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Aw, Mom! When Will I Ever Use This Junk?

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by , 06-22-2010 at 08:24 AM (3117 Views)
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By Kelly

I love learning. It's just part of my nature. One of the reasons I decided to homeschool was probably a desire to share my love of learning with my children.

I don't know if every person begins their parenting career with a subtle expectation that their child will be a carbon copy of themselves, but I sure did! It didn't take long for me to understand that my kids came equipped with their own distinct personalities. We weren't far into our homeschooling journey before I realized that some of my children did NOT share my fascination for learning new things.

"Aw, Mom! Why do we have to learn this? When will we ever use this junk?" My teenaged son, who was reluctantly studying his social studies lesson at the time, seemed to have a point. What do we really need to know in order to survive in our culture? A basic reading ability is probably a must, along with math skills adequate to handle financial transactions. The rest, as they say, is gravy.

Before responding to her brother, my daughter gave me the sideways glance that I've learned means she is intending to be funny instead of disrespectful. "You need to know that stuff so you can make your own kids learn it when you grow up!"

I issued my standard reply to this too-common complaint. "Every single thing you learn can potentially enrich your life at some point!" My kids looked at each other in a way that made me know they were thinking they had the only mom on the planet who uses phrases like "enrich your life".

Later that evening, my son, with his social studies lesson behind him, was enjoying a DVD featuring a stand-up comedian. The monologue was heavy on political humor, and my son was cracking up. For half an hour, he sat there on the sofa, exploding with laughter every few minutes, tears running down his eyes. When the DVD was over, he came into the kitchen and gave me a bear hug. "Mom," he said, with a big grin on his face. "My life was enriched tonight! I wouldn't have understood any of that monologue without the social studies I've been studying this week!"

What followed was a family discussion about how we don't usually settle for survival necessitites in life. Laughing at a comedy show certainly qualifies as "gravy". We don't settle for survival necessities with our education, either because (and my children now quote me on this): Every, single thing you learn can potentially enrich your life at some point.

My son understood this when he experienced it in a way that was meaningful to him, but the education we receive does so much more. Studying historical figures can provide models for our own behaviour, helping to mold our character. An understanding of science concepts is important to determining where we fit into the world. Refining language skills aids in communication, and math skills all build on each other. We aren't even conscious of its happening, but the education we receive is an essential part of who we are.

As homeschool parents, we often get bogged down in trying to decide what our children are "supposed" to be studying at each grade level. We aren't likely to find two social studies or science programs that cover exactly the same things. What our children learn beyond reading and survival math doesn't matter all that much. What really matters is that they continue to learn.

Updated 06-22-2010 at 08:26 AM by hearthstone_academy