As children, all of us had a need to understand things. This need to know is what helps a child learn language, rules of society, everything. But through time, the spark gets pounded out of us by life. The hits start when we discover in public school that we can’t ask endless questions without disrupting the class, and they keep coming stronger and stronger until we settle into something and give up the love of learning that is part of our DNA.
I loved school when I was kid. I was a gifted kid, not like my son is, because I was able to fit in and hide in plain sight. There was never any doubt among my schoolmates about what I was though.
I faced the “nerd” stigma. I was bored in class by the simple, repetitive work. I could complete assignments in half the time of the others. From the time I was in kindergarten I was the teachers aide. When I was in junior high, and the English teacher’s husband had a heart attack, she made arrangements for me to cover her class while she was gone. As a senior in high school, I got credit for teaching in the remedial department. And I graduated high school with nine scholarships — so many that I had to give up several due to conflicts. If you had suggested to me that I would never graduate college, I would have laughed. That didn’t seem possible. But I also
had epilepsy, and shortly after I headed off to college, the seizures started to really come back hard. I ended up taking a break and giving up a few more scholarships, opting for student loans so that I could return to school. Then the epilepsy really kicked my butt and by the time I got control, the student loans wanted paid back. No choice left, I entered the working world in order pay bills and I never went back.
It is impossible to teach homeschool without occasionally having to study something. It’s even harder when you have a highly gifted kid to manage and he happens to love science — probably the subject I was worst at. Although he’s only eight, I’ve already had to hit the books several times: to brush up enough on the periodic table to keep it from being frightfully dull, to study California History since I didn’t grow up here, and learn languages that fascinated him so that I knew enough to pronounce things right. I started feeling that spark again. A desire to know, understand, and ask. Next thing I knew, I was reposting science stuff on facebook, following the curiosity rover almost obsessively, and staring at rocks at the local museum because I’d learned about the different geometric shapes crystals form in and I wanted to see if I could spot them for myself. Although I may always prefer fiction, I’ve started to find non-fiction more interesting, the way I used to feel about it when I was a kid. And there’s nothing like learning to make you feel alive.
Have you ever noticed how homeschool parents seem to be a little smarter than average? Maybe they were to begin with, or maybe having that learning spark reignited changes everything. As for the children, well if they learn by example then seeing mom and dad actually be curious has to have a benefit too.