4 Moms teach what they don’t know

4moms35kids 4 Moms Q&ADoes that sound impossible?  This is one of the big questions about homeschooling: is a child limited by the parents’ knowledge?

Not at all.

There are many answers to this question, but I’m going to focus on just one today, because I feel it strikes deeply at the heart of the question.  [If you’d like a more in-depth answer, you might want to look at this post and the discussion that followed in the comments: What do you do when the children need to learn subjects you can’t teach?]

One of the goals of education is – or should be – to teach a child how to learn.  An educated person should be able to learn independently.  If we are entirely dependent on teachers to personally spoon feed knowledge to us, how will we ever progress beyond the point at which we leave school?  Have you learned nothing since the day you graduated high school or college?

Just think about this:  Of course a child isn’t expected to learn to read on his own, but once you have taught him to read his teacher can be any author in the world, even one who died thousands of years ago!

As a homeschooled student, I was able to teach myself many subjects that were unfamiliar to my parents.  If I ran into problems with one book, I learned to check alternate resources until I understood.  This not only let me keep learning when I passed my parents in those particular subjects, but also left them free to work with the younger ones who needed more attention.

This approach may not work for every student and it may not be optimal for every learning style, but it’s definitely a valid approach.  I was a mature, highly self-motivated child, and I thrived in this state of independence.  Less motivated students may need more encouragement and one-on-one time – but a little character training might help, too.  Not everyone enjoys this sort of independence, but as we mature we should be able to work independently when necessary.  A child who requires constant prodding, oversight, and spoon-fed knowledge is not prepared to function in the “real” world as an adult.

They haven’t studied Latin or calculus, but all of my older children have skills and knowledge that are different or beyond my own in certain areas.  Some of my younger children do, too.  They are hardly limited by my knowledge.

Oh, and if they do study Latin or calculus, I can help them.  I learned those on my own. [confession: I learned them 25 years ago.  I remember little Latin and far less calculus, but I know they’re in my  head somewhere.]

How would you answer this question?  See how the other moms did:

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  1. * obviously, I am also spelling impaired! lol

  2. Excellent answer. I always tell new homeschool parents that instilling a love of reading is half the homeschool education; a child can then “teach” themselves almost anything. And, for the math impared parents (like me :)) there are some wonderful video series, like math-u-see to help fill in the blanks.

  3. I get this question all the time from the skeptics. Our children know so many things that I don’t, just out of their interests in certain subjects. All of our children are musical (I am NOT). They have either had musical lessons from others or taught themselves. Some have just watched music how to’s on YouTube! Pastor & friends have also given pointers along the way.
    Daughter loves to sew and has surpassed me in her abilities! Other daughter likes to decorate cakes!
    Their are so many examples of this I could go on and on, but I won’t.
    If we give our children the love of learning they will seek out on own how to learn!
    Great post!

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