Teaching Children

Somewhere there must be a mathematical formula to describe what I want to say, but I don’t know it or where to look for it, so I’ll make it up based upon my own observation. For every one thing parents teach their children, the children learn seven things on their own. What’s that, you think it’s more like 50 things on their own? Perhaps that is true. I’ve been seeing it more and more lately. Their artwork develops by leaps and bounds without any guidance; they interpret stories with such sophistication; they invent games with complex rules using natural materials; they handle their emotions with grace… all of these things and more are happening with or without my guidance. As a homeschooling mom I see so clearly how much they discover without the aid of anyone else – me, their friends and their extra-curricular teachers. I’m with these girls all day, every day, and I know what they are exposed to and what they find on their own. So much of who they are becoming they discover by themselves, not with my help. It is a wonder that many of us grow up as children and attribute so much of who we are to our parents, when in fact we find out so much about who we are on our own, without our parent’s (or teacher’s) assistance. As a parent, I have to step back and realize that who my children are becoming has a bit to do with me, and so much more to do with who they are as individuals. Growing up is something that each of us does independently, for ourselves.

I pause and hear myself now. I’m back to the push and pull about where I stand with homeschooling. How much do I let the girls decide what they want to learn, and how much do I decide what to teach? There is a lot to be said for following their interests. Looking back on my own childhood, I remember that my interests didn’t always match up with my parent’s priorities. As I grew, I was the first to discover what fascinated me. Had I been given the opportunity to direct my studies around those topics, I can see that I would have done quite well (I did quite well anyway, but imagine if I had done even better?). What if my children’s interests are not the same as mine? What if they don’t want to learn about art and history, science and literature? Maybe it’s time to take stock of what they’re learning, and see if it can’t be matched up with the things that they are curious about.

I know myself, and I know that I will continue to introduce a heavy Liberal Arts philosophy upon my children every day. Heck, you could whirl our household back in time 100 years and we would fit in just fine. Reading, natural sciences, the study of history, art appreciation… those are topics we cover regularly. They’re important to me and I like to think it’s important information to pass along to my children.   

It’s a good time to pause and realize how magical they are. With or without my influence. It is just amazing to step back and see that learning, creativity and curiosity come naturally to them without any introduction from me. They are amazing people, my daughters. 


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