On lockdown? Let’s chat about some simple ways that we can learn at home! You won’t want to miss this one—listen in, I know you’ll be encouraged!
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Luke 20:39-44
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Hey, everybody. This is Heidi St. John, welcome to the podcast. How are you guys doing? How are you doing? I hope you’re doing good. I am excited to be here. Today’s episode number 902. And now that the entire nation’s on lockdown, we’re going to talk about some simple ways that we can learn at home. This is going to be a great episode, you guys. Tune in, share it with your friends! Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So many things happening in the culture right now. You guys heard me tell you last week that the events that were scheduled for maybe this week have been canceled. Teach Them Diligently in Rogers, Arkansas and also the Downline Institute that I was going to be speaking at in Little Rock, those events have both been postponed and Teach Them Diligently in Waco. I know that there’s an online event happening really quickly, so stay tuned for that. You can watch my Facebook page. So many of these things are changing moment to moment to moment. So sometimes by the time this podcast gets to air, in rapidly changing situations like this, things have gotten a little bit different.
So I just want to encourage you guys. Continue to pray for people who sell homeschool materials for a living, people who speak, like I do, curriculum providers, especially the smaller organizations, the sort of the mom-and-pop organizations and businesses. They’re really taking a hit right now. And if you know that you’ve got homeschool supplies to buy, I hope that you will do that and continue to support these wonderful people who have been really pioneers in the homeschool movement.
So speaking of homeschooling, speaking of homeschooling, you guys, wow, am I getting awesome questions from you. I really am. By the way, you can find out a whole bunch of new things that I’ve been working on at learnathome.today. Did you guys know that was a domain? It is. learnathome.today. You’ll see videos up there from me, all kinds of links to fantastic homeschool supplies, and anything to help you kind of learn at home.
But, I’m excited about that because it’s really my heart to sort of encourage you here, and I’m going to do that today. We’re going to talk about learning at home, and we’re going to talk about really specifically starting in homeschooling and starting to learn at home. I know a lot of people are doing that right now. They didn’t necessarily want to do it. I didn’t want to do it either, but the Lord really asked me to do it. So in some ways, those of us who have been on this learn-at-home adventure with our kids for lots of years now, God’s using us to really offer help.
In some ways, I kind of liken it to Joseph when God called him to … Well, He didn’t call him. Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit. Then he went through prison, and then God showed him what He had planned and purposed for his life all along, which was to help God’s people through a famine. And in some ways, I kind of think that’s what those of us who have been homeschooling for a long time have an opportunity to do right now, and that is to say, “Hey, everybody. Don’t be afraid. This isn’t as hard as you think it is, and I’m just going to encourage you.”
So let’s jump right in. For those of you who have friends who are brand new to learning at home, this is a great opportunity for you to share this podcast. I’m going to go through some things I like to call learning at home for rookies. The first thing we want to do is remember that what you’re doing really is just discipling your kids. When we talk about learning and we talk about education, it really is discipleship, right? And when we think about learning, we always think, “Oh, reading, writing, and arithmetic.” But what it really is is Luke 6:40. “When a student is fully trained, he’ll be like his teacher.” So education has always started at home. And what you’re doing right now might be different than what you used to doing, but it’s just adding another layer to it and it’s really not that hard, okay?
So if you just have your kid at home, couple of things to remember, homeschooling and traditional school are not the same thing. Learning at home is not like learning in a classroom environment. I would argue that it’s better. I think it’s better. I want to just encourage you to not compare yourself to your child’s classroom experience because comparison steals your joy and it’s going to set you up for some unrealistic expectations, I would say, maybe even an expectation that’s going to remain unmet because it just wasn’t what God was doing. So don’t compare yourself to what you did or what your child did in school.
You guys can learn at home and still miss the most important thing. Did you know that? The most important thing is the heart of your child? Relationships will always trump academics every single time. So I’m going to really, really work hard at simplifying learning for you today. Because the main things we want to do is focus on relationships. I see this as an incredible opportunity for families to get healthy again, right? So while the world is talking about getting sick from a virus, I think that God’s going to do an amazing healing in families and bringing the hearts of parents back to their children. So relationships Trump the ABCs every single time. If you’re trying to sit down and read a book with your kid and he’s a brat, stop reading the book and address the heart of your child. This is the most important thing that you will do as parents, all right? And you got to understand that it’s not … You already are teaching your child.
So let me tell you what makes a good teacher. Are you ready? This is so exciting. First thing, passion for the student. Do you have passion for your kids, mom and dad? You’re well on your way to being a good teacher. It takes love. It takes courage. It takes determination. So have confidence.
I already know because I know a whole bunch of you listening to this are like, “Well, I think I can.” No, you absolutely can. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Have a passion for your kid, all right? I know that you already do. Love, courage, determination.
I want to talk about some nuts and bolts things with you for just a few minutes, and I’m going to start by talking about learning styles because you’re going to have … And we’re going to focus just on math and reading, all right? And I’ll tell you why in a minute. Homeschooling shouldn’t take you more than maybe an hour and a half a day. I know you’re like, “What?” Because you’re so used to your kids getting on a bus and being gone or dropping your kid off at school at eight in the morning and picking up at three. You don’t have to do that with homeschooling. Learning at home is a lot quicker because you’re not having to wait, do bureaucratic red tape, or worry about anything that has to do with crowd control. We’ll call it crowdsourcing, right? This is just you and your kids or however many kids you have at home, and so it’s a whole lot easier than people make it out to be.
So it’s really cool if you know how your child processes information. Basically, there are three styles of learning. There are visual learners, tactile or kinesthetic learners, meaning they learn by movement, and there are auditory learners, meaning they learn primarily through hearing.
All right, so let’s talk about visual learners right now. And I’m going to have the stuff up online, too. You can find me teaching this and actual videos at learnathome.today. You can go there. I mean, goodness sake, go there. You can go there right now if you want to because I’m going to teach the same material only I’m going to have slides for you. Some of you really need that, all right, because you’re like me, you’re a visual learner.
I’ve got a theory about visual learners. So if you’re a good speller … I was always a great speller. And I have to admit, I was pretty prideful about it because I was like, “That’s right. I’m getting As on all my spelling tests.” Well, I have come to understand that a large part of the reason I’m a good speller is because I’m a visual learner. And if you’re a good speller, probably you’re spelling the word correctly because you remember how it looked on a piece of paper.
So visual learners, these are the kids that they want to read out loud to you, mom, not because they necessarily love to read out loud but because they’re processing information through taking it in through their eyes, all right? Visual learners love to have highlighters, pictures, charts. They love to be the one who reads out loud. Visual learners need eye contact. So make sure that when you’re giving your kids instructions you kind of of put your phone down and give them some instruction. They’re going to pick it up really fast, all right?
Auditory learners, these are the kids who learn best through hearing. So while a visual learner might want to read to you, your auditory learner is going to want you to read to them. Auditory learners need listening opportunities. They will often learn very well through songs and rhythm. Auditory learners need to repeat things out loud. I think that all of the kids that I have taught in our home, all seven of them, I have two very obvious auditory learners. I have one who’s definitely a kinesthetic learner, and the rest of them are all visual learners. I like to pair up the auditory learners with a study buddy because they just need that interaction, all right? It’s so good for him to have somebody that they can study with.
Now, a tactile learner or a kinesthetic learner is going to need a couple of things. They need frequent short breaks. These are the kids who cannot seem to sit still. And oftentimes, these are the ones that drive, especially brand new homeschool moms, crazy. So let’s say your kid’s at home and you’re not used to having them home. And a lot of times … Mom and dad, can we just be honest? You’re not used to parenting your children like this, and you can do it. A tactile learner is a kid who … A lot of us think, “Well, he’s just being disobedient or he’s being disrespectful,” but really he just needs to move.
I learned this lesson with my son Skyler when he was about seven years old. Skyler’s like 22 years old now. But a long time ago when I was first trying to understand this whole learn-at-home concept and figure it out, I had this very wiggly, very easily distracted kid who I was just like … thought I’m going to go crazy. I don’t know how I’m going to teach you at home. Well, a friend of mine said, “Heidi, I bet he’s a kinesthetic learner.” I thought, “No, there’s no such thing as that.” Because when I was in school, if you fidgeted to the point where my son was doing, they sent you to the principal’s office, or you got in trouble, or you got to sit in the corner, whatever. She said, “Heidi, give him something to do while you’re reading out loud to your kids and see what happens.” Okay, I’ll try anything once.
So I got a big thing of LEGOs for my son, and I said, “You can play with LEGOs while I’m reading.” I was reading some missionary stories. We were reading Bible stories. We were reading stories from some science textbooks that I really, really liked that I thought were interesting. Skyler had such a hard time sitting still so I gave him his big bin of LEGOs to look at, and that kid looked at me like he had just won the lottery. I really think that he thought, “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. My mom is going to let me play LEGOs while she reads to me.”
And you guys know what? I was teaching the kids about early American history. We were studying Thomas Jefferson at the time, and I thought there’s no way Skyler’s listening to me because while I was reading he was building. And at the end, I asked him questions about what I read. And you guys, he answered every single one of them.
So if you’ve got a kid who can’t sit still, give him a bucket of LEGOs. Give him some Lincoln Logs. Give him wherever you call that, that putty. Well, maybe don’t do it on the carpet. Ask me how I learned that lesson. But, see what happens if you let them just move around while you’re reading to them.
I think there’s a big difference, by the way, between letting your kid play quietly and having them be disruptive. That’s a totally different thing. But if you have a kid who can’t sit still, if you have a kinesthetic learner, then they need frequent short breaks. They also need highlighters, but for different reasons. So your visual learner will want to highlighter because he or she might want to highlight in the book what they read. The kinesthetic learner needs a highlighter because it gives his hands something to do, all right? They need creative options for learning, different study positions, and they’re not going to go away to college doing that. Trust me.
So I want to just encourage you, I really wish that someone would’ve told me about discovering the learning styles of my kids 20-some-odd years ago. I think our lives have been a lot easier. I’m going to link back to my favorites in the show notes today, books on how you can discover your child’s learning style that you can find on Amazon, online tests for your kids and even for yourself. If you’re familiar, mom, with your learning style, I promise you you’re going to learn a lot about yourself, and I promise learning’s going to become a whole lot more fun. So get to know your learning style.
Let’s talk about curriculum for just a minute. Three things you want to ask yourself when you choose a curriculum. First thing is, does it overwhelm me? If it does, walk away. Does it fit my learning style? So for example, if you know you have a kid who is a visual learner, they’re stimulated by pictures, and charts, and things like that, you don’t want to pick up a big book that looks like an encyclopedia or a telephone book, all right? So does it fit our learning style? And then the last question I always say when it comes to choosing what we’re going to use, am I choosing it out of fear? Did someone say, “This is the Holy Grail of learning at home. Choose A, B, and C curriculum because this is what’s going to get your child into Harvard”? No, no, no. You don’t want to do that.
So if you choose it, it should not overwhelm you, it should fit your learning style, and it should just make your heart sing. When you look at it, you think, “I cannot wait to read that to my kids,” or, “I can’t wait to explain how to do this,” or whatever, right? That’s when you know you’re going to be successful, all right?
Curriculum doesn’t have to be expensive. I will link back to a ton of stuff. And you can go to learnathome.today for more videos on me teaching this stuff and lots of wonderful links and all those kinds of things. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You guys might try something and it doesn’t work. And if it doesn’t work or you hate it, quit doing it and look for something different, all right?
And curriculum is not always necessary. I’m going to do a quick rabbit trail right now and I’m going to talk about homeschooling preschooler. So I’m talking to all of you who have young children and you’re just starting to learn at home with them. You’ve started on this grand adventure. Maybe you were on the fence before the coronavirus and now the school district has made up … The school districts decided for you. Maybe that’s you. And you’re sitting there thinking, “Boy, I just … I don’t know. What should I do?”
And you feel like you have to do something for your five-year-old, or your four-year-older, or … If your kids are five and under, unless they’re just dying to do something, don’t do anything. These are what I like to call the wonder years. If you’ve got a three-year-old at home, we need to stop worrying about what curriculum to pick. Go out in the backyard and push over the heaviest item that you can find. And whatever crawls out from underneath it, run inside and Google it and you’re done. This is the opportunity for you to instill a love of learning in your kids. You can take a cookie sheet and fill it with rice and let them practice circles and squares and beginning letters if you want to.
But, this idea that our kids have to be schooled from the time they’re two years old I think is, well, A, it’s ridiculous and B, it’s no fun. And it’s putting an awful lot of pressure on you and I don’t think you need it. So I would say … I’m going to just say—say no to preschool. You don’t need to do it, all right? Don’t worry about whether or not your three-year-old knows all their colors and their shapes. They are going to learn it, all right?
I’m going to encourage you to start very, very simple. You really just need some reading and do some math facts with your kids every day, and you’re going to have this thing nailed down, all right? So if someone says, “Oh my word. School’s canceled. Now all of a sudden you’re at home,” you don’t have to do history, and spelling, and language, and prepositions, and schedule field trips, even though no one’s open. You can’t even take one right now. But you know what I’m saying.
So very, very simple. Three things I want you to do. Are you ready? Find some really great books that you want to read with your kids. You can read My Father’s Dragon. Those are a great series. Our kids loved them over the years. You could read C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, any of the missionary stories I’ve linked to a hundred times here at the podcast, which I super love. You can find educational things to watch on YouTube. There’s a ton of them. If your kids are looking at something outside, and you go, “Oh, man, that’s interesting,” or they bring you a flower, you can look up the flower on the internet. I mean, there are so many avenues for learning in the culture right now. It’s almost unbelievable to me how many opportunities there are.
And one of those opportunities is from my friends at Bob Jones University Press. I told you guys last Friday on the podcast that they’ve been planning an online event for some time, and I’m going to be a part of it. I’m really looking forward to it. The days we’ve got right now are April 20th through the 24th. And during the online event, you guys are going to be able to interact with experienced homeschool moms like myself and the phenomenal BJU Press staff. And let me tell you guys, these reps will personally walk you through any questions that you have. And if you decide to make a purchase, that same person is going to help you with your selection. Talk about customer service.
It’s very, very simple. So anyone can do this. Registration is easy and best of all it’s free. You can find me at homeschoolhelp.com/heidi. Lots of information there, all right? So get ready April 20th through the 24th. You guys, it’s going to be a great event. I can’t wait to see you there. And be encouraged. God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear but of power, and love, and a sound mind.
So the three things, read to your kids, practice a little bit of math with them, and practice writing with them, their handwriting in particular. Handwriting you can download for free. You can do copywork with your kids. You can find free copywork for your kids at MomStrong International, and they can be writing out God’s word.
I love that the Bible says, “Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.” We are raising a rising generation and engage, engage, engage in it. Don’t be afraid. This is the time to be excited and engaged. And allow the Lord to do something new in your family, and you guys are going to be so, so glad that you did.
If you want more information about homeschooling, you can visit me at heidistjohn.com. There’s information all over the place there on homeschooling. There are videos that I’m posting for you. Follow me online at The Busy Mom at Facebook. And we’re just going to encourage each other, all right? There’s so much to be encouraged about. And I know that when we look back on this time in history, we’re going to say, “Thank you, Lord. You were in it from the beginning. Thank you for turning my heart back to what’s most important. Thank you that I’m getting to teach my child what is right and what is wrong. And help me, Lord, to do it in a way that brings you honor.”
We love you guys. Cannot wait to see what the Lord is doing in your life as we move forward in all this. Feel free to reach out to me at heidistjohn.com/mailboxmonday. I hope you guys have a fantastic Wednesday, and I will see you back here on Friday. We’re going to have a great guest here, and you guys are going to love it. I’ll see you then.
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Heidi St. John
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