Education at its best is an impartation of knowledge, skills, and values. But that is just the beginning. It is also an implantation of the ability to teach oneself, to understand what is known — and what is yet to learn — and where to look for it. It is also by design, and therefore by necessity, an individual endeavor. So while pulling your own studies together, here are 4 things you need to know to educate your children:
1. Your child is unique.
Celebrate his uniqueness.
- Make a list of his skills. Find out how he learns best.
- Love is an action. Create a plan that will honor his uniqueness. Bring out the best in him — not your vision of who he should be.
- Avoid criticism. A critic is a dis-abler. Accept the fact that we are all different. And be an en-abler — at least when it comes to lifting your child up to find and be his best.
If a child lives with criticism,
He learns to condemn.
2. You are a teacher/tutor/mentor.
You are qualified. And where you feel weakest you have an opportunity to improve yourself, to become better at your job. To become more qualified.
When becoming more qualified in an area where you do not have any interest, delegate. Find a lever — a resource that will make the job easier (whether that is a scripted text, an online course, or a trusted tutor).
- Accept your role. Don’t worry. It does come lately for some of us. It is harder for those of us who were not mentored in this area ourselves. It is OK to grow into it.
- What do you need to feel more qualified and comfortable in your role? Make a list. Pursue your vision — new habit by new habit.
- Be a model. Most of what you pass along to your child in terms of education amazingly enough is who you are. For the most part, a child will be what he sees. Be a good one.
If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.
3. Learning is challenging.
- You will have them. No matter where or how your child’s education takes place, parenting comes with challenges. It is good to remember that.
- Respond by listening, understanding, and acknowledging. Watch. Listen. Learn. Adjust.
- Relationships are crucial. They develop trust. Trust leads to effective communication. (Remember that communication is bidirectional.) An amazing number of challenges can be overcome with respect on both sides.
If a child lives with security,
He learns to have faith.
- Acknowledge your child’s interests. Feed them. If his interests are not worth feeding, encourage him in bettering them.
- Respect your child’s pace. Why push? What is your goal? Understanding on the part of your child? Or timing?
4. Education is broader than you think.
- Learning happens 24/7/365 — not between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. We are always learning — whether we realize it or not.
- Education comes from within. It isn’t something we can slather over our children. It is something we need to mentor them to do themselves.
As a young child my family lived half a block away from my grandparents. Since my parents both worked, Grandma walked me to and from kindergarten, saw me onto and off of the bus, admonishing the burly bus driver to see that I got to school OK (standing straight up to her full height of 4′ 10″), “entertained” me after school, and held “summer school” every year.
She (and my grandfather) intuitively saw to my early education. We picked vegetables and berries, shelled peas under the weeping willow, and canned. We baked cobblers and pies (the best blackberry cobbler you have ever tasted). While we were waiting for the pie to bake my grandmother would tell me that we were going to create a new recipe for cookies.
How much flour do you think we’ll need?”
“Mmm. And how much sugar?”
“About 2 cups.”
She loved this and wrote down my silly responses for posterity. I did improve a bit over time; but I certainly learned more about measurements than I could have from a textbook.
On rainy days we played dominoes. My grandmother insisted that I score the game (my introduction to counting by fives). I was frequently given the task of arranging the cans in the pantry alphabetically.
I learned what life was like growing up in her time: the mile walk to school she had, and the bitter cold of winter that went right through her wool stockings. She explained who President Eisenhower was as we watched his funeral, and what the “space race” meant as we watched a moon landing. (Yes, dating myself here.)
Grandma taught me the first song I ever played on the piano, which led to ten years of piano lessons and a joy of music that lasts today. I also learned that God knows what is in your heart, even if you don’t say it out loud. And that there are things you definitely shouldn’t say.
My mother taught me to read at a very early age. She enrolled me in a book club and we shared my very first very own book: The Horse Who Lived Upstairs. She filled our home with books and we shared a love of reading.
My dad took time to help me learn to tell time before there were digital clocks, share a few logic puzzles, and have impromptu lessons on carburetors and framing in a door.
This is learning. The adults in my life were my learning tutors and mentors.
This is DIY educating at its best.
Real learning is frequently spontaneous, usually hands-on, and certainly relationship-building. But mostly it is shared. And that makes it enjoyable.
What is enjoyable has a unique way of sticking.
Note: Other than the cookie recipe that you should never use, the quotes are taken from “Parents’ Creed” by Franco.