How to give your child a Thomas Jefferson education.
Last week we discussed the principles of a Thomas Jefferson Education as outlined in A Thomas Jefferson Education. Well, principles are all well and good, but how in the world do you translate into day-to-day homeschooling? How do you give your child a Thomas Jefferson Education?
Almost all of the great leaders of the world had a mentor who guided them on the way. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Ghandi, or Mother Teresa. Your job is to mentor and guide your children.
Ask questions, recommend books to read, inspire your children to greatness.
Read the Classics
The second critical aspect is to use classic literature or classic books rather than textbooks. Read through the Great Books of Western Civilization. Read the Great Books of the East as well. These books represent the great conversation humanity has debated through the ages.
Ideas of wisdom, the meaning of life, responsibility, the essence of nature and the natural world, what is beauty, what does a child owe their parents, and more are discussed and debated. The great conversation covers every aspect of human knowledge from philosophy to mathematics.
Inspire Your Children
Inspire your child to study rather than require them to slave through piles of required reading. This does not mean ignore your child’s education. Rather you want to engage their interest and make your children hungry for more knowledge.
Again, ask questions, give options, and encourage the pursuit of interests. Find and encourage passions!
Quality education requires time. This means you need to set aside dedicated time for education, say 9 to 3 Monday to Friday. You don’t schedule the time and say we’ll do math from 9-10, English from 11-12, and lunch from 12-1.
Rather, leave the time open to educational pursuits and allow interests and passions to naturally structure the time. If you do need more structure, keep it simple. Keep breathing room in your schedule.
Insist on quality work from your older children. It’s either great or needs to be redone. By requiring your children to achieve a high level of work, they’ll learn not to settle for mediocrity.
Give your child the gift of a Thomas Jefferson Education by teaching them to excel. Excellence is what creates our leaders in all areas of society.
Keep your education simple and don’t try to do it all. Adding in tons of subjects tends to water down the quality of work children are able to complete. It cuts down the time they have to dive into a subject and master the topic.
Give your children, and yourself, the gift of simplicity. Focus on depth of a few subjects rather than breadth of many. Stick to reading and writing about the classics.
Set the example
You can’t inspire your children to educate themselves if you don’t set the example. Read the books you request your children read in preparation for discussions.
Demonstrate what quality work is. Use the structured education time to educate yourself as well as your children.
Ultimately, to give your child a Thomas Jefferson Education, mentor your children and stick to the classics.