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Be a life-long Learner - Issue 310
August 09, 2013
Hi there! ....

This week We have had a great homeschool week with both Naomi and Daniel stepping up their independent work. Of course, independent work does not mean I am now free to go and do whatever – I am still available to them to encourage and support them, it just looks different.

Yesterday we took the day off and headed bush with family friends. We were planning to go camping, but plans change, so we just spent the day together instead. Our friends had found this spot up against some typical Kimberley rocks, with shady trees to camp under and aboriginal rock paintings to see. It meant driving through some sandy country to get there – another driving experience for me – I was almost bogged at one spot but the kids enjoyed giving me that little extra push. We had a great day just doing nothing really. We cooked damper on a stick – something I haven’t done since I was a girl, lunch and dinner were both cooked on the open fire, and for the first time I cooked a meal in the camp oven (dutch oven) without burning it. We came home after dark, very dirty and tired but what a fun day!

Live life with your kids!

If you are a new Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

Be a Life-long Learner

One of the desires that I have for my children is that they become life-long-learners. I want them to see that learning isn’t about school, I want them to understand that learning will enrich their lives, for the rest of their lives. The question is – am I a good example? Am I a life-long-learner myself?

I want my children to be intentional about their learning, not just go with the flow that life brings them. Sure, they will learn a lot as they respond to the circumstances they find themselves in (life) but I also want them to be intentional – to know where they want to go and how they are going to get there. I want them to be interested in something specific and pursue it. I’m not talking about a career, though that may come into it, but to have a goal, to be aware of a need, to take interest in something and not be vague about life. But - is this my mindset for myself?

There are three areas that I want to see growth in when I consider my children’s learning: Character, life skills and knowledge. Am I growing in these areas too?

Recently a friend asked me, “What are you learning at the moment?” It was a good question. I’ve just dug into technology in the classroom, and applied that to our homeschooling. I pursued that topic, fairly intensely, for about six weeks. I found blogs, websites and newsletters – subscribed to anything that was helpful. I took notes, rewrote ideas, and planned how this could apply in our lives. I’m still learning in this area, but I have scaled back the intensity and just flicker through these blogs etc when I have the time. Not because I know everything there is to know, but because I’ve fulfilled the need for where I’m at. Now I’m working on a few lifeskills (habits) and am looking forward to an online conference on publishing. There is always something to learn.

After I finished talking to my friend I reflected back on the many different things that I have learnt over the years, the different things where I was intentional about learning. Here are some of the highlights:

  • How to decorate and live in small spaces
  • How to manage my home
  • How to quilt, sew, scrapbook and do many other crafts
  • How to dress – colour, shape, style, hairstyles, make up etc
  • How to prepare raw food
  • How to homeschool
  • How to blog and maintain a website
  • How to parent children of different ages, and manage different stages of family life

You only have to look through my bookcases to see these topics are well covered!

Then there are specific skills that I have had to learn, put into practice and allow to come a part of my life. A few that come to mind are that I learnt to chop really fast with a big knife. Not a life changing skill, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed learning (and I’m not really fast, but the potential is there!) Another skill that I have mastered over the last few years is filling my car with fuel. (I know, something I should have learnt many, many years ago). And I could do it, I just hated doing it but a few years ago I decided that I had to overcome my anxieties and just do it. Now I don’t even think about it. And just over the last few weeks I have driven down roads that I never thought I would be able to – following friends into the bush, driving through water, over rocks and through sand. Once again, to some folk, this would be a no-biggie, but to me, it was a new learning experience .

And as for character – I am constantly working on my responses to people and circumstances. In particular, at the moment I am working on self-control (to do the right thing at the right time) and order. These are two character issues that I often revisit in my life.

As I’ve reflected on all this, two thoughts have come to mind

  1. Different seasons in life have directed my learning – the season of life we find ourselves in will dictate, or at least shape, the choices we make in terms of what we want to learn, and what we have the time to learn. We need to be careful we don’t embrace the idea of learning above and beyond our priorities and responsibilities. I have always delighted in learning skills and knowledge that helps me, supports me, in the roles I have instead of always wishing and preparing for another. If we have a goal for the future, and we want to prepare for that, or get our teeth into it, then know that the seasons change, the times will turn, but don’t neglect today for tomorrow.

  2. My kids are watching every step along the way. When our kids are little we know they watch us because they mimic us, and it is cute. The way they walk, or put their hands on their hips, or sling a bag over their shoulder. But they are watching for more subtle things too – the way you stomp your foot when you are telling them off, the way you raise your voice or use sarcasm, the way you act when you are anxious. But they also pick up on the good things too, they begin to value the things you value. Relationships, Work, Order. Learning.

There are many different ways we can learn – and, just like your kids, you have a preferred learning style. Try and tap into that and make the most of it.

  • We can read and research (these days this also includes watching video)
  • We can talk to other experts (friends, neighbours)
  • We can go to conferences, seminars, classes (in real life, or online)
  • We can give it a go and learn by experience

Use it or lose it! We need to find a context to use our knowledge. Society orientates learning around the aim of a career and earning money, and a reputation, but this is just one aspect of acquiring knowledge. I think the benefits of learning are first for ourselves – it keeps us stimulated, interested in life. Learning prepares us, enables us, to help other people. It also gives us something to talk to people about –whether that is our husband, grown kids, friends, or people we meet down the street.

But how is there time to learn with everything else going on in our life? I know there have been seasons in my life that there simply doesn’t seem to be time to take on one more thing. I know this, I’ve been there. But I also think that when we value something, when we really want something we do make time for it – we may just have to think more creatively. I remember one time doing a unit of study with the kids that I was particularly interested in and instead of going to hang the laundry when they did their notebooking, I too sat down and wrote something about what we were learning. There have been seasons in my life where I have taken ½ hour after lunch and read while the kids where having their reading time (or nap time). When my kids were little and we’d go outside for play in the late afternoon, I’d sit and read while they wandered around the garden and sandpit. Other mums I know of, have a few hours to themselves on a Saturday morning as their husbands take their kids off for some daddy-time. When we are given these types of opportunities how do we spend that time? Do we blob out, catchup, or could we possibly take a little bit of that time to learn?

For some reason we often see learning as something that the kids do – it is what their season of life is all about. And then we say we want them to be life-long learners. We need to be consistent with what we value. If there is value in learning for life, then we need to be life long learners too. It isn’t just about being a good role model for your kids – learning is good and healthy for you too!

So let me ask the same question my friend asked me, "What are you learning at the moment?"

During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I've shared:

Or maybe you'd like to read something from my website:

  • Using our Brain to the Glory of God When we homeschool our children we need to find the right balance for academic studies. Wisdom, knowledge and understanding is important.

Check out other homeschool and parenting issues over at my website, Lifestyle Homeschool

My Bookshop

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?

This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter

Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

The newsletter will also keep you updated with all additions to Lifestyle-Homeschool

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