A Famous Quote That Says it All

The following quote is from Booker T. Washington, “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him and to let him know that you trust him.” When I read this quote I was struck by how succinctly these few words wrapped up the essence of homeschooling for many families. When I meet with parents and families new to homeschooling, one of the biggest hurdles they face is letting go of the idea that the success of their children’s education relies solely on them as parents. To be honest we can all identify with these emotions but after homeschooling my four children I can tell you it is totally unfounded. Not only can you not force a person to learn what they do not wish to know and retain but you also can see children embrace learning as something joyful.

Children are willing and capable of accepting the task of self-directing their quest for knowledge and Mr. Washington is correct when he states that trust is of vital importance. We all know when people are being honest with us and children are no exception being extremely perceptive of this fact. If this idea scares you as a parent/educator, then take it step by step beginning with small items or projects. Have your child take on an idea they wish to pursue, outline the steps to achieve it and go for it. This can be as simple as drawing a map or as complex as building a boat. If they make a mistake or fail they should be encouraged to examine why and keep at it. Perseverance is such an important tool to learn in life that starting at a young age is very important. A common mistake adults often make with young children is assuming we understand their final aim or goal completely, when we are totally off the mark. This can lead to adults stepping in to save the child from “failure”. An example taken from my book is of my six-year-old daughter stating she was going to Mars for her project that month. My first instinct was oh my will she be upset when she figures out that she cannot get to Mars. Well, my daughter proved me wrong. She set about reading books on Mars and watching videos from the library. By the time the month was over she had compiled information on the planet, shared it with her siblings and explored the planet. In her mind’s eye she had been to Mars and knew all about it and I can guarantee she knew much more than I did about the planet and its place in the solar system. This example proves that as adults we can have rigid ideas about how learning can and should take place but this often locks out the creative spirit. Imagine what could have happened if I had told her the project was impossible; no learning would have taken place and her confidence would have taken a big step backwards.

What I ask you to do is to give your child some if not all of the responsibility for making decisions about their education with guidance when necessary and then trust them to follow through on it. As adults we strive daily for the ability to direct our lives and know others trust us to do so. Should we expect any less from our children knowing the goal is to have them be productive and responsible members of society. Please take the time to think about Mr. Washington’s statement and know how it would make you feel to have it applied to your life by others then go forward and pass it on.

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