I am beyond no means an expert when it comes to the art of homeschooling. I've tried different curriculum and learning techniques throughout the years to see if there was anything that would be the magic formula. The one thing that I have found that works the best is to not "over" teach my children. I give them their books and let them explore their assignments and if they need help they know they can immediately come to me, my husband or research for answers at the library, Internet or books in our own personal library. It kind of happened accidentally as I stepped away to do some dishes one morning while they were working and found that they actually learned MORE when I wasn't hovering over them explaining the lesson to them. I also caught my oldest child "teaching" his brother mathematical equation tricks....his face glowed as he was able to show his brother something that he knew to help him.
Once a child can read, the world is an open book for them to explore. The coolest part of this accidental discovery is that my boys do not expect me to know the answers to everything. If we are watching a program and they want to explore something further, they know how to use the library computer index and the Internet to find the answers they are looking for. I can't ask for a better venue for them to discover more than what their textbooks tell them. If they are learning about tigers and have a question about a specific tiger...they can easily find what they want.
What my dream would be is that this freedom to explore and find the answers for themselves will assist them in higher education as well as throughout their lives. Rather than being spoon fed puppets, they have turned into constant seekers of facts and information. If they do not understand something, they research it more. If they want to know the Chicago Cub player with the highest batting average, they can find it!! What more could a mom or teacher ask for.
My preschooler has just started reading and it's amazing that the more words that he learns the more that he can share in the fun with his older brothers. He is my most inquisitive one, so it's going to be fun to see what kind of researcher he's going to be.
The best way that I can tell you to start this with your homeschooler is to first teach them how to read. Once they are reading, let them read the instructions to their homework and try to figure out the concepts. I'm not saying just let them do everything themselves and not help them, I'm saying be that eagle momma watching over the babies in the nest and only jumping in when they need help. Next show them how to use Google, Yahoo and MSN to search for answers to their questions. This is something you absolutely have to supervise if you do not have a profanity filter on your browser as you should never give a child free reign on the Internet. Take them to the library and show them how to use the card catalog (computer or the original card files depending on your library). I also show them how to use a dictionary, encyclopedia and thesaurus to find answers as well. Finally, if they ask you something that you know that they can find from one of these resources, tell them to "look it up". My mom always did this too me and I am actually glad she did because it is that very activity that has fostered this new learning style with my children.