Ownership vs Relationship?

How do we strike a balance between maintaining relationship and giving our kids ownership of their work?

When I first heard about homeschooling after becoming a parent, I kept hearing that homeschooling is about relationship. To be honest, I really didn’t get it. Now that I’ve been homeschooling for five years, I understand it more. Homeschooling allows you to invest in the relationship between you and your child without all the distractions of being out of the house all day and doing hours of homework, in addition to all the other influences that vie for our children’s attention!

I subscribe to 4 homeschooling magazines. In at least two of the recent issues, there is an article about our kids having ownership of their work. I find in our school that things go better when my kids “own” what they are working on.

But how do we let our kids be independent learners and foster that ownership (giving up the micromanagement of their school day) and still maintain the relationship building that comes from homeschooling?

It’s taken me some time to finish my thoughts on this because this really is a question that I’m still working out in our homeschool. So, I’ll have to ask you to bear with me as I think through the various thoughts I have on this. Much of our success in homeschooling is really based on us all working and discovering together as a family. That’s not to say I don’t let my kids work independently at all, but I do take an active role in facilitating most of the lessons.

At our house math, unit studies (with any discipline), geography, etc is done all together. I present the lesson and then the kids do work at their own level. It’s important to model the discovery process for our kids. As their teacher, we have an opportunity to model and coach our kids in how to find answers to questions. Last month, I wrote about doing science in this fashion. One of the things I enjoy about homeschooling is the excitement the kids have over finding something new. It’s a climate we seek to foster in our home.

Ownership is twofold really- there’s the idea that our kids “own” what they are working on in the sense that they feel a personal investment in their work. Then there’s the ownership that really speaks about our kids being responsible for assignments on their own.

There is value in both. As our students grow older, it’s important for us to teach them how to “own” their work and how to work independently to complete assignments.

However, I think successful independence is only built when our kids feel ownership of their studies. To that end, ownership follows suit when we actively pursue discovery with our kids and model this for them. Likewise, too much independence doesn’t foster collaboration and discovery with others- it lacks relationship.

As you choose curriculum, be mindful of how much independence versus collaboration you prefer in your school. I can modify almost anything to suit my needs, but there are certain programs that make it very difficult because they are too far in one direction.

What is it you value in your homeschool? Is it purely to make sure your kids can do as much as they can on their own? Or do you enjoy fostering independence while discovering together? How are the choices you’ve made in curriculum and planning reflected in your homeschool? Do you have a good balance? Or is there room to improve on relationship vs. ownership?

Heather is a homeschooling mom of four kids ranging from middle school to preschool and wife to a handsome chemical engineer. Before raising a family, she taught middle school science (with a BS in biological sciences) and has a masters degree in curriculum and instruction secondary education. Now teaching at home means the chance to provide the extraordinary for her children. She’s been homeschooling five years and you can read about those adventures on her blog, Blog She Wrote.

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