• Leslee Dirnberger

Redefining Education for Your Family

The Discovery Year Boot Camp is here to help you learn the additional options you have for educating your children. This year of uncertainty within schools due to COVID can become a year of discovery for you and your family. You are embarking on a phenomenal journey! I get how scared and/or excited you might be. I am here to encourage you to sit back and take it all in. You can do this!


I am a mom of four amazing kids, and I had those four kids in four years. Not only can it be done, you will be eternally grateful for the time and experience of watching your kids grow into thriving, happy, productive young adults.


This series of Boot Camp posts and videos are an invitation and an opportunity to do something for one year! You can do anything for one year! We have been referring to this year as a Discovery Year, and if you are looking for ways to discover more options for your child's education then you should join our Facebook group.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiscoveryYearCommunity


I never imagined that I would homeschool. Before considering homeschooling I was in my children’s school multiple days a week, was a VP on our PTA, headed up Committees, and wrote a monthly article in our newsletter. I was completely involved, and I know we had to make a change. I just didn’t know what.


A small book I found at our public library made me realize that I was already, in essence, homeschooling my children; my husband and I never stopped discussing, sharing, guiding, and playing with our kids. We were, however, frustrated that we felt we had to ‘reprogram’ our children every weekend, and they were not progressing at the rate they needed to be. I did not want to watch as the ‘light’ of curiosity and joy of discovery faded even more. We knew we had to make a change.


When people say, “Oh, you must have always wanted to homeschool”, I can’t help but laugh! I am an attorney and I’ve never been the mom who sewed her own clothes or grew her own food! Naturally my rapid reply sounded like, “Wait, What! Are you kidding?! I never imagined I would homeschool!” Traditional school was just not working for me, my kids, or my family.


(P.S. -I am a terrible sewer so that still isn’t a reality, but I do love to garden!)


I cannot express strongly enough how glad I am that we chose to homeschool our children. It’s really cool when you can say you like spending time with your kids! I realize, though, that long term homeschooling is not for every family. Whether you are homeschooling for the year or making the transition to long term homeschooling, I will provide you with a process, the one I use with my clients, to help you build out an amazing year of learning!


Alongside each of these posts is a video from our Discovery Year Boot Camp, I would encourage you to watch those videos on our YouTube Channel at http://bit.ly/DiscoveryYearBootCamp We will be talking about everything when it comes to educating your family. IF you follow this process I promise you that you will discover you are the best teacher, advocate, and mentor for your child. It may be difficult at times, but it is completely possible, and definitely worth it!


In John Taylor Gatto’s Book Dumbing Us Down he writes, “When you take the free will out of education, that turns it into schooling.” (http://bit.ly/3crajl4) This 30 year veteran teacher and a NY State teacher of the Year, became an AVID supporter of homeschooling. He likened our schools to prison for our children. We have created an atmosphere of pleasing others, perfectionism, and shame, not one of learning, discovery, and joy.


This book and Mr. Gatto’s other book, The Underground History of American Education, are excellent resources to understand how our school system evolved, and how ineffective they are in creating creative, innovative, critical thinking leaders. These books and what you will learn through this series will help you further your child's education no matter where they go to ‘school’.


Step One: Define What a ‘Good Education’ Means to You


In order to move forward and discover the best options for your family, you need to sit down and think about what ‘education’ means to you. What does a ‘Good’ Education look like to you? Most people have not taken the time to really define this, and now that so many people are faced with decisions regarding HOW their child will learn, it is vital that you think more deeply about this. Does that mean challenging academics? Life Skills? Critical thinking? Online or books? Time to sleep and dream? Travel? Internships?


Education is not ‘school.’ School, in whatever form you choose, is simply a framework, a means in which to educate. Education is how learning happens!


The key is instilling in our children a desire to learn and a curiosity to explore. It’s all about learning and the love of learning. As parents we often don’t get to know the results of the decisions we make for our kids until many years later, but I want to assure you that the time you spend investing into your kids now will pay off exponentially! When my daughter was recently hired for a prestigious, long term, paid internship it was what they told her after she was hired that brought tears to my eyes - they were impressed with her ability to communicate, her organizational skills, and her obvious love of learning! There are no kinder words to hear for a Mama, especially a Homeschool Mama.



Step Two: Establishing Family Values


Next, it is important to sit down as a family and think about your family values. This is foundational to the process of building out any education plan for your children. Understanding your values allows you to prioritize your activities, your curriculum choices, helps to curb ‘shiny object syndrome’, and provides a moral focus for the decisions you make as a family. Maybe your values are faith, listening, sharing, adventure, or even learning with others. Whatever you decide AS A FAMILY, let these be the guide by which you evaluate your choices.


Here is a process for you to follow in determining your Family’s Core Values.


Remember, as you make your educational plan as a family, the goal is to be able to review the plan every couple of years as your family continues to learn and grow.


  1. Brainstorm as a whole family, including the littles!

Sit together and list off all of the values you all find important. This list can be long, feel free to just list all that comes to mind. (ex. Adventure, faith, individualism, listening, leadership).

If you have a whiteboard - use it!

  1. Once you have your huge list, each member of the family should write down their personal top five on their own piece of paper.

  2. Look at everyone’s list and create your family values list.

Everyone has to agree so this may take some conversation.

I suggest five values but you can choose to do more or less, but have a minimum of three.


Now post your family values! Everyone should put the values on an index card and put it up somewhere where you will see it every day!


Have your littles draw pictures, or just write the words colorfully. Create a graphic using Canva; paint each value on a reclaimed piece of wood; or you could find those words in magazines and put them up around the house: over doorways and on the walls.


Surround yourselves with those values, literally and figuratively.


For additional guidance we have created a FREE Family Values Worksheet for you!

Family Values
.pdf
Download PDF • 69KB


Step Three: Learning Styles


Each of us have different strengths and weaknesses, this means we are each unique in the way that we learn also. We don’t just learn in one style, we often favor one or two styles of learning, but many of us have a dominant one. The goal is to tailor the learning and to teach in the primary style for each child as much as possible.


Discovering learning styles can also help identify giftedness and learning disabilities, or holes in their education. Often children can be highly intelligent in one area and struggle in another, what is called ‘2E’ or Twice Exceptional. The “they will all catch up” mentality that parents often hear in traditional school is not helpful for successful learning. Once given the tools to learn, your children will be able to work through their harder subjects and tasks more easily. Something to consider if you feel that your child is pretty smart, but struggles in a particular area, is to get a Neuropsychologist evaluation. It can save you so much time, money, and heartache when you know that your child is not ‘being hornery or bad’, but is genuinely struggling!


VARK (1992) is the most widely utilised and studied learning styles system. The styles of learning are: Visual (picture, diagrams, graphs); Auditory (listening, music, rhythms); Read/write (reading, taking notes) Kinesthetic (hands on, use body, touch),


Other learning style evaluations may include: verbal or speaking (visual/ aural), social or interpersonal (group work), intrapersonal or solitary (self study), and logic/thinking (systems, logic, sequences).


You can take the test through the Educational Planner, this test has a separate assessment for parents and students. We suggest this test for children age 4 to 11 and parents. https://bit.ly/3hV2P1e


You can also take the assessment from NC State. We suggest this test for children 12 and older as well as parents. https://bit.ly/3mIldOt


Setting up an educational plan for your family that is tailored to learning styles will help each child learn in a way that is best for them. The educational system is tailored to a narrow segment of the population, which affects the ability for each child to learn in a way that is best for them. No matter what you do after this year of discovery these tools will help your family learn well and even enjoy learning!


I believe that this year can be a wonderful year of discovery for you and your family! You can grow closer as a family, and understand that YOU are the most equipped person to teach your children!! This year can help your kids know who they are, identify their gifts, and understand how they learn best! You can do this! Remember to breathe and enjoy this time with your children!


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