Monday, January 22, 2007
Recently, I've been asked how one nurtures children towards responsible independence, particularly as a home-schooler.
We all want children who exhibit a level of independence that allows them to move out into productive lives, but most of us haven't really thought about what we mean by 'independence' beyond a vague cultural norm. Often we miss the mark because we can't see it very well.
In our household, 'independence' is not merely being able to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it, which is what our culture tells us we ought to pursue under the heading of independence. It isn't even 'being able to take care of myself without help'. With these definitions of independence, home-schooling would rightly be perceived as a hindrance to developing those qualities.
In our house, 'independence' means being equipped and free to serve those God has put within my sphere.
In these terms, home-schooling is the ideal laboratory for developing independence. In a home school, your community is present to sense and to mind all day, every day. It is a practice realm of manageable size, but it contains a wide variety of needs.
Some of those needs are so simple that the smallest child can meet them. And as soon as he does so, he realizes that he does not have to wait until he's 25 or 30 to make a contribution to others' lives. This is the first step towards independence. Real life begins right now.
Suddenly, learning becomes the means to improving one's ability to solve problems, to meet needs, to be useful. Learning that has immediate application to service is instantly engaging and endlessly delightful. The basic instinct of independence is developing the habit of finding ways to use what has been learned in order to help someone else.
Next time, we'll explore some methods to help children develop the habits and instincts for true independence.
To learn how this kind of independence is vital to earning college scholarships, check Countdown to College Launch: a Homeschooler's Guide to Winning Scholarships.