I mentioned a week ago that I’m starting some official pre-schooling at home with my four-year-old, Ella. What I didn’t mention is that I am a 2nd generation home-schooling mother. In other words, I was homeschooled and I am now homeschooling [insert your own joke about jean jumpers here]. I am so grateful for the education my mom and dad gave me. The parts I have found the most valuable, however, didn’t come from books. Yes, I do have a love for reading. But the most valuable things I learned from my parents were lessons learned alongside the books. Parents have a huge impact on children, no matter what kind of school work they do. Whether you’re homeschooling or traditionally schooling your kids, here are some lessons every kid needs to know.
1. Learning happens everywhere.
People started asking me when I was going to start Ella in school when she was as young as two-year-olds. I always wanted to say, “I already have,” but I knew that they were asking about formal school work. We’re doing a simple work book right now, but before, we just learned as we played. Ella learned her numbers, letters, colors, all the preschool stuff without ever doing an official preschool curriculum. Children simply love to learn.
2. Younger children are precious friends.
I was totally unaware that “big kids” didn’t like to play with little kids until I was about eight and my friend from down the road came over and made a huge deal of playing without my younger sister. My sister and I are almost four years apart, but we played everything together. The idea that older children aren’t cool if they play with younger children makes me sad. I am glad my mom made it clear that siblings are the most valuable friends, and I’m hoping to instill that truth in my children as they grow.
3. Hard work is important in whatever you do.
Good grades are a nice outcome of hard work. But so is building character. I want my kids to know that I am proud of their hard work more than their results. My parents reinforced this in our home. I was an overachiever, so the grades were usually good. But when they weren’t…when I bombed that 6th grade math test and had a mini identity crisis…my mom made sure I knew that the worth was in the work, not the grades. That has proven true in school work and in all other areas of my life. I started two of my jobs with no experience in the field I was working in, and I had a lot to learn. I wasn’t great at it at first, but my employers saw my hard work and gave me a chance to get things right. I can see my kids hearing this a lot as they grow up: the worth is in the way you work.
4. Opportunities are boundless.
I loved how my parents would tailor our schooling to what we really liked to do. P.E. classes were actually gymnastics classes. Music classes varied from piano lessons to choir. And if we showed interest in something, we were encouraged to do more with it. My dad encouraged me to make hanging baskets of pansies and sell them. My mom gave me scraps to sew. At age 16, I got a job teaching gymnastics. There are all kinds of opportunities for your kids to do what they love, if they have some encouragement from you to think that way about their skills and passions.
5. All children learn differently.
I know I’m going to have to learn this for myself with my own children. Still, watching how my mom approached teaching each of us differently has been invaluable in how I approach working with my own children and others’ children, too.
Here’s to another school year starting. Wherever you send your children, we all need to remind ourselves that the most important lessons don’t have much to do with books.