Be the learner

Be the learner you want to see in your children.

Take personal inventory over a cup of coffee this morning:

What do you wish you had time to learn/do/be?
Join a Zumba class? Apply to grad school? Read an art history book? Learn to quilt? Read a novel that is for adults? Garden? Read more about a historical moment? Watch Downton Abbey Season 1 or A&E Pride and Prejudice? Figure out how to calculate the amount of feed you need for your chickens you will hatch next spring?

What can you do related to that aspiration today? Do one thing on your way to that goal – check out the book or movie, go to the website and download the application instructions, visit a quilting store, stop by the library, look up fall plants online, look up math equations…?

When can you do it? After lunch during naptime? Tonight after your spouse or partner gets home? Those work, but they are when you are alone.

How about right now, in front of your kids, ignoring what they are doing for a few minutes? Just dive in and talk as you go: “I think I’d like to understand the abolition movement better. It’s been so interesting reading about the Civil War with you guys. Give me a few minutes. I’m going to put some books on hold at the library.” Or “Hey before we get started today, I want to watch one episode of Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting. I’m curious about art history and know nothing about it. You can watch if you want, or play with Legos. Then we’ll start your stuff.”

Don’t put off your own learning. Your passion for what you want to know IS the fuel of your homeschool. It’s not just a model (like you don’t do it to “demonstrate” passion). You do it because you ARE interested. You live it because you need it to thrive! Which is what you hope happens to your kids with their interests.

You must make time right in front of your kids to do what interests you. The only reason kids want to be adults is that adults do cool stuff. So do the cool stuff—and don’t feel guilty. It’s essential to their growth and your well-being.

What will you do/learn/be today? Let’s share in the comments. 🙂

6 Responses to “Be the learner”

  1. Angela says:

    I am thankful for this timely message. This past January I began a course of study toward finishing my degree. The guilt that has bogged me down because I’m “taking time away from the children” while I study has been unbearable. It’s that little voice inside my head that has dubbed so much of motherhood “otherhood” that there’s nothing left for me, myself and I, and that’s as it should be. Lies! I actually think the kids feel less pressure when I’m pursuing something for myself – it lets them off the hook, for the time being. I plug on, because this is good for me and good for them, and doing it “out loud” is excellent, though at this point the only thing they see as something adult-like to look forward to is an inordinate amount of time on the computer!

  2. caroline says:

    this is a very great message that I just learned the past couple of days. And thanks for articulating it for me.

    I have noticed that when I do the things I love, the kids learn not to bother me and give me more ME time while they do their own play time. On to more enjoyable days for parents and kids alike. It doesn’t have to kid-centric literally to have a kid-centered family life.

  3. Arp says:

    Modelling behavior & setting examples are probably the most powerful ways we influence our own children.

  4. Malea says:

    This is very much how our lives have been the past few years, and will be for the next few. I’m a single mom of a 14 year old boy. In the last few years he has seen me return to school to pursue a Master’s. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about some of the sacrifices we’ve made so that I could achieve this goal, and why it was important to me. One of the best things about the experience for me, besides obviously achieving my goal, was knowing that I am role modeling behavior for my son, but also how proud he was of me when I graduated, and how proud I will be when he follows and achieves his own dreams.

    We recently chatted about the next steps in our lives, both his and mine, and our mutual and exclusive goals. He sees me actively pursuing my interests and goals, and I actively support him in pursuing his interests and goals. Sometimes it is boring and lonely for him, but sometimes it is also boring and lonely for me. These are the sacrifices necessary in achieving goals, and he is learning to set goals, to follow through even when things get hard or feel impossible, and he’s learning to be patient and flexible when things don’t go as planned, because those are the things he sees me doing in pursuit of my passions.

  5. During the years when our unschoolers were small (and more so in the brief years when we attempted kitchen-table lessons with our eldest, who just turned 11), I found myself doing just tiny bits of what I wanted – I would write a paragraph here, read bits of an article there…

    Things have shifted in the last year or two, and now I find I have lots of time for my own passions, and children as interested in learning about them as I am in learning about and sharing in theirs.

    Last November, I entered the NaNoWriMo challenge for the second time (the first had been two years before, and it was difficult to get those 50,000 words written!).

    This summer,I was researching Shakespearean England (the novel deals with a young girl who, through a time travel accident, ends up outside London in 1613. She survives for several months, living off the land, and the book culminates with the burning of the Globe Theatre).

    I explained to the kids that I needed to be sure my novel didn’t contain any obvious impossibilities, and that I needed to know more about what life was like when Shakespeare lived.

    Both enjoyed hearing bits about what life was like for the children of 400 years ago, as I shared what I was reading…

    One of the library books I’d checked out was Shakespeare: His Work and His World, a children’s book with lovely art and many quotes.

    I was getting ready to read it, when I had the idea to ask the kids if they’d like me to read it aloud. We had just finished another book, and they were eager.

    My daughter, 8, came and went through the readings – the book was written for 11-15 year olds, so some was a little beyond her.

    My son, almost 11, was fascinated. He asked if he could read the quotes, and, in so doing, learned to read footnotes and act/scene/line notation. He then wanted to read some of the main body of text, and learned about punctuation, history, architecture, and more…

    Both children loved the absorbing art, the power of Shakespeare’s language, and the diagrams and maps.

    And I had the chance to be with them, sharing my love of Shakespeare and fantasy writing, and seeing them light up as they each took bits of my passion and made them their own!

    To me, that is the epitome of unschooling and writing – to share, and to learn – together, but each in their own way!

    Thanks for this post – it brightened and deepened my day! -D