Free will is an important part of our lives. Unfortunately for children, our society does not give them freedom of choice in many arenas. As a homeschooling family, I believe that giving our children choices about what they learn, how they learn, and when they learn it is important. Choices give our children a sense of empowerment and encourage self-confidence.
The public school system teaches students what to think, how to think, and what to believe. This narrow minded teaching philosophy can result in adults who are unable to think “outside the box”. Students learning in the public school system are also taught using one strict structure that not all students will do well with. All students learn in different ways, and having one mold to fit all children in is not a successful plan. This discourages children from learning more and can actually damage their self-esteem.
Homeschooling can be beneficial because it allows for a more individualized approach to learning. Some children can learn more from reading books than listening to lectures or watching videos. Others learn more from hands-on experience. Offering choices in how children learn gives them a sense of empowerment, and will foster an interest in learning that will benefit them their entire life.
Giving children choices in topics of learning gets them involved in the learning process. They aren’t just following their parents’ structure; they are taking part in creating the structure. Being involved in this process gives children a sense of pride and accomplishment. Giving your students choices will also make your job easier as a teacher; you know that they are interested since they chose the topic.
In my family, keeping my children involved in the education process by giving them choices gets them excited about school. I ask for input on activities, projects and even ways to learn. Having a discussion with the children about the positive and negative aspects of each choice develops decision-making skills and critical thinking skills.
The discussion that takes place about each choice I offer them is part of the learning process in itself! I present a few choices, I ask them which ones sound interesting and then we discuss the situation. For example, my personality works best with schedules. I asked my children if they would rather plan a school day with a schedule of classes, or merely do the work throughout the day. We had an in-depth discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of both choices; we then brought in personal experience to lend credibility to the discussion. In this way, I empowered my children and increased their self-confidence by letting them know that their opinions mattered to me.
Providing choices to our children provides them with skills they will need as they mature. These skills will ensure that they are ready for leadership roles in their adult lives, and enable them to make solid decisions in the future.