Homeschooling & Home-Learning

     Homeschooling is a brave choice that opens up a world of exciting possibilities for all kinds of families.  By choosing to teach children at home, many parents are demonstrating a commitemnt  to giving their children a chance to think and learn in a manner that is more free and flexible than the traditional school.  Homeschool families are often committed to providing their children with a love for learning by working with the children's personal interests and passions. By learning in the home, parents and children gain the freedom to select the topics, activities and content that inspires and motivates them to become lifelong learners and thinkers. 
     Although homeschool families are diverse in every way, they each have chosen an alternative educational path and they each share the goal of being invested in and committed to their children's educaational success.  Those of us who choose to homeschool want to make sure that our children are prepared to encounter everything that will come their way once their homeschooling journey is over.  Yet nobody knows exactly what the future holds or what special skills and knowledge will be needed by the time our children enter the work world. What we do know, however, is that no matter what the jobs of the future entail, we will all need to be critical and creative thinkers to be able to perform those jobs and to be successful in all areas of life. 
     As parents and teachers, learners and doers,  we need to be active thinkers and problem solvers.  We need to be flexible and critical in the choices we make for our children and for ourseslves.  We need to collaborate and communicate with other families and educational organizations in order to maximize our resources and provide the best educational and social experiences we can for our children.  At the same time, we need to be creative and imaginative with our learning days so that our children remain interested, engaged, and curious about the world around them.  
     For a variety of reasons and circumstances, homeschooling is not an ideal choice for every family.  However, teaching children to think critically and creatively at home and in every area of their lives is soemthing that every family can benefit from. Below you will find resources and ideas for homeschooling and home-learning with a focus on helping children meet the identified twenty-first century skills of critical thinking, creative thinking, communication and collaboration.  Whether or not you have chosen to homeschool your children, or simply are interested in helping your children learn at home in addition to their school learning, these resources can help you to create a climate of thinking and learning in the home that will also serve to strengthen family relationships and increase the amount of quality time spent as a family. Similarly, if you are a teacher working in a school, these same ideas apply to a classroom context where thinking is valued and creativity is nurtured.

For ideas and activities for homeschooling through critical and creative thinking with the Habits of Mind, please check out my book  Habits of Mind for Homeschooling: A Guide for Parents and Teachers

Practicing Problem Solving 

Nurturing Imagination and Innovation

Solving interesting problems is an essential aspect of the learning experience, and one that can be fun and exciting for children of all ages.  The key is to find, adapt and create problem solving activities that are engaging and in line with children's interests. Unfortunately, problem solving often gets a bad rap in schools when problems are not presented in a way that captures the imagination of a child.  When problems are presented as being personal and meaningful, learners automatically become more engaged and motivated in the problem solving activity and more eager to think it through to a solution.  The link below will take you to a page of resources and ideas to stimulate critical thinking through problem solving.
Human beings are natural inventors.  We have survived for millenia through our ingenuity and creativity and children are especially eager to experiment with new ideas and possibilities.  Sometimes schooling leads to a diminishment of imagination and innovation because of a heavy emphasis on obtaining factual knowledge and meeting certain standards.  This does not have to be the case because imagination and innovation can be stimulated during any learning activity.  The link below will give you some ideas for tapping in to the natural curiosity and ingenuity that we are all born with. 

Collaborating Across Cultures

Celebrating Diverse Learning Experiences

We all know that learning can happen and does happen anywhere, but sometimes we do not see the learning possibilities of every day life.  By recognizing that there is more than one right way to do things and more than one right way to think about every issue we face, we give ourselves the freedom to think outside the box and embrace the challenges that come our way.  The link below will take you to a critical thinking community research page that explains the vital role of diversity on critical thinking. 
One of the great benefits of homeschooling and home learning is the ability to travel outside of the traditional school room and learn in a wide variety of contexts.  Even when families do not have the ability to travel, the internet can provide all sorts of cross cultural experiences for learners that offer them a variety of perspectives and ways of knowing. By collaborating with other learners and organizations across the country and across the globe, both children and adults are greatly enriched in their own abilities to think flexibly and critically while gaining opportunties to increase global awareness, and engagement. Design for Change is one movement that provides interesting possibilities for enhancing thinking while increasing global awareness and engagement.