On an e-mail list about diverse math resources, the listowner mentioned how she often forgets to talk about how critical inspiring her children is in their homeschooling lives, versus requiring, as talked about in A Thomas Jefferson Education. I couldn’t agree more! When she brought this up and then described how that looks in her house, it inspired me to put the words about how that looks in our home, and particularly what was the catalyst to my understanding this concept so early in our homeschooling lives.
I remember reading at the beginning of my homeschool adventure about how we have separated living our adult lives from our children and how they no longer had models from which to emulate. By creating separate institutions for children to congregate in as their means of learning, it suddenly became necessary to require production simply for the lack of meaning or importance connected with the tasks created. As children lived alongside the adults in their life who were engaged in relevant work or passionate causes, it inspired them to want to find their own place to contribute in order to make a difference, stand for something, or have purpose and passion. This is how children emerged into adulthood and their meaningful work for centuries. Thus, it became my goal to adopt this premise into our current modern era.
It took me four years after the birth of my first child, and shortly after the birth of our third child, and right after my hubby graduated university and started his first full-time job, to be able to come home full-time, although my hubby and I always had it arranged for one of us to be the primary caregiver throughout the day up to that point. I loved being a stay-at-home-mom, and it was one of my passions to engage in day-to-day life with my children. However, I have always been a person of many interests to which I aggressively pursued, and that would be my model of inspiration for my children. For instance, I researched the decision to homeschool with gusto and enjoyed the opportunity to learn and grow as I created our own philosophy of education and living together. Although it would benefit my children, they had no personal interest in knowing the intricacies beyond living it, so they observed me reading, questioning, networking, and living with purpose. Over the years, I have taken many opportunities to learn and grow in such activities as spending countless hours serving in various capacities in our church, in the homeschooling community, and in the autism community; nurturing skills like writing, needlework of all kinds, and understanding learning styles; developing traits like leadership, public speaking, and presentation skills; all representations of being engaged in meaningful purpose and work in diverse venues. This describes half of my children’s model for inspiring their own meaningful lives.
The other half is how I facilitated resources and opportunities on a child’s behalf. All of my children’s learning lives, there was a core center from which all focus emerged: their strengths and gifts. As we lived life in the world with each child, interacting with all that is available in the neighborhood and church, visiting local libraries and museums, shopping in grocery stores and toy stores, engaging in celebrations from birthdays to Christmases, a focus from each child appeared. A love of frogs from the backyard for one child; dinosaurs from a book for another; bulldozers from the neighboring construction sites for another, trains from a video for yet another. This became the initial building block of each child discovering his/her purpose and passion.
The foundation for my role for facilitation and inspiration in this area came as a young single adult in a psychology class in college, where my perspective was forever changed by an inspiring professor. As most young people at this stage, I was idealistic and on the cusp of creating my next viewpoint on life as an adult. I was shedding my childish ways and desiring to become mature with refined thinking. My professor was a catalyst in many ways, but he was to provide the paradigm shift on my perspective on how I would relate to children from that time forward when he brought in a video of Leo Buscaglia’s inspirational speeches. Mr. Buscaglia spoke of keeping our child-like natures and outlook in order to embrace all the magic life offers. My professor was a model of this character trait, and I cried as I had been rescued from abandoning what was good from my youth: wonder and excitement, in order to appease the social expectation of adulthood in our society.
I took this new perspective and I approached each interest a child would uncover in the same vein of wonder and excitement as they did. I would offer in eagerness all that I could to enrich their experience with the topic based on how they desired to learn from it. You like sharks? “Look what I found!” in the same sincerity exhibited by Leo Buscaglia as I shared a video about sharks I found at the bookstore on date night. “Did you know the oceans in which sharks swim have names and various attributes that make them conducive environments for each type of shark?” with the same enthusiasm as if it were my own interest. I would specifically share with a child why a resource caught my attention which was always based on an observation I had made about their interactions with an interest. “I noticed you were drawing sharks in comparison to each other in size, and I found this great book that shows the same thing, except compared to humans as well as each other!” I gained their trust and believability when they could easily note that my words did indeed match their actions and desires. In other words, for my second half of inspiration to them, I modeled by walking next to them and experiencing each new piece of information with mindful joy.
I have been blessed to have several poignant people and/or experiences in my life that have inspired me in building to the joyful place I am today. I wanted to pass on the opportunities of receiving inspiration that I had received by offering it to my children by example through living my own life of purpose and passion as a model of life learning, and by partnering with my children in sharing their wonder and excitement with my own sincere enthusiasm through their discovery process of their strengths and gifts through their interests. We live interconnected lives, much like a DNA model, as we come together, flow apart, encircle around each other through support and facilitation to create a beautiful pattern and rhythm of daily living that inspires all to seek their purpose and passion.