“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.” Roger Lewin. Can I propose that today we take some time to think about the individuality of each of our children? Is it possible that instead of cloning the mainstream education system, we begin to tailor our curriculum to the needs and interests of the one being taught?
I have been thinking about this long and hard. My children have always had an entrepreneurial mindset, and so teaching them has been somewhat of a challenge. We would be in the middle of a History lesson, and my eldest would be off in la-la-land daydreaming about opening a road-side shop! Instead of playing a nice board game, my littles are busy setting up a three-ring circus complete with signs reading, “.25 cents to see a card trick and .50 cents for a face paint drawing.”
Now, while I know kids play their games and make fun; these scenarios taught me something. They made me realize that I really need to teach my child, not just teach the curriculum. I firmly believe in training our children according to their interests and training them for real life.
Outside of giving them a firm foundation in Biblical teaching and Torah living, it is so vital to be preparing our children for real life. Are we teaching them financial responsibilities, or leadership and communication skills? Are we teaching our girls how to run a household, and our boys how to care for a family? Are we setting them up to be successful in life, or are we simply preparing them to pass a test?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still recommend teaching the basics to a certain degree. But, as I am teaching them along the way, I observe them and I take mental notes on what interests them really. What drives them. What makes them happy, and what gifts and talents they portray. I begin to help them develop in those areas, and when they have reached a certain grade level, I start asking them what they want to do with their lives, and from there we begin to build a graduation plan. Not based on state standards, but based on the desire of their heart and the career interests they hold.
While I know that in most cases state standards must be met, I also know that you can accomplish that, and still map out your child’s graduation plan to not only prepare them for life in the real world but to also prepare them for THEIR real life.
Real-life learning prepares them for most of the easy stuff, most of the necessary stuff, and everything in between. Sure, we may miss a few lessons here and there but how fun to be with them as they experience more ‘firsts’! And even more so, how fun would learning be if they were learning the things that they cared about? My children have a lifetime of learning ahead, and the most important thing I can teach them today is how to love learning.
by -Tamara Russell
You can contact Tamara at [email protected]