Like many people, although Maria would like to be able to homeschool full-time, life has managed to get in the way of that and, not for lack of trying, she has not been able to make it work in her situation.
Instead, a professional educator herself, Maria has concentrated heavily on supplementing the education that her children receive from school and on taking advantage of the time afforded by summer holidays etc. to enhance their learning.
Well aware of the issues with traditional schooling, Maria has worked with homeschooling families on a professional basis to assist them on their journey.
How many children do you have? What ages? Are they all home schooled?
I have 2 children 13 and 14 and they are not home schooled. I have supplemented their learning from the very beginning.
Why did you decide to start supplementing and enhancing the learning that they were doing at school?
I decided to start supplementing when they were born. I love to read and I wanted to instill a love for reading from the beginning. I knew to do that I would need to establish a routine to read to the children every day and every night. I also always played with them, asked them provoking questions from the very beginning. I knew to always ask for and validate their opinions whenever possible.
How would you describe your approach to educating them at home? (Unschooling, School at Home, eclectic, etc.)
My approach is supplementing their learning. I’m always asking thought provoking questions; I allow my children to take a leadership role in their education, but I also feel the need to bring certain issues to their attention they might not otherwise be aware of. My motto is Teach How to Think, Not What to Think.
What is the single best thing you have found about educating them at home?
The best thing about supplementing my child’s education is I enforce that my children have to take charge and be responsible for their education.
There have been times when they have been dissatisfied with their education and I have reminded them that no one is more responsible for their education than themselves. I am not. I have always facilitated by providing the tools and suggestions on how to find information they need. I have also challenged them when appropriate. When they want to give up on a project I remind them that’s when they learn the most, by overcoming difficulties.
What is the single worst thing you have found about your approach?
The single worst thing about my experience supplementing is when my child knows an assignment assigned at school is beneath him or her they refuse to do it.
For example, when my child was given word searches as an assignment he wasn’t doing it. It was hurting his grade. When I spoke to him about it he said, you mean I should stop reading this biography to do this crossword puzzle? While arrogant on my son’s behalf, which he can be at times, he was repeating a concept he has heard me say to the schools previously.
When my child was in the fourth grade he was given coloring to do over Christmas Break. Their extended breaks was when I did a lot of my supplemental learning. I was frustrated he couldn’t write my essays because he had to color. When I went to the school I expressed my concern that this coloring is not only beneath him but it was also taking away from my supplementing which was much more appropriately rigorous.
What words of advice do you have for someone just starting out, or thinking about starting out?
If I was starting out I would encourage a parent to seek out different educators. I became an educator as a second career and I know I wouldn’t know what to do to encourage higher order thinking without my experience as an educator. I am available for any New Jersey readers for private consulting and book groups.
What do you enjoy doing to create a bit of ‘me time’ in your day or week?
I love to read, I meditate and I love to take walks and be outside on my porch.
Do you blog? If you do, what is the address for that?
My blog address is studentledlearning.com and I do blog about my theories on supplementing your child’s education.
What would you like people to know about you?
I’m an avid reader, educator and I am passionate about the future of my children and the future of our next generation. I do feel the current education system is not educating our children and preparing them with higher order thinking; but rather than get angry, take control of what your child is missing. I gave up trying to change the system and I decided to just take charge and control what I can.
Any final thoughts you would like to share?
I would like to recommend parents balance allowing your children to take leadership in their education but the parents should be the ones to challenge and provide additional insight, especially when the child thinks they have all the answers, which seems to happen when they are teenagers.
If you have any additional questions I would love to help.