Eclectic Academic Homeschooling

Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, SEA Homeschoolers, Blair Lee,

Eclectic Academic Homeschooling

One question we get fairly often is: What is an eclectic academic homeschooler?

SEA Homeschoolers is an Eclectic Academic Homeschooling Group

The word “academic” in our name, is there to help people decide if this is the right group for them. However, it can be a little messy sometimes, because we are an eclectic academic homeschooling group. An important tenet of eclectic homeschooling is to use the method that works best for your children. And whatever that is, is the best method. Which means we are soft around discussions about methodologies. Every single one of the SEA Facebook Admin is an experienced homeschooler, and we have observed through our own experience and through being around this community for years, that there are a lot of different approaches and methodologies that work. Read on to learn more about eclectic academic homeschooling and contact us today.

Use The Method That Works Best For Your Children

My advice is that when people push about what you should use, take that with a grain of salt. They are simply telling you what works with their child. Under no circumstances does that mean it will work best for yours. It doesn’t even mean it will work best for their children the entire way through. Children change and the method that works best for children to learn from generally changes too. A great question to ask when people push a non-academic path is, “How old is your child?” I know of many cases where someone radically unschooled a 6- or 7-year-old, only to choose a more academic approach as their child aged. And if using curriculum and worksheets is working for you and your child, do not listen to anyone who says derogatory things about that. You are homeschooling your child, and you get to do it your way.

Father helping his daughter with school work.

SEA Homeschoolers Is a Great Place to Discuss Innovative Academics

This group started as a place to discuss innovative academics. I wanted to create a place to talk about how we can take learning and make it something special that promotes and benefits our children’s unique thinking and learning styles. In this group, we see learning as a meaningful and empowering endeavor that is important to engage in to help children on their path to getting to be who they want to be, so they can live their one wild and precious life. We are not an anti-intellectual group. This is not a group that eschews learning. Because of that we do not eschew teaching, either. People are adults a lot longer than they are children. As the founder of SEA Homeschoolers, I believe that an education is an essential component for helping children to get to live the adulthood they want to live. And if you are homeschooling, it is a responsibility you have taken on. I feel strongly that it is important to have places, like this one, where we can discuss innovative, academic homeschooling to help with the nuances, ups and downs, struggles and successes, tips, and advice for meeting the responsibilities of home educating our children.

Mom on a laptop at the kitchen table.

The Curriculum Question for Eclectic Academic Homeschooling

A second, related topic we get a lot of questions about is our stance on curriculum. When I founded SEA Homeschoolers, I had already written several science courses that were then and still are used in our community. I am the primary science author for the R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey line. I have written science curricula and books focused on Project-Based Learning for SEA Press. I have written a book (that is taking forever to get out in publication — but it will be out one of these days) for the National Science Teaching Association. Many of you might not even realize that the founder of this group has written an extensive amount of science curriculum. It should come as no surprise, now that you do know that overall, I think curriculum is essential to ensuring children learn important core information in a way that is adequate and accurate. Generally, curriculum written by people who have experience in the areas they are developing materials for does a better job of meeting those metrics. Even if you just use it as a reference, it is important to know what should be learned and when.

Father working with his son on school work.

Ensuring Your Children Are Learning The Important Foundational Fundamentals

I used curriculum from start to finish while homeschooling my son. Not for every single subject, but for most. I am not an expert in all the areas where my child needed to learn. As the primary person choosing what my child learned, I felt a strong responsibility to ensure he got his information from people who honestly understood what needed to be learned in that area. Sometimes we stuck strictly to the curriculum and followed it exactly. At other times, we used it as a guide for what should be learned and “riffed” off of it, using it for the topics that should be learned, and then learned them in our own way. Does that mean curriculum is always the answer? I am not saying that either. But it is a lot harder to ensure your children are learning the important foundational fundamentals if you do not use curriculum written by experienced professionals.

Kid working on school work at the table.

Did using curriculum and choosing an academic path ruin my son’s childhood? He would not say that, and his opinion is the only one I care about in answer to that question. In fact, last year my child (now 21) thanked me for sticking with academics when he wanted to eschew them. When he was 10 and then 15 and didn’t want to learn math anymore, I told him that was too bad because math was not an optional subject. He just completed his first econ class in college on his way to getting either a Business degree with an environmental engineering focus or an Environmental Engineering degree with a business focus (he is doing an internship this summer where he hopes to figure that out). He would be the first to tell you he is happy his mom didn’t let math be optional. When he was 16 and spent an entire month fighting with me to let him just hang out with friends and not do school, I would not let that happen either. He appreciates that I held the line there as well. As with many eclectic academic homeschoolers, my child had a lot of say about his education in ways that were profound and empowering. What he didn’t have a say over was whether he learned or not, or whether he got a well-rounded education focused on important topics. Those last two sentences, in a nutshell, are at the heart of what eclectic, academic homeschooling is all about.

The Mission and Purpose of Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers

What is the mission and purpose of SEA Homeschoolers? It is to provide a community filled with information, resources, and support to help your family on your eclectic academic homeschooling journey. Its reason for being is a place to discuss innovative learning and academics that empower and facilitate. At SEA Homeschoolers, we recognize what a big responsibility the education of our children is. Along with you, we have chosen to take that on. We do not want you to feel alone. Through our many voices, this community can help you with the heavy lifting of figuring out what your child’s education will look like. At the same time, your child is a unique individual. My final recommendation is that you take the advice that resonates with you and ignore the advice that doesn’t. There is absolutely no one-size-fits-all for learning.

Here is a freebie download from Blair Lee to help you handcraft a secular, eclectic, academic homeschooling journey. To learn more or get started, feel free to contact SEA Homeschoolers.

New to Homeschooling? Check out our How to Homeschool 101 Article.

Want to know what SEA Homeschoolers is about? The SEA Homeschoolers Team collaborated on a list of 27 WE BELIEVE statements so you would know the answer!

The Benefits of Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling

Benefits of Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, Secular Eclectic Academic, Secular Homeschooling, Blair Lee, SEA Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschooling, Ask Blair, 9 fun science activities

The Benefits of Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling

There is a revolution going on in education. The revolution started before the Covid 19 pandemic, but that event took the revolution from a slow burn to an explosion. The revolution is called homeschooling. The homeschool community is fractioned into several cohorts based on how you homeschool and whether you use secular academic (evidence-based) materials and programs or religious ones. Because many of the people coming to homeschooling during and since the pandemic choose it as an option that will best serve their children, not because they are opposed to what is being taught in school, these people tend to join the Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling community. It is this sector of the homeschooling community that is continuing to have the biggest impact on education.

About Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling

In the secular eclectic academic homeschooling community, we pull their children out of traditional school or never have them attend it. Like traditional schools we believe in the importance of academics, however we do not believe in the way the academic subjects are being taught, the testing culture, and/or we disagree with the subjects that are being taught.  For example, I believe there are certain subjects that should be taught less so that there is time to teach subjects such as computer science. (And I am not talking about less time for science or history when I say this!) I think that subjects such as math and some writing could be incorporated into history and science so that there would be more time for these two very important subjects and so that writing and math could be taught in a way that makes them more relevant.

Increasingly, we are also seeing growth in our community in states where political influence is affecting what students are learning in the classroom.  These families are a natural fit for the secular academic community. Neither these families nor secular academic homeschoolers want religious or political biases to dictate what our children learn.

America is a funny country when it comes to academics. We want to be at the top academically when it comes to things like beating Singapore’s test scores (China topped Singapore in 2022 the US came is 23rd) in math or scoring as well on standardized tests as Finland does, but we don’t have a lot of appreciation for academics in most of our communities.

There is a focus on winning and having the top scores on tests, but there is a lack of focus on the sheer beauty of learning. I think the disconnect between school and the inherent beauty of learning comes about because of the misguided focus on “winning” (AKA having the highest test scores) versus getting a good education so you can be intellectually engaged.

I am sympathetic to the constraints placed on schools. Schools have to have performance mandates because they are using taxpayer dollars, and tax payers want to know that their dollars are being well spent. So, testing happens. That is how schools show they are performing well. Most eclectic, academic homeschoolers think there should be less focus on testing and more focus on having intellectual discussions about issues both big and small. Not because they will solve any problems (or maybe they will), but just because they are interesting to engage in. Interesting people have interests; it is that simple.

Benefits of Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, Secular Eclectic Academic, Secular Homeschooling, Blair Lee, SEA Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschooling, Ask Blair, 9 fun science activities

Benefits of Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, Secular Eclectic Academic, Secular Homeschooling, Blair Lee, SEA Homeschoolers, SEA HomeschoolingBenefits of Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschooling

The benefits of homeschooling when there is a focus on academics are impressive. I am blown away by the breadth and depth of learning in the secular eclectic academic homeschooling community, as well as the intellectual engagement and the love of learning. When children are taught in a way that honors how they process and access information, they fall in love with learning. This is not surprising. When we approach teaching in this way, it shows that we value the unique way their brain works. This benefits our children academically. It also benefits their emotional growth. This is something that is important to think about with mental health issues in young people at an all time high.

As the name indicates, secular eclectic academic homeschoolers are academic homeschoolers. Our goal is for our children to be well educated. That, to me, should be the purpose of an education. In addition, as secular academics, the programs and materials we use for learning present facts, theories, principles, and models as recommended by a majority of experts in the field being studied. Unless the subject is philosophy, secular academic materials do not take an individual’s philosophy into account. It is not anti-faith. It is pro-learning with minimal bias from the author’s or publisher’s worldview.

Why We Homeschool

The short answer to why we homeschool is the value we place on learning. We believe there is real value in academics. We also understand the benefits of an education that is innovative and honors the individual. We see the main purposes of an education to be, at the end of it, that a person is well-educated, with the caveat that we define what well-educated means in our house. We also think an education should lead to a person who loves learning and who understands how to learn. We are trying to figure all of this out organically using innovative and eclectic approaches.

The is an updated version of an article I wrote in 2014. At that time there was no SEA Homeschoolers. I was feeling lonely and  looking for a community of people to brainstorm with. So, I put a message out on Facebook.  I thought there were only a few of us. I was hoping to find the 10 other (or maybe there were even fewer, I worried) secular, eclectic, academic homeschoolers out there. The response to my post was overwhelming. There are quite a few more than 10 of us, and we need each other.

Benefits of Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschooling, Secular Eclectic Academic, Secular Homeschooling, Blair Lee, SEA Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschooling

Teen girl working on school work.Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschooling Group

There are two main reasons we need each other. The first is so we can have a community of like-minded people. Homeschooling is done at home with just your family. It can be isolating, especially if you don’t have a support community to help you with this important endeavor.

The other reason eclectic academic homeschoolers need  a group is ironic. Because we want to be innovative and eclectic with our academic homeschooling, there is no book or set of guidelines we can refer to. We are just winging it most of the time. A robust community, like those in the SEA Homeschoolers Facebook Groups, functions similar to a teachers’ lounge. The SEA Facebook communities are a place to strategize and discuss what’s working and get help with what’s not. It is where you can find a co-op or others with whom you can form one.

Surrounded by others who feel the way about academic homeschooling you have a sounding board when you’re figuring things out. You also need a place to come to when you figured it out. This helps others, but it’s also nice just to be able to say, “Guess what wonderful thing my child achieved academically,” and know that these other people are going to be proud of the academic achievements of your child, because like you, they care passionately about academics.

If this post resonates with you, look for the Facebook Group Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers closed group. It is open to any homeschooler or educator who considers themselves a secular, eclectic, academic, who appreciates the value of an academically-rich education that is innovative, and who wants to promote that within our homeschool community. The group is open to people of any faith, or lack thereof, but we do not allow proselytizing. The academics we discuss are secular academic. That does not mean people do not discuss religion within education, but it has to be from the perspective of academics, and all science discussions are strictly secular. I look forward to meeting my fellow secular, eclectic, academic homeschoolers! To learn more, feel free to contact SEA

New to Homeschooling? Check out our How to Homeschool 101 Article.

Want to know what SEA Homeschoolers is about? The SEA Homeschoolers Team collaborated on a list of 27 WE BELIEVE statements so you would know the answer!

Choosing an Educational Game


Choosing an Educational Game

If you decide that educational games might be useful for your child, it might seem like there are way too many things to consider. How popular they are, what themes and subjects to focus on, how recommended they are and so on. And while there are a lot of educational games out there, I hope I can help you narrow down your options — not based on what the games seem like on the surface, but on what type of learning your child will experience when they’re playing.

What is your Child Actually Doing while Playing?

One of the most important things to keep in mind is what your child will actually be doing when they play a game. A lot of educational products have rewarding elements like character customization, pets, apartments, etc., but obviously this shouldn’t be where your child is spending all their time in a game. So it’s good to ask: Are they spending their time problem-solving? Are they engaging deeply on educational subjects? Not just memorizing content, but actually participating in it?

The following story illustrates this quite clearly:

“A teacher once told me that for a fourth-grade unit on the Underground Railroad he had his students bake biscuits, because this was a staple food for runaway slaves. He asked what I thought about the assignment. I pointed out that his students probably thought for forty seconds about the relationship of biscuits to the Underground Railroad, and for forty minutes about measuring flour, mixing shortening, and so on. Whatever students think about is what they will remember.” (Willingham)

Of course, if the teacher’s goal is to practice measuring and cooking, that’s great.  But if their goal was learning about the Underground Railroad, they fell short.  This is because of the key concept: “Memory is the residue of thought.”  This is one of the biggest takeaways from Willingham’s book, “Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom,” which I highly recommend!

So with any material, consider what your child is actually going to be thinking about. What are they going to spend time doing? Because that’s what they’re going to get out of it.

Lower-Order Practice vs. Higher-Order Conceptual

I generally categorize educational games into two groups: Lower-Order Practice and Higher-Order Conceptual Learning. Both have their functions in a child’s learning, so let’s take a closer look:

Lower-Order Practice

Lower-Order Practice is the kind of learning where children answer questions and practice remembering content, but don’t actually learn the concepts or do anything particularly unique with them. For example, a child has to be taught how to do the math problem before they do a math-themed version of this type of game. A Lower-Order Practice game isn’t great for learning the content for the first time or helping them understand the concepts behind it.

And we’ve all seen this type of activity before: glorified worksheets with better-than-average behavioral and motivational science behind them.

I use the term Lower-Order in reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational goals. In Lower-Order Practice games, the activities take place in the lower half of thinking skills:

  • Remember what they’ve learned by recognizing and recalling information;
  • Understand by classifying, comparing, or other activities;
  • Apply by using what they’ve learned on other problems, sometimes in new contexts or slightly harder examples.

I should emphasize that there’s nothing inherently wrong with Lower-Order Practice, because we do need to practice these skills and be able to memorize information. All the hype about how we don’t need to memorize information anymore because we can look everything up on Google is just that — hype.

Math is an easy way to explain why this is important: in general, people can only hold 5-9 items in working memory at a time. Therefore, if you don’t memorize your times tables by the time you get to algebra, it’s hard to have to constantly pause in the middle of solving a problem to do multiplication, as you end up dropping items out of your working memory. In the exact same sense, we can’t perform higher-order thinking skills like creating, connecting points, and being creative unless we already know the basics. So there’s definitely a need for practice and repetition to make sure the basics are mastered.

This form of educational gaming works well across several types of devices: mobile, tablets, and computers, though most Lower-Order Practice games are apps or web-based for quick, in-and-out sessions lasting for a relatively short period of time. For example, the games available at,, and are largely simple practice games. I’ve had teachers tell me that these types of games generally retain their students’ interest for about 10 minutes.

Higher-Order Conceptual Learning

Games with Higher-Order Conceptual Learning use systems, problem-solving, and more in-depth types of gameplay to help the player develop a strong conceptual understanding, and they often use a constructivist approach to learning.

These type of games really take advantage of the power of what games can do, with potentially open-ended systems that let players experiment and get a much better, deeper understanding.

So in Bloom’s Taxonomy, Higher-Order Conceptual Learning has children:

  • Analyze by differentiating, organizing, and attributing as players problem-solve;
  • Evaluate by checking and judging to make decisions;
  • Create to generate hypotheses, plan, design, and produce solutions.

For example, in our game, Tyto Online, players engage in an ecosystem-building Sandbox. They use the basics they’ve learned to analyze their ecosystem, evaluate the evidence to decide what’s causing issues (like, “Why are my jackrabbits dying so quickly?!”), generate a hypothesis (“They have too many predators, or not enough food”), and then produce a solution. Players go through an engaging, iterative cycle of problem-solving and the scientific method constantly during gameplay.

Some of my favorite examples of Higher-Order math games include Motion Math’s games where children do conceptual activities like exploring a number line at various scales; and Dragonbox Learning, where players start by developing the concepts of algebra with balancing puzzles, and then work their way into replacing the symbols with letters and numbers until they’re solving full algebraic equations in the game.

There are even educational games that can enable types of learning that are difficult or impossible to do in real life as a child: build a spaceship with Kerbal Space Program, play with the universe’s physical variables with Universe Sandbox, or create an ecosystem from scratch with Tyto Online.

Session times in Higher-Order educational games are often a lot longer, depending on the game and what your child is exploring. Therefore it makes more sense to use computer installed games or tablets, or at least a setup where your child will feel comfortable playing for 30-60 minutes instead of 10.


For the practical side of timing and devices, consider:

Are you going for “instant” or “active” gaming? One of the most helpful workshops I attended divided mobile & tablet gaming into “instant gaming,” and computer & console gaming into “active gaming.”

  • Instant Gaming: on mobile devices, educational games are grab-and-go, and session times often average only 5 minutes. This can be great for quick reinforcement or other activities.
  • Active Gaming: on consoles or computers, the act of getting set up to play the game can take as long as the entire Instant Gaming experience! Therefore, these sessions are usually much longer and made for replayability, sometimes hours, and can be great for deeper and conceptual learning as players experiment, iterate, and create during their gameplay.

And finally, to assess if a game is right for your child, the main thing I would suggest is:

Consider the outcome you want and compare it to what your child will actually spend their time doing in the game. Are you using the game for practice and review? Do you want to help develop conceptual understanding? Do you want to improve their “21st Century skills,” like problem-solving and collaboration? Does the game help them reach that outcome?

There’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to knowing if an educational game is right for your child with so many options out there that fill many different potential needs. While we mainly focus on developing Higher-Order thinking with Tyto Online, we’ve also built in repetition and opportunities for children to understand the basic knowledge they need in order to get the full experience of the game.

To read more about the learning mechanics we use in Tyto Online, head over to our blog post outlining our approach.

 [button link=”” type=”big” newwindow=”yes”] Tyto Online Group Buy[/button]

Find out more:

Immersed Games (the studio):

Tyto Online (the game):

Lindsey Tropf’s personal twitter: @ltropf

About the Author


Lindsey Tropf, Founder & CEO of Immersed Games, was a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida in School Psychology, with a specialization in Program Evaluation and a Minor in Research & Evaluation Methodology, with expertise in data-based decision making. Her background has led to an expertise in teaching & learning, children’s development, social-emotional health, behavioral management, and executive functions. She now works on strategy and vision, product development, business development, marketing, and anywhere else she is needed at Immersed Games.

The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA

The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CANorton Simon Museum

The kids and I spent the some time recently at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. This is a wonderful, smaller museum that has many great works of art to see. It is also incredibly affordable for families as all children under 18 get in free every day. Adults pay $12.00 each, seniors are $9.00 each, and parking is free.

Norton Simon Museum

The permanent collection at the museum includes an impressive collection of Impressionist pieces by such artists as Degas, Monet, and Renoir – works of art that younger children will most likely recognize and enjoy seeing. There is also art work by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Picasso, and many others.

Norton Simon Museum

Norton Simon Museum

Norton Simon Museum


The other temporary exhibit was Fragonard’s Enterprise: The Artist and the Literature of Travel. Jean-Honoré Fragonard toured through Italy with his first patron and was tasked with making copies of the art work they visited. Fragonard did this through sketching, and these impressive sketches were on display. The twins were most interested in this exhibit and spent a good deal of time studying them all.



At the end of this exhibit the museum had a place where visitors could sit and sketch pieces of art. This was a great idea that my kids loved. The museum provided paper, pencils, and clipboards to work on. The kids spent a very long time working on their art. How nice it is to just sit, study a piece of work, and draw what you see. It was very calming and reminded me that we need to do this more often.

Norton Simon Museum


When you finish sketching you can keep your work or hang it up for others to see. Autry decided to hang her’s up while the boys both wanted to keep theirs.


After exploring inside the museum we went to the sculpture garden outside. Due to the heat we did not stay long. Hopefully we will get back soon to explore it some more as it was very beautiful. We also need to come back to view all the other art we missed including a very impressive asian art collection.



So if you are in the Los Angeles area and you want to visit an affordable museum then I highly recommend the Norton Simon. It surpassed our expectations and was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Norton Simon Museum

Check out our post on visiting Yellowstone here.

Jill HarperJill Harper is a homeschool consultant aiding families on their homeschool journey. She has a bachelors in film studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and completed the multi-subject credentialing program from National University. Jill has been homeschooling her three children for over 12 years and has been blogging about creative homeschooling and her own journey at TAD Town. You can follow Jill on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Best Method to Use Is the One that Works


Blair's pic for articleThe first time I thought about how others learn best was 40 years ago. I went to high school in Conroe, Texas, which is outside of Houston. Our Spanish teacher recruited several of us to volunteer with her church to assist migrant farmers who were illiterate and/or did not speak English. Our job was to help the men learn to read. Working with them was a powerful experience. It is rare for a young person to be made aware of how important knowledge is for adults who don’t have it. Even when parents push you to do well in school, it isn’t the same. They also push you to feed the dog, be nice to your sister, and clean your room. For most kids, myself included, the rationale to do these tasks all seem about the same.

To my knowledge, these farmers were the first people I had ever met who were illiterate. I remember being surprised as a teen when I realized there were adults who could not read. To help adult men learn to read was an eye opening, heart-rending, and rewarding experience, unlike anything I have done in my life thus far. It became a mission for all of us involved in the project to succeed. It was obvious these men wanted to learn something we all assumed all adults could already do. I still remember the wonder I felt by how much they cared about learning. To this day, I have never met another group of people who wanted to learn anything as badly as these individuals wanted to learn to read.

We were just a group of high school kids volunteering. We didn’t know anything about teaching pedagogy. We didn’t realize there were standard ways to teach. Most of us, including me, did not have plans to go into teaching. We were just a group of kids who wanted to help another group of people. We would discuss with each other what was working and what wasn’t. We would talk about strategies that had or had not worked in our own learning. Being teens, we tried to think of new and inventive ways to approach the material.

We realized there was a problem right away. Most of the men did not speak English well, and we didn’t speak Spanish above a high school level. When we got together to discuss what to do about the language barrier, we decided to separate the skills of reading and learning English. We felt it would be easier to teach them as separate skills. We translated simple books from English to Spanish. You can imagine the discussions about whether to use the tilde or not 😉 We finally left it up to the individual “teacher,” although it seemed like such a stretch to call us that. Since each of us was making our own books, and each of us had to teach the material, it was important to us that each of us found the method that worked best for us.

I decided to write the words both with and without the tilde, spelled out right next to each other. It didn’t take long before I realized this made it more confusing. There I was with my very basic Spanish trying to explain that the two words were the same words, except one had the n without the tilde (ñ) which in Spanish was a different letter… but in English really wasn’t because we don’t use the tilde, and…, and… Oh, it was a mess! Funny now, but I was too young to see the humor then.


It also turned out that the men were not happy at all with our decision. They did not want to learn to read in Spanish. They wanted to learn to read and speak English. They began to very politely refuse the Spanish language books. It caused us to pause and rethink what we were doing. These men were wonderful and appreciative to their young cadre of tutors, who were so obviously muddling through it. This was the one and only time they let us know that the method we were using to teach them was not how they wanted to learn. Once we switched back to the English language books the men’s reading skills began to improve rapidly. They were right too; their English language skills improved along with their reading skills because they were learning the English word for dog, for example, in both written and spoken form. Instead of learning to read in Spanish and then speak in English.

The basic problem stemmed from the fact that when we decided on a course of action for how we were going to teach the material, we put the main focus on the task at hand and how best to accomplish it from our perspective, that of the teacher not the student. It was at this time that I came to understand one of the most important lessons for someone who is educating others. “The easiest way to teach something is often not the best way to learn it.” This experience caused me to realize that the best method to use in education is the one that works, and that the focus of that education needs to be on the learner not the teacher.

Are you wondering how this relates to homeschooling? Quite a lot actually. I learned as much from these men as they learned from me. It was through this experience that I came to better understand that the focus in an academic setting needs to be on learning and not teaching. This experience was the first step to my understanding that the focus of my child’s education needed to be on his learning, not on my schedule or on the method that would work best for me. It was during this time that I came to understand that the best method to use when facilitating someone’s learning is the one that works, which has resulted in me being a cherry-picker of parts of teaching methodologies, only using those that work well for my son.

It was while tutoring these men that I came to understand there is no timeline for learning. If the desire to learn something is there, you are never too old to learn it. This helps when I feel nervous when my son doesn’t meet the strictures or the official timeline set up by someone who has never met him. This experience was the first step on my path to learning that the most effective teachers focus on their students learning and use what works to make that happen.


More Articles by Blair Lee, M.S. and Secular Homeschooling

A Handcrafted Education, the High School Years
Learning Science
Keep Calm and Homeschool On

1406266378Blair Lee M.S. is the the founder of Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers. When she’s not busy doing these things, she’s busy writing or working on service projects. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Real Science Odyssey Biology 2 and Chemistry 1, She is currently working on Astronomy and Earth Science 2 for the series.