Raising Kids to Learn
- 2004 10 Nov
The film whirred, Beethoven's symphony played, and the words slid across the television screen. An off-camera voice announced "Show How, for Know How." Welcome to 1984 as my brother and I started our first video production. He was seventeen and I was fourteen. I stood in the cold with my uncle's clunky video camera against my shoulder. We intended to follow in the footsteps of "This Old House" with a how-to show featuring my brother's workshop. This was before HGTV, and TLC.
In 1984, when "homeschooling" started to make news, we began our eighth year of schooling at home. Curriculums weren't available to us and our workbooks were used. Children though, have a natural affinity to learn. This became our academic salvation. For every homeschooling parent who worries about their child, who worries about their child's future, it's important to remember that children are living breathing things; their natural design is to try and figure things out.
Instill in them the Desire
As parents it's important for us to ignite in our children the curiosity and desire to learn. We do this by sharing with them our excitement about the events in our life. As we share with them, their interest will be sparked. While growing up, my family's business invested in real estate. My parents were self-employed, and out of necessity us kids helped out were we could. This sparked my own interest in real estate at a young age. I became the business secretary and as I spent hours typing up purchase agreements my interest in the business grew. I'd devour trade magazines, pay attention to news reports, and would pretend to buy houses. My participation encouraged me to get a real estate license, and also made the process easier.
Knocking the "T" out of can't
The keys to believing that a goal can be accomplished are found in Philippians 4:13; "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." As well as Deuteronomy 1:21; "…the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged."
A child's perceived limitations are often caused by the discouragement of others. Our peers, parents, and leaders seem eager to tell us what is too big for us to tackle. One of the limitations of formal schooling is that children are surrounded by others who tell them that they "can't"—until they are older, until they know more, or because nobody has done it before. One of the blessings of homeschooling your child, is that they don't have the preconceived notions of what they can't do. Because they aren't comparing themselves with others they are much more likely to believe that they will accomplish their goal.
In the 1920's, at my grandma's country school in Tennessee, when a child said the word "can't" the teacher would instruct her to write the word on a piece of paper and bury it outside. This was her way of creating optimistic thinkers. Likewise, we have to be the cheerleading squad for our children, hiding our own doubts, so that we don't hinder them with a "you can't" attitude.
Provide the tools
To further the education of our children it's important to provide them with the tools they need to learn. A man's foster daughter expressed a desire to play the violin. Being an intelligent businessman he recognized the importance of giving her the best tools. He went out and bought her a Stradivarius violin. She studied, practiced, and she became accomplished, until she reached her full potential. Not all of us can afford to purchase the best instruments available, but our children should have the best we can afford. I myself know the difference between learning a skill using poorly made tools compared with quality tools. My new but cheap sewing machine brought nothing but tears of frustration, and discouraged my moderate interest in sewing. Later, my parents bought me a quality used machine. The first time I used it I was surprised at the rush of tears I felt because it was so easy to operate.
Tools consist not only of mechanical tools, but reading materials—books and trade magazines, knowledgeable people, as well as access to projects to work on. More than likely your child will find his own project. If your son has an interest in engines, it's important that he is allowed to work on them, even if it means disassembling your lawn mower. This will cause you some moments of anxiety, but it's this experimentation that will give your child hands-on experience as well as foster his ability to think and reason. Without access to tools your children will be handicapped by their inabilities to pursue their ideas and to test their knowledge.
God has given us the responsibility to parent our children according to His precepts. We are to encourage them and to train them in wisdom and in knowledge. These should form the foundation of their adventures and experimentations. It's your guidance that will inspire them to wonder and to learn. It's your insight and wisdom that will allow them to understand and comprehend what they're doing. It's your encouragement that will propel them to seek out answers for themselves.
My brother and I never became famous producing do-it-yourself shows. However, since then his workshop has quadrupled in size and he is an accomplished furniture craftsman. Likewise, these principals will excel your child into an interesting and exciting future.
Janice has been writing for 15 years and writes from her experience as a homeschooled student as well as observer of other homeschool families. Be sure to visit her website at http://www.janicemary.com.