constant field trips, answering their questions in as much detail as they want, and letting them explore and discover on their own, I think they're on track for where they "should" be, if they were getting a boxed-curriculum education. Okay, well, Colin more than the other two. But I don't see how to divide educating one from educating all three, because the other two are going to pick up on what the one learns, to some degree or another. Matthew and I have talked about getting the Math-U-See curriculum for math, when we can afford it (Christmas present, anybody?) I want to up our field trips this year, if possible, or at least expand them a little bit to more than the Aquarium and rounds of the parks! We actually are in the process of getting a trip to Mike's Farm planned with a play group we're a part of. Mike's Farm is a big, well, farm, that does seasonal things- strawberry picking, pumpkin patch, Christmas light show, as well as educational field trips for schools and other groups.
I want them to learn at least one other language. We're starting on Russian, because Matthew speaks it, and that will make it that much easier. He's wanting me to learn Pashto so he can keep his fluency in it, so they may end up learning that sooner or later, too. I would love to learn Hebrew and Greek alongside them someday, and maybe other languages, too. Spanish would be useful, French or German might be nice. Really, whatever languages they take a fancy to. After you get over the initial language barrier it's easier to pick up additional languages. Why not learn as many as possible? Who knows what their futures will hold? Knowing at least one additional language will open up so many more possibilities for them!
Most importantly, I want to teach them to love God, to pray, to memorize Bible verses, and read the Bible. I don't think I've been doing as well on that score as I could be, because I don't think I'm as close to God right now as I could be. That needs to change for me to instill those values in them. We've started reading a missionary story called It's A Jungle Out There, written by a man who grew up in the jungles of South America while his parents worked there as missionaries. The day after reading that he and his brother rode a log down a river and nearly killed themselves, Brennan jumped out of a fallen tree in our front yard, and hurt his leg. Maybe that isn't the best story to read them. But...
I want to teach them courage, respect, compassion, responsibility, perseverance, honesty, self-control, and more. I want to teach them to be virtuous. Most people forget those things when they talk about educating a child. I think they are even more important than teaching the three R's (which most people today also struggle with!) By the time they're grown, I want them to know how to budget, how to cook and keep their house clean, how to write fluently. I want them to always have a book that they're reading. I want them to be men who are respected by those around them. I want them to live their lives completely for God. I'll use whatever means and methods I can to help them learn those things :)