The thing about teaching my kids is that, for the most part, we got to start out with things that I already knew.
I had the alphabet and numbers and colors down pretty well when we started preschool. I knew that I could confidently teach until at least third grade because I had a good public school education that would ensure that I had a grasp on the basics.
I was only slightly wrong.
Somewhere along the way I had forgotten what phonics were, and also coordinating conjunctions and superlatives and predicate nominatives.
It’s entirely possible that I was part of the educational experiment called Whole Word reading – but I don’t recall.
It’s likely that I diagrammed a sentence or two in fourth grade, but none of that stuck with me.
I do remember that story problems were always the toughest math problems to solve. Two buses head in different directions and it never really mattered how far apart they were because I wasn’t on either of them.
One kid always had more thingamajigs than the other, and that didn’t seem fair, either.
Show me an equation though, and I can plug numbers in and pull answers out like nobody’s business. Just don’t ask me why.
What I really discovered when I began teaching my own kids was that, although I had forgotten a lot, I enjoy learning along with my kids.
I let go of the belief that a teacher had to know everything on a subject in order to have students who could learn.
Enthusiasm and persistence can go a long way.
I understand math laws better now, as an adult. X and Y make much more sense when you’ve grocery shopped on a budget and paid taxes.
Maybe the fact that I’m doing fourth grade math for the sixth time helps a little too.
I discovered that I love history. We study in an approximate four-year rotation, starting with the ancients and cycling through to modern history.
In this way, my kids will each have gone through all of history three times before they graduate high school, delving a little deeper each time according to their age.
I discovered that America is not the center, nor the beginning, of civilization. I learned that the pilgrims were not all friendly and fair with the Native Americans, that the sacrifices for a new start in a new world were enormous, and that our revolution was a catalyst and example for other nations.
I also understand better how history does, indeed, repeat itself – mostly because mankind is just as haughty and stubborn and disrespectful of the past.
I learned to see God’s hand throughout history and how all world events are truly pointing back to Him, one way or another.
I used to be able to stay a few steps ahead of my kids academically, but somewhere around seventh grade I let go and let them forge ahead of me.
They know plenty of things now that they didn’t learn from me: chess, mechanics, scientific laws, Latin conjugations, animal species and habitats, a plethora of interesting facts, and great works of literature.
I don’t worry that I won’t be able to teach them what they need to know, because by the grace of God I taught them to read and taught them how to learn for themselves.
The kind of education that sticks best is the kind you get for yourself, I believe.
Whatever your children’s ages or school settings, show them a love of learning. Show them the value of understanding history and math and literature.
Wonder with them over the glory of a God Who writes history and future events, Who has specific and unchangeable laws for the universe, and Who is intimately involved in the affairs of men.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” -Henry Ford