Trust The Children

Monday, May 30, 2005

Why "Trust the Children" ?

Because if you don't you will have a hard time lasting long enough for home schooling to have its desired impact on your children.

Cyndy and I have attended lots of home schooling conventions. More in the early years than now. (When you home school as long as we have, you kind of get into a pattern that works for you.) I have been inspired by many of the great speakers. Yet, for me, the most intriguing time during these conventions, was listening to the questions and wonderings of home schoolers new and less new during the open "Question and Answer" sessions.

I am amazed at how often home schooling parents are willing to "risk" by asking questions with often 50 or more people listening in. It demonstates to me that those asking, care deeply about the education of their children. So deep that making themselves bit vunerable is less important than the chance that the answer to their question might be an important "key" to unlocking potential in their children.

Often, as I listen to the questions, I wonder if the goal for some parents is "education for the children", or "recreating the parent's own public learning experience" in the home.

I had a great learning experience at Duniway Grade School. But yet I captured a vision of something that might just be better.

How about trusting the interests our children have as indicators of how we may be facilitators and enablers instead of lecturers?

One of our daughters thought she loved music. We trusted in that interest, her curiosity to learn more and this spring celebrated a Masters Degree in Music.

One son's eyes were wide as saucers when under the Christmas tree was a Texas Instrument TI-90. We set it up Christmas day and he wrote his first program. We trusted his interest and helped it along. Then came a Macintosh. He was hired by Microsoft out of High School and today works for the Mac Business Unit with a budding career in something he loves AND is good at.

Another daughter it was trying to make the volleyball team at the local high school. We trusted in that interest, and she ended up going to state with her volleyball team. But more importantly, this experience helped her define herself as a leader, though her approach was more of a quiet one and a contributor with something to offer as a member of a team.

Another son has has a hard time with reading, but he loves welding and building things and when an opportunity to learn CNC Milling at the school came up, it was amazing how motivated he was to read. We trusted in his natural interest and so many other things came along with it.

I could go on with each of the kids. As long as their interest is morally ok and within some perameter of safety, bumps and bruises excluded, we trust them and facilitate them with enthusiasm.

I could go on and on. But this is the conclusion. There is something natural and powerful and miraculous all rolled into one, when we respond to the interests of our children and help them grow there. Trusting the Children is somehow right, and magic and powerful and transformational in the lives of our children. It seems to be like floating with the current instead of swimming against it. Going with the flow instead of bucking the tide.

Education doesn't have to be a choice between doing fun things or school, between adventure or drudgery. Taking fun things and adventure and putting that into a framework where learning occurs is a way of "Trusting the Children."

This approach puts less stress on the parents, (ie. minimizing it not eliminating it). It makes the taste of learning sweet in the mouths of our children. Natural curiosity is more often preserved to be used in future days. And as we have experienced, the seeds of leadership are sown. A type of leadership that is true leadership more than management of the status quo.

How about trusting your children to recover from their own choices more and rescuing them less? When we rescue, and shield our children from responsibility for their decision too much, we send a message that we don't trust them to recover themselves from poor choices. We, in effect, weaken their own self image. On the other hand, when we allow them to deal with the consequences of their poor choices, we send a message that we think they are capable of doing the adult thing, which is the take responsibility for our decisions. The sooner our children get burned a bit for their poor choices, by taking full responsibility for the consequences, the sooner they will be more careful in the decision making process.

What are some other ways we can use the principle of "Trusting our Children" as we nurture their choices in education?


  • Great advice! You're whole article doesn't show up fully in my RSS reader. It would be great if you could turn that on.

    By Anonymous David Weiss, at 7:56 PM, May 30, 2005  

  • "... we send a message that we think they are capable of doing the adult thing, which is [to] take responsibility for our decisions. The sooner our children get burned a bit for their poor choices, by taking full responsibility for the consequences, the sooner they will be more careful in the decision making process."

    Is being "more careful in the decision making process" really what you want? I mean, it seems to me that you want to train up one to have the courage to take risks and shoot for the moon. Furthermore, so much of creativity does not come from the careful decision making process.

    How do you nurture courage and creativity?

    By Anonymous David Weiss, at 8:13 PM, May 30, 2005  

  • Good questions? And no easy or pat answers. but let's give it a try. First and foremost, courage and creativity in our children comes first through personal example of the parents. Courage by accepting responsibility fully for your own experiments in life, making amends, putting them behind you and getting up again and again and trying one more time.

    It seems to me that getting burned because of a poor choice and needing to accept it, deal with it and move on, is necessary to obtaining wisdom. But the price of wisdom need not be perceived as too high to try again. Overcoming this perception in our children may best be accomplished by our own personal example of happy persistance.

    Our children have observed me dealing with a stubborn motor home engine, until it finally got us home. The have seen me try and fail at certain business initiatives, but continue to try until a way is found or another direction taken. They have observed first hand Cyndy struggling with home schooling, especially in the last months of the school year. Yet she persists, with the children watching from a ring side seat. Persisting in well doing despite discouragment and failure is someting our children need to see in us first, and in their heros like the Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Creativity and the development of it is directly related to nurturing and preserving natual curiosity. Cyndy is always wondering about the world around her. "Let's go here and see ..... " "I wonder what we could learn by going here?" I enjoy finding all kinds of ways to do things and deciding among them which I will try. Again, the personal example of us as parents goes a long way. So inside the broad boundries of morality and safety, our children have been given the chance to explore, a homeschooling gift.

    I remember a talk by a speaker at a Home Schooling convention in Olympia. It has stuck with me. She said, "The work of a child is play." Somehow I got this into my head that this was true all the way up until at least 12 years old. That cognitive learning needed to take a back seat to experiential learning in the early years. Allowing for feeling, touching, falling, picking ones self up, looking under and around things, without helicopter parents always about, sets a course for life in the early years that is fun to nurture in the later years.

    Sam (15 at the time) building a hover craft. That was fun. Deborah (trying out for band with a new trumpet) Tamarah (17 as the time) trying out for Miss Redmond. Christine (20 at the time) trying out for "Miss Ricks" while at school. These experiences of the later teen years were born in the early years where home schooling allowed them to try different things. Sow small seeds early, over time the plant grows and later you are pleasantly surprised what fruit you can harvest over the years and how good it tastes.

    By Blogger Mark and Cyndy Weiss, at 8:06 AM, June 01, 2005  

  • When I was young I loved to listen to cassette tapes. I believe each child's bedroom had its own tape players so we could listen to music or stories as we would fall asleep. When I was about 6,7 or 8 years old I remember loving the music of Janice Kapp Perry. I would put it into my cassette player and go to the most peacful place in the house, usually the Front Room. I remember standing by the big picture window looking out to the front yard and our big cedar tree. I was in my own world as I listened to the words of that music and felt special feelings that I knew were different, they were feelings of the spirit of God. I felt like God knew me and that I was loved and there was a plan for my life. I learned from those songs things that I knew would help me be happy. I don't know if my parents noticed my love of those songs, but at Christmas and my birthdays I would get a new cassette tape of her music. My parents fed my love of that music, probably without even knowing it. Though this is a small example of trusting the child and feeding their curiosity, it has had eternal impact in my life. Those quiet moments of listening and pondering that music are what helped nuture my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. My life is forever changed and better because of that small and simple thing. I hope to knowingly and even unknowingly do that for my children and be an example to them so that they will build on what I have learned and experienced and choose to do great things with what I can give them.

    By Blogger Tamarah Bartmess, at 9:19 PM, October 03, 2005  

  • We 'found' our Texas Instruments TI90 the other day - along with the Amstrad computer that replaced it. After that we stopped collection. :-)

    Just found your blog. Excellent reading!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:40 PM, June 21, 2009  

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