If your kids are asking you, “Why do we have to learn this?”, it’s time to rethink your teaching strategy...because you’re missing the mark. And here are seven reasons why:
You’ve given your kids the “what” - multiplication tables, spelling words, handwriting dittos, whatever - before they’ve had a chance to actually see and experience why they need to know it.
You can spend months, or even years, trying to teach a child something that, if you just sit back and wait for your child to recognize a personally meaningful need or desire for, your child can learn in days or weeks instead.
It is an indisputable fact that human beings learn things much better, more efficiently, and faster when we have a legitimate personal need for or when we’re interested in the material. Children are no different.
This might be painful to hear, but it needs to be said. How would you feel if someone else told you, “You must learn (insert topic you have absolutely no interest in learning right now)”? What if that mandate took your time and energy away from something that was personally meaningful to you? Would you feel like that person respected you?
This is another that might be painful to hear but still, needs to be said. It’s probably plainly obvious, though, because unless you have a very compliant child, kids are going to dig in their heels and resist (sometimes loudly) your efforts to control them - and make no mistake, telling them that they must learn X, Y, or Z because you said so is seeking to control them...even if your intentions are loving and good.
What happens when people feel disrespected and controlled, but they have no power to do anything about it? They get frustrated. What happens when people aren’t developmentally, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physically ready to learn something and someone else with more power insists that they do?
They get frustrated.
What happens when you think you’re doing what’s in the best interest of your children and they actively resist (sometimes loudly) you at every opportunity?
You get frustrated.
There’s nothing sacred about the scope and sequence of a K-12 education in a public school. It completely baffles me why any homeschooler would seek to duplicate that at home. There’s a staggering opportunity cost to our young people (and thus society as a whole, and that’s rarely if ever, discussed) to having an authority figure’s agenda for what children supposedly need to know dictate what children spend their time and mental energy on.
As a society, we’ve been so thoroughly brainwashed into accepting the need for a teacher to direct student learning and a curriculum to guide the lessons that somehow many of us have come to believe that without the teacher or the curriculum, children will simply never choose to learn anything difficult or worthwhile.
What could children learn, discover, and create on their own without structured lessons led by an authority figure? What connections could children make if their learning wasn’t divided into arbitrary subjects?
If we step back and stop meddling, we’ll find answers to those questions...and while our children are learning, discovering, and creating on their own, they won’t be asking, “Why do we have to learn this?”
I'm a married, homeschooling mama of three who is passionate about self-directed learning.
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