You are the blueprint

like father like sonImage by Jessie Pearl

In our eagerness to proudly represent homeschool to the world, we can get distracted by academic achievement as the measure of success. We are told again and again that homeschoolers are smarter than kids educated in traditional school environments. We expect our children to prove that homeschooling works when we get the test scores from the end of the year exams or the SAT/ACT for college.

We might switch from relaxed, eclectic-style homeschool to textbooks or rigorous education models when we hit high school.

Home education is hard work (it takes investment, ongoing self-education about learning and subject matter, stick-to-it-tiveness, and passion).

That said, home education is first and foremost the place where your children have the opportunity to catch the family culture and grow in it.

  • Families who love sports produce kids who excel as athletes.
  • Families who work with their hands produce kids who rip out dry wall and install toilets.
  • Families who care about the disadvantaged produce kids who want to help others.
  • Families who are hospitable and generous to their own families, as well as their neighbors and beyond, will produce kids who are open to others and who freely share their belongings.
  • Families that have a great sense of humor and a penchant for creativity produce silly, artistic kids!
  • Families who think a big vocabulary is a sign of being an adult will raise kids who trade “new” words via text to stump each other (yeah, those would be my kids).

Your children may not grow up to root for your sports team (though it’s likely they will), they may not choose your religion (though it’s likely if you are passionate about your faith, they will have opinions about religion for the rest of their lives), they may not vote how you vote, but if you do vote, they are likely to vote, too, according to their consciences.

Your modeling of what it means to be an adult is the primary way your kids know how to tell themselves that they have arrived: “I’m an adult because….”

  • If you are a risk taking, curious person, your kids are likely to be too.
  • If you read widely and talk about what you discover in books, your kids will too.
  • If you speak a foreign language, your kids will believe it’s possible to learn and speak one.
  • If you travel and show reverence for other cultures, your kids will be fascinated by people different from themselves. They won’t be fearful or judgmental.
  • If you play with math like a toy, your kids will think math is approachable and useful (at least, this is what families good at math tell me! We had the opposite effect on our kids.)

And that’s a good point! What is difficult for you? Likely to be challenging to your kids (short of finding them a qualified mentor who can transform how they see that “difficult” subject or character quality). Don’t worry too much. It’s easier to focus on what you are naturally passionate about and good at. That’s what your kids will see and value anyway.

You and your child’s other parent (if there is one) shape who your kids become. Think about the affinities and skills the two of you exude, live, naturally express. Your kids are going to look like you. Start valuing what you’re good at, because like it or not, some measure of that legacy will be indelibly stamped on your kids as adults.

Like this:

If you quilt, teach not just your girls, but your boys too! If you woodwork, show both boys and girls how to build a bookcase.

Everyone should know how to cook nutritious, tasty meals for themselves from the “recipe book of your family’s nightly dinners.” Comfort food. Home.

Your dinner time conversations will tell your kids what you value the most. They will get the meta-lesson: this is what it is to be a grown up.

  • Do you want your kids to think adulthood means “ripping” the politicians you don’t like on an endless loop?
  • Do you want them to think that education is just something to be “done” rather than a life to be lived well beyond school?
  • Do you want them to believe that money is the most important part of a career choice?
  • Do you want them to hand-wring over success and failure, or to enjoy the exploration of life with you at their sides?

How you live as a family will have more to do with who your kids become than any curriculum you purchase.

What’s so amazing is that if you keep an open-hand, if you don’t “prophesy doom” or overly script what the one-right future should be, your children will grow up to be even better adults than you and your partner. They have you, these intentional, caring, invested role models sharing their best stuff with them.

This is the best education possible! One that goes well beyond book lists and math skills.

When they get to college or their chosen career field, you will see the fruits of all those conversations and tasks you shared. They will look like you, as surely as their red hair and freckles. But a fresher, vibrant, optimistic version.

You’ll be so proud. The blueprint—turned into the finished (finishing) product of young adult.

Cross-posted on facebook.

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