*We have been given a membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum to help facilitate our review. All thoughts and opinions are based on our experience, are ours and are 100% honest and our own.
We have shared on the blog over the last three to five years about how Thomas Jefferson Education has made a positive impact on the way we teach our kids. One of the biggest takeaways for me was Oliver and Rachel Demille’s moto “Inspire not require”. This does not mean our kids are not required to do anything. However, it does mean we evaluate carefully what we do require them to do.
The first aspect in “Inspire not require” is to focus on my own bucket list of things I want to accomplish. I never imagined blogging would lead to becoming a social media manager or a business owner. Now that it has lead to expanding our business I am reading and studying overall marketing. I am studying Ernest Hemmingway to become a better writer and continuing to research the connection between human gut systems and the affects various foods have on them.
As I spend time chasing my dreams it has helped me to find purpose, focus and helps me feel a sense of accomplishment. When I chase my dreams I am less likely to put pressure of fulfilling what I never did, but wanted to on my kids. When I give my kids freedom to be themselves and to strive after their own passions, it is also easier to allow them to learn and explore however they do it best.
Allowing our kids freedom to grasp the world in a way that make sense to them has been one of the best gifts we could give them. This is where what we require meets the inspiration. In terms of academics we require our kids to practice math and language arts, especially reading. It is amazing how much of the world opens up for them simply from mastering reading. We have learned to ask for quality rather than quantity from our kids in their studies. An example is handwriting, they will give me four beautiful written A’s, anymore than that and they get sloppy. It’s as if they are saying, “mom I’m calling you on giving me work, just for the sake of work”. They want to play not sit and write A. Honestly, I agree with them completely! Heck, I would rather be playing and exploring the world I am passionate about, not wasting time with something I do not care as much about.
How do we inspire learning? Board games such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, the Allowance game and even Uno has a wealth of things to learn from it. We fill our bookshelves with information both fiction and non-fiction about the things they are interested in and passionate to learn. We have an anatomy of a dog sitting on our bookshelf Maddie can take apart and put back together giving her an inside look at the animals she loves. Titus has a Snap Circuit board allowing him to build, experiment and learn about electricity. Naomi has art supplies and this year she asked us if we could teach her art history and art theory. She said mom I don’t just want to do art, I want to learn about art, you know to know about art.
We have encouraged our kids to develop their passions, gifts and talents so that they never work a day in their life. Rather, the jobs they pursue are truly what they love to do. Going to work, doing a job well done is a joy and brings them happiness. To encourage this mindset we strive to have our kids experience as many hands on opportunities as possible. This year we had so many experiences. Mark and Maddie went snorkling at Sea Life at the Mall of America, we danced at Joyful Noise 2016, tasted barbecue at Treasure Island’s Food Fest, sampled delicious Chili at the Big Island Bar-B-Que and we stepped back in time as pioneers at the Big Island Rendezvous. Maddie and Naomi danced with Moscow Ballet in The Nutcracker and to end the year we were invited to the Minnesota Children’s Museum to become a Play Advocate. We are excited to encourage and inspire families to play together. We get to share our experience of kids playing to learn and in return teaching adults to learn to play.
This last year has truly been a “Inspire not Require” year. All four of our kids have tasted, touched, smelled and felt the world around them. They have met people from all around the world. They have learned sit down work makes real life easier and faster. Sitting down to do their required work is not as painful as it once was because they know it has a purpose. The best part of the whole year is inspiring play in our kid’s lives leading to learning about not only the world, but about themselves.