Elon Musk is the founder of several innovative companies which include Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal. He’s also decided to homeschool his 5 children, sort of. He’s started an innovative private school for his 5 kids and 15 others that has no grades and takes an unschooling approach to education.
His approach to education is much like his approach to business and these basic principles can be applied to any homeschool.
How to Homeschool Like Elon Musk
Take Calculated Risks
Many homeschoolers I know are risk-averse. When you’re raising a family on one middle-class income things can get a little tight financially and so you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks that may hurt the checking account.
That may mean buying the same curriculum every year even if your kids hate it because at least you know they’re “learning what they’re supposed to learn”. Perhaps it means that when an enrichment opportunity arises that may stretch the budget you avoid it because you don’t want to waste money on something your kids won’t like.
Don’t be afraid to take a calculated risk. If your child wants to study swamp rats all year, find a way to incorporate as many different subjects as possible into their learning. It may mean throwing out your curriculum but it also means that your kid will love learning all year long.
Have a vision for the future
Some homeschool parents are great at setting goals. Others, take homeschooling on a day-by-day basis. Goals are great. Plans are great. What you really need is a vision of the future.
Having a checklist of things you want to accomplish this school year is not a vision. A vision is long term and may not have any measurable goals. Vision is long-term and your plans and checklists are what help you to accomplish your vision.
It’s a good idea to sit down with your spouse every year and talk about the vision for your homeschool. Do you want to produce mad-scientists or artists that follow their muse? Talk about it and and keep that vision in mind when planning to homeschool.
Use setbacks as an opportunity to learn
We all have setbacks. Every great inventor, successful business owner, or star athlete has setbacks. Things like this are unavoidable. Sometimes you have a setback as a parent or your kids have setbacks.
Don’t let those setbacks stop you from homeschooling. If you need to take a year off and only teach reading, writing, and arithmetic because of health issues don’t be afraid to do that. Maybe you or your spouse are having employment problems so you need to shift the schooling to the evening, roll with it.
Use those setback to reassess and come up with a plan to deal with it should the problem arise in the future. Ultimately, your kids will learn from the situation because they’ll be watching you to see how you deal with the situation.
Take your kids to work with you
This is one area where I think I’ve missed the mark. If you work at home this is easy to do but if you work in a office this isn’t so easy. Employers don’t want kids running around the office. I think people who work in a trade have it far easier (I could be wrong) because the environment lends itself to having a “helper” tag along.
April 28th, 2016 is National Bring Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day so it’s an opportunity to do this at least once a year. Check with your employer to see if they are participating or have any activities planned. Even if they don’t have anything formal in place your could ask your manager or supervisor if it would be OK to have a kid or two tag along.
Start Your Own School
As homeschoolers, we have started our own school. One of the things I’ve seen happen, though, is that a lot of homeschoolers just want a curriculum to follow and there’s nothing dynamic or exciting about their homeschooling. It’s basically school at home.
Do something fun, innovative, and uncommon in your homeschool! Don’t say things like, “We haven’t finished our lessons today,” when your kids get invited to go fishing. Let them go! Try to avoid the day-in, day-out pattern of “getting school done” and blaze your own trails.
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Music for the podcast by Kevin Macleod.