So the question here was how to deal with a kid who doesn’t put much effort into his Fun-Schooling pages. The thing is, this seems to be a child that needs more specific Fun-Schooling journals based on his passions, and not the open-ended kind where they can just put in a quick answer and a little bit of effort. They associate all book work with their past and they don’t really put their heart into it because they want to do something else. Sometimes the problem is that mom says, “After you finish school, you can get on the computer and play games, or you can watch TV or videos, or you can go play outside”. So when you tell a child they can do something fun or maybe addicting when they are done with school, they are going to rush through their work—even the best Fun-Schooling journals—because they want to go do what they want to do. One really important tip I like to give to moms whose kids want to rush through their Fun-Schooling journals, is not to tell their kids they get to do all these fun things when they get done with their school work. You tell them, “Take as much time as you need on your journals today, and then when you are done, you will be helping me scrub the toilet and clean out the refrigerator.” When your child is looking at the prospect of scrubbing the toilet or cleaning out the refrigerator, or maybe something as simple as taking out all the trash in the house, they are no longer rushing through their Fun-Schooling book. The other point is, make sure you are providing the child with materials that meet their needs and learning personality. If you have a kid who is only motivated to learn because they are learning with somebody they love, you will want to spend more time collaborating with that child and satisfying that need.
Mom-Schooling is a really great tool with these kids. You set up their Fun-Schooling basket and your Mom-Schooling basket, and you sit close to them and do your work together. That works for some kids. Others, they really want you to read out loud to them, and have you helping them with everything. They will act like they can’t do anything unless you are right there, helping them through everything step by step. It’s not because they can’t do it. It’s because they really love bonding with you or an older sibling. What do you do with these kids when you have other things to do than just sit next to your kid while they do school? One thing I’ve found that works with my Friend Learner daughter is that she loves birds. So if she has a bird on her shoulder, she can totally focus on her schoolwork because she’s got a little companion. A lot of times they just want a companion. A little guinea pig, or pet bird, or some kind of creature they’re not going to kill very easily…something like a super friendly cat or dog that doesn’t need too much attention. Get them a Beta fish and set it next to their school work on the table. Any living thing will do…frog, lizard, or whatever.
Another thing that’s great for these companion learners is that if you have more than one child, you can use the same Fun-Schooling book for multiple kids. This is super easy. I have a zillion kids, and I like the homeschool hack of giving them all the same Fun-Schooling journal when I can so that it just simplifies everything. You can give your 7-year-old and your 12-year-old the same United States journal and they can either work in the same one, or in their own, and they have a bond because they are both working on the same book. If you have a companion learner, go ahead and have them collaborate with a journal that another kid has.
Let’s talk about our Explorers. These are the kids that need to get up and run around and not sit still. They are completely distracted all the time. These kids are actually brilliant. Super smart. They just love being active. Kids are supposed to be active, and active kids are supposed to be really active. We make the mistake of thinking “good kids” are supposed to sit still, be quiet, and do their work. These kids will not be doing some kind of boring desk job in an office where they sit all day. So don’t even worry about trying to train that child to just sit down and be quiet and do all the boring stuff. Encourage your child to do all the fun things and learn through adventure and discovery and going places. I made some Fun-Schooling journals specifically for this kind of kid. For example, the Active Boys Journal will have an academic activity and then it will have an active activity. Then it will have another academic activity and then a creative activity. Then it will have an academic activity and then something more passive like listening. We go back and forth, and every other page is a different kind of activity that allows them to have brain breaks and to be active. These kids cannot do one academic activity after another. They have maybe a 5-15-minute attention span, so just go ahead and give in to that by doing little lessons and then doing something active, and alternating like that. That’s okay. You don’t have to train the active kid to sit still and be quiet.
Let’s talk about the Detective learners. I was a Detective/Creator, and when I was in school, I was a terrible student. I didn’t care. I didn’t care about school. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be there. I would go because that’s what kids had to do. I didn’t give it any effort because everything they were trying to teach me was so boring and had nothing to do with who I was and what I wanted to learn. The Detective learners get a really, really serious passion. Like maybe they are really into dinosaurs or Star Wars, or really into horses or the history of art and architecture or fashion. Maybe they are into geography and learning about other cultures. Whatever your Detective child is interested in, all you have to do is give them the tools and organize their learning time around their passion, and they’ll dig deeper and deeper and learn lots of skills that will be relevant when he or she grows up.
Then there are the Creators. You can’t teach them. A lot of people think that you can, but you can’t. These kids teach themselves. There is nothing you can do about it…just give them the tools they need for learning. Give them all the resources and all the freedom. Find out what they are interested in, and provide them with the stuff. A lot of times they have Dyslexia, so they will get into Language Arts and literacy later; but they are amazing with the creative arts. So I would say if you have a kid that’s a Creator, let them major in the creative area that they love and let them get really good at it. Homeschooling is an opportunity to help your child to get really good at the thing they are passionate about—so good that people will pay them lots of money to do it professionally. I’ve found with my kids, when they decide what they are passionate about and I start investing in it and allowing them to focus their time on that passion, they will usually spend three to five years of their teen years building up their skills, and by the time they are 18, they are so good at whatever they do that they can just go for it. It was really sort of scary following my heart and following my kids’ passions and really trusting that they could make careers out of these passions, but I’ve got 15 kids, I’ve got five who are out of the house supporting themselves. I think that’s pretty good!
I’ve made lots of Fun-Schooling books for Followers, because four years ago we adopted five kids from an orphanage, ages six to sixteen, who had been in public school and they were completely turned into Followers. They could not imagine being creative. They didn’t use logic, they didn’t use creativity, they didn’t ask questions. There was no wonder or curiosity at all. All they wanted was to be told what to do, and they would do it and move on. So I really made an effort four years ago to publish books that worked well for the Follower-style learners. I found that with my Follower-style learners, when they first came out of the public school and out of a highly-organized orphanage, they really needed a lot of structure. So if you are taking a kid out of the public school, and they are not a super-Creator-type, and they don’t know how to direct their own learning, then you probably need to begin by using Fun-Schooling journals that really honor their experience as Followers. We have a lot of books that are good for Followers, and I’ve made a lot of posts about that that you can find in our Facebook support group.
It turns out that these kids were Followers in the beginning, but now that we are four years into it, they are actually not. The oldest is definitely an Explorer. The next one who is 16 now is completely a Friend Learner. The next one is 14 now and she’s still a Follower and she loves copy work. She just loves it! She really enjoys the more structured journals. She’s got some Creator in her, but I think it was just so squished out of her in her early childhood that she doesn’t have any confidence; but she loves step-by-step YouTube videos that show her how to do something. She’s learning to be really creative in the kitchen that way. Then the next one is 13 and he is definitely an Explorer and a Friend Learner. And the youngest is ten, and she’s changed so much over the past four years, as they all have. I think she’s definitely a Friend Learner, too. After all the neglect and abuse that these kids had been through, they all just love education as a form of bonding. They love collaborating and doing projects together.
I know a lot of you are just starting out on your homeschooling journey and are trying to figure out who your kids are and you have this idea in your mind that successful education is turning your child into a good follower that will be a good employee, and get a degree, and get hired for a good job. Maybe that’s you and maybe that’s not you. Instead of trying to raise kids that will be good followers, it would be better to raise kids who are clever, have great character, who are curious. Kids who are creative and are content creators and entrepreneurs.
It’s fine if you raise kids who are followers who grow up to be awesome employees. We need those kids too. We need people to grow up to do everything. All kids are all different, and moms are all different. Those kids are given to you, to be part of your family because you are the one who is going to work to create the story to help them to become who they were meant to be.