Indulge me whilst I dip in to another dog analogy to explain. When we brought our first dog home, Hal the Border Collie, extreme gorgeousness wrapped in fluff, we had a steep learning curve to know how to handle our working machine disguised as a cuddly toy. We met an amazing dog trainer at the local club and she took us one to one and started to show us the process.
The thing we did most and our trainer asked us to do every day was play with Hal, get his ball and muck about with him, over and over. Also between every command we were teaching him, we had to stop and play with him. We did as instructed and played with him every day.
It wasn't until later that I started to understand the process that we were in, we were inspiring Hal, giving him a passion, showing excitement and fun, to help focus him on us and inspire a desire to undertake tasks, like searching, retrieving, and even sitting still. He knew if he sat still that would mean he got to play ball and have fun, so he enthusiastically sat still. He learn't to hunt for his ball, then soon other items like lost keys, with amazing enthusiasm and passion. He now hangs off my every word, why? Because he knows any minute I might do something incredibly fun.
All this because we focused on inspiring him, letting him have a passion.
I bring this subject up, because I am starting to see the fruit of my home educating in my eldest son. I decided about six years ago that I didn't want to teach History formally, old school style, getting a history book and reading it, learning dates or studying specific history timelines etc. I decided I wanted to just enjoy it. So I hunted out some cool, fun, brilliantly produced documentaries on the TV, all different sorts, reenactments, exploring history ones, anything with a lot of visual action, battles, fascinating stories of peoples lives in, like Villians and Heros BBC documentary or the History mystery's.
I didn't realise at the time that I was inspiring and sparking a passion, but I see now that I did, as my eldest son decided to take History A level at Sixth Form college. They let him take the course with out any formal history training or exams. He is loving it, he loves the subject with a passion, he is enthusiastically doing extra research at home to support his college learning, he has thrown himself in with both feet and is aiming for high grades.
Never underestimate how just enjoying learning with your kids with out serious formal work, can spark a life long passion and desire in them that can propel them forward in the future, its like rocket fuel to their lives.