My oldest two children, Konur and Elleina, and I recently returned from a trip to Nashville for the Christian Worldview Film Festival (where the movie they were in/helped with, The Stolen Life, was one of the selected films) and one of the highlights of the trip was the five-hour non-stop conversation we had about every topic imaginable on the seven-hour drive there.
Literally. We talked for five hours straight with no breaks!
A Journey in Conversation
- As we left the Charlotte area and headed up through Asheville, we talked in-depth about theology and Biblical worldview and why we believe certain things that we do.
- We continued on through the Great Smokey Mountains and talked about our life experiences (mostly trials) and how they have grown us spiritually and matured us in ways we could not have imagined.
- We talked about writing and plot lines (in the context of film) as we traversed more of Tennessee, and how sharing the Gospel in this medium must be done in a delicate, non-preachy way.
- We delved into music theory and analyzed composers as we listened to my son’s favorite playlist somewhere close to Knoxville. (Despite never having taken any formal classes, he has a broad knowledge of the topic and skills in music composition, all self-taught.)
- And then it was on to art talk and looking up some famous artists (my daughter did…I was driving. Haha!) like Cezanne (“Oh, I like his work!”) and Jackson Pollack. (“WHY is this good art, mom?!”)
- We talked about history as we neared Nashville. (Okay, so Elleina in her chronically-tired-brained state initially thought the Hermitage might be some sort of unique housing situation for people prone to introvert tendencies. And as a classic knee-jerk homeschool-mom reaction, I quickly quizzed her on the name of another famous estate just to validate myself. “Monticello”! Whew…thank you Thomas Jefferson! So I’m not a failure at teaching history…even though I don’t even really remember teaching her that.)
And the whole time, I was mulling over ideas for this blog post. Why DO we lifeschool, anyway? How do I put all the beauties of lifeschooling into a nutshell?
Why Do We Lifeschool?
I mulled it over some more, mid-conversation. “Hey kids, I remember learning years ago about many heroes from history that we assume were grown adults when they made a name for themselves…like Alexander the Great, who was only 18 when he conquered other kingdoms or some of the founding fathers who were teenagers when they signed the Declaration of Independence.
That would be a great jumping-off point for that blog post I am going to write, wouldn’t it?”
Our verbal meanderings then turned to George Washington, who avoided being shot down off his horse by a British soldier who was so captivated by his graceful, dancer-like manner with his horse, due to Washington’s keen interest and skill in dancing.
He was not, however, at all educated in the formal sense. Yes, the Washington was not formally educated, yet achieved much more in the way of accomplishments than most of us ever will!
And anyone reading any of his writings would certainly not call him uneducated!
What is “Good” Education?
The list goes on and on, forcing us to really contemplate what a truly “good” education looks like. It might look like what the Greeks had…which was not school at all, but much closer to lifeschooling! And yet we all know how successful the Greeks became with their learning through life approach.
(That is a topic for another time, but one well worth your study.)
I posed a question we’ve chewed on before…that if you knew your child was going to grow up to be a Mozart, Da Vinci, or even a Steve Jobs, would you really be so worried about all the things society says we “must” teach or would you be more interested in developing that special gift into something world-changing as soon as possible?
Because I contend that within each child is such a world-changing gift if we would only give them the time and resources to develop it now before they have all the time-sucking responsibilities and burdens of “real life”!
We had a good conversation about that topic, as well, and they were reminded once again of how privileged they are to have the freedom and responsibility to pursue their own passions basically unhindered.
(Not that there have never been subjects or skills we haven’t forced on them. Even “Da Vincis” need some business skills!)
And I could digress here about how that freedom sometimes forces them on a different path if your children struggle with health issues like my daughter has.
Due to adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues, she has had to dive deeply into “tired-brain-friendly activities” and become an expert in art and music (you can find her on Instagram @givemeenchiladas) rather than her preferred subjects of math and sciences like genetics.
An Organic Part of Our Lives
What always fascinates me about lifeschooling is how it is so organic and a part of our lives, whether or not we take notice. It is happening all the time, and if we simply learn how to change our mindset and live in each moment, looking for what’s really happening, we see that we are educating in so many little ways throughout each daily journey.
When we then keep a record of it, it becomes even clearer how much we are actually accomplishing!
A perfect example of this is the very trip we were taking. Our family has always had a bigger focus on movies because Family Movie Night was something we had to make very important.
My husband’s Lyme disease made the “little” things, like going out as a family on the weekends, rare treats for us.
When the kids were young, I had to decide to either focus on that fact or we could make the best of it and find something else to bond over that would even allow my husband to fall asleep if need be.
Thus, Family Movie Night, with homemade pizza, fresh popcorn, and fizzy drinks (Kombucha for me!), was born and practically became sacred to the kids.
We learned a lot about movies, acting, and what makes a good plot line simply from watching so many.
And over the years, God brought more and more personal connections and a “pull” to this arena, leading to my daughter playing a role in the Kendrick-produced movie, Like Arrows, and my son starring in his friend’s movie, The Stolen Life, that we were on the way to see on the big screen!
This is Why We Lifeschool!
At the very end of the journey of conversation, I had to come back to one thing: relationship.
Yes, we lifeschool because there is educational value in everyday life. We lifeschool because we want our children to find their God-given gifts and use them most effectively for Him, even now.
We lifeschool because as hard as I try, I am just not organized and will always be more of a “go with the flow” person.
We lifeschool because it brings joy and peace to every day. But mostly, we lifeschool because of that 7-hour car ride filled with deep, meaningful conversations that actually prove the value of exactly what we are doing.
Standardized testing? This was a 7-hour exam of our methods and philosophy over the past 19 years, in the context of relationship.
And they passed with flying colors.
They not only demonstrated a broad range of knowledge, beyond-their-ages maturity (even for homeschoolers), and good communication skills, but they proved that we have a priceless gift that no amount of education, drilling, or testing can instill into a child.
This, my friends, is why we lifeschool. We lifeschool to have deep relationships with our children and to see them develop their own deep relationships with others and most importantly, with the Father.
And this is why you should lifeschool, too.
This post was written by….
Danielle Papageorgiou has been homeschooling, or “lifeschooling,” for 19 years (she counts birth as day 1!) and has run the Lifeschooling Conference for the past 10. She has a passion for helping other homeschoolers learn how to homeschool in a way that does not compete with family life, but actually enhances it…homeschooling done in a spirit of freedom, not legalism. You can find her blogging at www.lifeasalifeschooler.com and, if you must know (since it seems popular to state one’s opinion on hot drinks), she is ambivalent towards coffee, but hopes you won’t hold that against her.
This article is a part of our How We Homeschool Series; a collection of content from full-time, veteran homeschoolers sharing their own experiences on the versatility and diversity of homeschooling.