Homeschooling for Lifelong Learning

One of my greatest goals in homeschooling my children is to encourage a lifelong learning mindset. I often become my own biggest stumbling block to the process though. I fall back on the stuff I know. Teacher {mom} driven instruction, and rules, structure, and lectures.


Homeschooling to encourage Lifelong Learning


I so needed to hear Laura Grace Weldon speak tonight.

Have you read the book, Free Range Learning? Or checked out her blog at I’ve read both, and suggested many of the same philosophies she embraces to readers, colleagues, and friends who value lifelong learning.

But living the day-to-day life of a homeschool mom of many with bright and scattered children has been w.e.a.r.i.n.g. me down.

And then, I heard her say these words {which I have since made into a graphic, printed out, laminated, and hung in my kitchen} “make your homeschooling about fascination rather than instruction.



Those words resonated with me in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.

All too often I fall back on my background – attending and teaching in traditional public schools – when I approach homeschool with my kids. I push aside their passions and push ahead my own.

Can you relate?

Lifelong learning isn’t about following a prescribed plan or curriculum, it’s about knowing how to ask questions and seek out one’s own answers.

I tweeted Laura’s words, and several friends asked what a homeschool based on fascination would look like. I’m a pragmatist, so I’ll say up front that a homeschool like this will look incredibly different for each family.

But homeschools built on a child’s fascination will each have the same root – a parent in tuned to her children. A parent courageous enough to throw the plan away and go with the flow. A parent who encourages her children to develop and pursue their passions.

For us that would mean:

  • helping my son acquire the materials he needs to build the burning laser he’s been planning.
  • laying out circuitry and soldering books, along with materials for him to experiment with.
  • getting my daughter enrolled in the piano and singing lessons she so desperately wants.
  • keeping art supplies handy for both my daughters and letting them create when they want – not when we get to it.
  • making time each week for my son to go to his grandfather’s house each week to work on the model train layout with “the train guys” that come to his basement each week.
  • getting outside more.
  • hiking and discovering the things that each new season brings to our area.
  • letting go of the perception that there are “must-haves” and “must-dos,” and getting on with living the lifelong learning lifestyle.

Is it easy?


It’s so challenging to let go and relax, especially when your kids are tough and you worry that they won’t ever be successful. You want to do all that you can to help them.

And that help can be misguided. In her talk, Laura shared a story that seriously struck home. She talked of regrets with her oldest. Of withholding what he wanted most until he finished his “work,” and how she wished she’d just let him do the things he was interested in, instead of forcing structure.

His passion at the time? Working on model trains with an elderly friend.

And why did that strike me so hard? Trevor has been able to talk trains forever. He loves them, and wants nothing more than to tinker as often as possible. He comes by the love honestly, as my father-in-law is a train guy. In fact, a group of train guys comes to his house once a week to work on his huge layout and have lunch.

And Trevor wants to be there. Every week.

Since it’s an hour away, it doesn’t happen every week, but we’d been having him go overnight once or twice a month. Trevor and his grandpa stay up late talking history or politics, watching old sitcoms or documentaries, or playing board games.

And the next morning, the train guys arrive and he builds alongside them, taking in their talk and jokes, and learning.

Like Laura, I’ve withheld this experience from him because he’s been difficult around the house. Going to Grandpa’s has become hinged on how well he does my work or follows my rules.

But, in actuality, I’ve taken away the fascination.

It’s time to bring it back.

So, I needed these words from Laura Grace Weldon this year. I ‘m driven, as another day has gone by without me pulling out the chalk pastels, drawing supplies, or science equipment, to bring back the passion and fun into our homeschool and our lives.

I’m motivated anew to spark a philosophy of lifelong learning in our home.

What would homeschooling for lifelong learning or homeschooling for fascination look like to you and your kids?