The Actual 21st Century Homeschooling Part
Homeschool families have known for years that the traditional model for teaching children used in most public schools—reading, lecture, homework, repeat—simply doesn’t work for all children. This model produces students who are good at following directions and taking tests, but not at thinking for themselves. That’s why educators push teaching 21st century skills—the learning skills, the literacy skills, and the life skills. These skills, practically applied to the teaching process, produce a very different model for learning. It’s more than a departure from reading, lecture, and homework. It’s a restructuring of the entire system to make teaching these skills possible. And in your homeschool, you have every advantage in producing a learning environment that supports teaching any skill you want. In fact, you’re likely already well on your way to 21st century homeschooling.
Schools are often locked into one structure or system by the expectations they have to meet. You can forget those expectations and focus on teaching your children how to be better servants. You’re not chasing after grades or test results. You’re preparing your children for the rest of their lives in the 21st century. So how do you do that?
By giving them opportunities to practice the skills.
Practicing and Applying the Learning Skills
The learning skills are the skills that are most strongly supported by your homeschool curriculum. With that support, they’ll often be the easiest to practice. But just because plenty of opportunities to practice a skill exist doesn’t mean the skill itself is easy. Some things may come naturally, but others will take time and effort. Your children need to use the opportunities they have to develop the skills appropriately. Does that mean you have to make sure your children are doing every activity you come across? Does it mean requiring them to answer every essay question?
No, but it is important to make sure that your children do as well as they can on the activities they do work on. The process of developing the learning skills and encouraging good learners is just as much about developing perseverance, determination, and confidence as it is about the work itself.
Practicing and Applying the Literacy Skills
Because of the expense and unease often connected with using skills related to technology, you may hesitate to offer your children opportunities to use them. As you prepare your children for using and applying these skills, focus on preparing them to be wise about technology. They should know the dangers of using technology as well as the benefits of using technology properly. Most importantly, your children need to see you demonstrating in your own life the same wisdom and expectations with technology that you set up for them.
When you do give your kids opportunities to use technology skills, be present, be available, and start small. I remember in college, my freshman English classes required us to format our papers in specific ways. It wasn’t until I was teaching the same course several years later that I realized it wasn’t about making sure papers were pretty and legible. This requirement gave students a reason and an opportunity to learn about their word processors so they could match formatting requirements in future classes. It was a small start, but it helped.
Practicing and Applying the Life Skills
The life skills are so named because they come from life. These skills teach children how to be successful in their own lives. You can help your children practice and apply these skills by involving them in your life. Teaching life skills includes showing your children how to cook, clean, and do their taxes, but it also lets them see how you make decisions and interact with other people. As your children grow and learn, you can involve them more and more in your day-to-day life and work. Eventually, there will come a point when they will be able to take responsibility for their education and will be ready to make choices that will impact their futures. If they have been living your life with you, they will likely be more prepared to make wise and fruitful decisions for themselves.
With these 21st century skills, homeschooling families are often already ahead. There’s no place like home for teaching your children and preparing them to serve Christ, their families, their communities, and their employers.
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