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I’d like to welcome Lila to the blog today. She’s being a sweetheart and helping me out on the blog as I’ve a really busy couple of months facing me and thought I’d lean on the Five Minute Friday Community for a little bit of help. Lila comes to us by way of Creating Romance blog. Lila helps Christian women create romance in their marriages as well as deepen their spiritual relationship with Jesus.
5 Benefits of Self-teaching
Have you ever thought: I see the benefits homeschooling my kids, but I’m not a teacher. Who am I to give my children a quality education? Or, have you already started homeschooling and realized how much time and energy the traditional approach takes, and you’re running out of energy and ideas? I was, too.
After I got engaged to my husband, he told me he wanted me to think about homeschooling any kids we might have. I looked at him with saucer-wide eyes and gulped. I had graduated with a degree in Humanities, because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I had several areas I was interested in; but I knew that Education was not one of them. I did not want to be a teacher.
So when he asked me to homeschool, I hemmed and hawed, like Moses hesitated when God called him out of the burning bush.
“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go…?” Exodus 3:11, ESV.
But my husband comforted me with these words: “Don’t worry about standing up in front of a classroom to teach. We’ll use ACE, which teaches children to learn on their own, self-teaching.”
I had never heard of such a thing, coming out of public school and then Christian college classes. Learning from lecture was just the way things were done. We even learned that way in church.
Fast forward eight years to when our oldest son was ready for kindergarten. I had just given birth to our second (and youngest) son, so my husband offered to start teaching until I was strong enough (and brave enough) to handle both teaching and the baby.
I watched him explain the workbook, just working through four pages a day. It started out with easy coloring pages, tracing lines, and recognizing shapes. My husband read the few simple instructions for each page, and my son followed the example. It seemed simple enough.
Then it was finally my turn. I just read the instructions like my husband had, and let my son figure it out. He breezed through all of kindergarten in half a year! So we started him on First grade, and he breezed through that in half a year! My youngest son did the same thing. Both of my boys are already a grade ahead of everyone else their age.
Though getting a grade ahead or graduating early is definitely not guaranteed, children are able to go at their pace. They can speed through easier courses for them, such as Reading and English for my youngest son or Math and Science for my oldest; or they can take their time and go slower for courses they struggle with more, like Word Building (spelling and mechanics) for my oldest or Math or cursive writing for my youngest.
Your children could benefit from this unconventional approach to teaching, too. Here are the top five benefits to education minus lectures.
1. Takes Less Time in Preparation for the Teacher
Having never taught the traditional way, I’m not personally familiar with hours of lesson plans. Indeed, I’ve never made a formal lesson plan in my life. That’s one of the many conveniences to this self-teaching. The curriculum has everything the student needs within itself.
Students read the assigned pages, answer the questions, and only ask questions if they’re stumped. The only thing the teacher really must do is to grade the tests. You can decide whether you want to check all pages or have the students check their own work with the Answer Keys. To prevent cheating, I check all their work right now; as they earn my trust, they will be allowed to check more and more of their work.
2. Customizes Learning Speeds
No more holding back the exceptional students or pushing the struggling students to keep up. With this learn-at-your-own-pace system, you can tailor amount of work and even grade levels to each child. One way I do this is through checking each answer in the Answer Key.
Though you certainly don’t need to check each page, and I believe the established ACE policy is to make the students eventually check their own work, I like to check their work to see where they’re making mistakes. Children don’t always ask for help when they need it. I use their corrections to shore up any areas they’re struggling with, and I also use them to gauge how well they are grasping a concept. If they’re not getting it right away, I may add an additional assignment, such as when I wrote extra cursive letters for my son to trace and practice.
It’s up to you how much time you spend on each subject and how much time you think your child will need for each subject. You can give them one-on-one help when they need it, but let them learn on their own when they don’t. I generally assign four pages in each subject every day so that they should be completing three PACEs per subject each quarter, completing each grade’s 12 PACEs each nine-month school year.
But if your child needs extra help in one subject, they can finish in the summer, or they can take longer to finish each grade. It’s up to the student how fast they want to go, which is helpful for students who learn in any style.
3. Lowers Overall Cost
Private school is expensive. And homeschooling, though usually less per month than most Christian schools, can get costly when you add on all the extras: the science experiments, the rulers and compasses, the calculators, the charts, the maps, the extra reading books, etc.
With ACE, each PACE has what is required. There are optional assignments that will need extra materials, but the majority of work will all be done from the PACE.
I pay as much for my children’s PACEs for the entire year as some Christian schools charge for tuition per month. That’s a good deal, and it’s still quality education.
4. Teaches Self-motivation & Ongoing Learning through Reading & Research
Some of you traditional educators may be wondering how self-teaching can be “quality education.” The vast majority of students actually learn better when they’re required to do the research themselves rather than sitting and listening to a lecture. Even kids who don’t like to read can still learn self-discipline, which is one of the most important character qualities we can pass on to our children.
Self-discipline is one of the hardest traits to teach, especially in the traditional educational system. A supervisor or teacher is always looking over students’ shoulders, prodding them to “get to work,” or “hand in that assignment,” or “you’ll have to take that home if you didn’t finish in the allotted time.” Their priority is to the majority of the students.
Students who are far behind or far ahead get left out. They’re either constantly struggling or constantly bored. I know. I was one of those kids.
However, in this self-taught system, students are left to tackle their work on their own, for the most part. Whether they get through the grade in a year is entirely up to them. It fosters industry and persistence, as well as rewarding them for working ahead.
It also helps them learn consequences for their actions. If they allow themselves to be lazy and not finish the allotted number of pages for the day, they will face the consequences of continuing to work during the summer, or not being able to take as long of a Christmas break, until it is done. As the teacher, you set the schedule. You also set consequences and rewards. But they must do the work. And this lesson alone is worth it in this world of graduates who don’t want to do anything for themselves.
There are still rules students must stick to, and still a few tasks for the teacher to be responsible for; but they get less and less, if you follow the guidelines and allow students to figure it out on their own (and remain patient with them when they fail). Then they will learn more from their mistakes.
5. Turns Students into Life-long Bible Studiers
Not only do students learn a Bible verse for every PACE, they are also making a habit of reading a passage for content and picking out the important information. This helps in personal Bible study, especially later in life when they don’t have any more required assignments.
More future church members who will read and learn the Bible for themselves is beneficial for our church families, too, as it will decrease the amount of contextual errors and heretical doctrines while furthering each individual’s independent relationship with the Lord.
Conclusion: Though not perfect, the benefits of the self-teaching method of homeschooling far outweigh the few flaws, in my opinion. Not every child, in fact very few children, learn best by listening to lectures. This DIY approach to education takes less preparation time for the teacher, customizes learning speeds for each student, lowers overall cost, teaches self-motivation and ongoing learning, and turns students into life-long Bible studiers.