I spend my days educating my children. Well, I use the term “educating” loosely. I attempt to provide an atmosphere of learning and quality content to draw from. Some days (not often) that looks like strict lessons in Latin and grammar. Most days, for better or worse, that looks suspiciously like unschooling.
One of the greatest things parents can do to create a home atmosphere that encourages learning is to let their children see them learning. This benefits children in several ways, but I’d like to highlight just one benefit at the moment.
Learning new things is hard.
I think parents forget this sometimes.
Some of us have been long-removed from situations in which ideas or skills are brand-new to us. Maybe we forget the frustration that sometimes accompanies the learning process. Maybe we forget how it feels to be awkward at something new. Maybe we forget the stress that hits when we are asked a question we have no answers for.
Have your kids watched you struggle with something new? Something difficult? Have your children watched you choose to learn something for its own sake, because learning is a worthwhile pursuit?
When your kids are struggling with learning something new or doing something difficult, do you think of a time when you felt the same way?
Have you experienced that moment of break-through, when a skill or an idea you’ve been wrestling with suddenly (or not so suddenly) comes with something resembling ease? Have you shared that moment with your children?
I’ve had Spencerian handwriting copybooks on my shelf for a few years, always meaning to get around to them—some day. This past month I realized that I needed a now or never moment, so I pulled them off the shelf and just began. No planning. No ceremony. No beautiful fountain pen. Just the kitchen table, a pencil, and me.
It so happens that I discovered something: Spencerian handwriting is difficult for me. It’s frustrating. I, who have always enjoyed handwriting, have found a challenge.
So each day, as the boys sit down at the table to do their math on Khan Academy (which deserves a whole post of its own), I sit down at the table with my handwriting copybooks and my belated inexpensive fountain pens and write. I’m still waiting for a break-through. But my boys are watching me try and struggle and keep at it, and I’m experiencing empathy for them as they try and struggle and need encouragement to keep at it.
In addition to the Spencerian handwriting—which is just for me; I’m not requiring the kids to do it—I’ve also restarted Duolingo Spanish. Just a few minutes each day is all it takes (at home on the computer or on the go with the app, and it’s FREE!). The boys are not learning Spanish; it’s just for me. (Though guess who wants to learn Spanish now? That’s right. All of them.)
Just a few minutes each day—but I make sure my boys see me trying something difficult and keeping at it…
…Because learning is a joy, even when it’s hard.