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You are an amazing teacher. You are kind and good and hardworking and full of knowledge and many other things that a good teacher should be. But, having said that, there is something we need to get straight. You are not always the best teacher for your kid.
Hopefully at some point you will realize this. And hopefully you will be okay with that realization.
For me, it all started when my kids took to messing around on the guitar and zoomed right past everything I already knew.
And I thought it was neat and nice and lots of other adjectives until it continued on for some time into something more than just a hobby and they started talking college and careers. And it continued on even further to the point I no longer understood the musical terminology they were using and they didn’t have anyone but each other to talk about it with.
And then my oldest said he wanted to learn more about music theory and composition because it might be what he wants to do with his life and my youngest said he wanted to study neo-classical electrical guitar like Yngwie Malmsteen and I gave them both blank stares because none of those things are on my checklist of Things I Know and Understand.
That’s when I realized I’m actually not always the best teacher for my kids.
I needed help. I needed to call in reinforcements. Which lead us to taking weekly lessons with two amazing teachers at The Wirth Center for Performing Arts. My sons have found their happy place and are continuing to learn things I never would have been able to teach them myself and they wouldn’t have picked up on their own.
We can’t teach everything.
Some of us start out our journey as homeschoolers honestly believing we can teach our kids everything they’ll need to know.
We get caught up in the I taught my kids to walk and talk and I don’t need a degree to teach my kids to add and read and write or what insects are in our yard or the names of the constellations or how many amendments there have been to the Constitution. I have the power of YouTube and Google, hear me roar!
But friends, that doesn’t last forever. Yes, you can teach your kids a ton of stuff. But none of us are an island. None of us know everything, even with the power of YouTube and Google. not always the best teacher for my kids. We’re not always the best teacher for our kids. We need other people—especially when our kids get older!
You’re not always the best teacher for your kids. Here’s why…
How many of you went forward with a future that your parents would have had enough knowledge to teach you about? The world is big, friends, and there are people out there who know a lot more about different stuff than you do.
Sometimes other people speak your kid’s language. Sometimes other people have the same knowledge or skill set as you, but can explain it in a different way than you can—and it might be the way that clicks with your kid.
Some kids just can’t learn certain things from their parents, and some parents just can’t teach their kids certain things. There are personality clashes. There are misunderstood explanations. And there are resulting emotions that wouldn’t come into play with someone less involved.
Kids need you, but they also need other people.
Kids need objective feedback, especially if it’s something art based. Your kid wants to know they actually did a good job on that painting, song, or dance—and that you’re not just saying it because you’re the mom.
Kids perform differently when it’s not for Mom. Think of it this way: for some people it’s really easy to stand up in front of a room of strangers and deliver a speech or sing a song. But put them in a room with their five closest friends or relatives? Suddenly their mouth is dry and they can’t remember what they were going to say.
Kids often provide a different quality of work for someone who is not Mom. Several years ago when my youngest was taking a firearms safety course, I was nervous because he’d never taken a class in a classroom setting and I wasn’t sure it was going to go all that well. But my fidgety distracted kid who (at the time) bucked me if he had to sit and write for more than .14 seconds, finished his entire firearms safety workbook without me asking him even once.
As adults, I think we can admit that we are different around our family than we are around our church congregation, and we act differently around our best friends than we do with the parents of our kids’ friends.
This same reality comes into play when your kids are learning everything from you. They’re only expressing one part of who they are, and sometimes it’s a different part of them that needs to shine in a certain situation. Maybe it’s a different part of them that needs to be learning/experiencing new things.
Friends, we are not always the best teacher for our kids.
Other people are amazing resources!
Let’s pretend you want to study how to raise chickens and you have a ton of books about it. Now let’s imagine that the internet is alive and well with sites having scads more information about it (like my other website, A Farmish Kind of Life) but you don’t have access.
That’s what it’s like when we decide we’re going to be the one and only to teach our kids.
It’s as if we are the books—and we can be really awesome, amazing, informative books—but our kids are never going to be able to pull up a video or a blog post about the current topic of interest without the internet (meaning, other teachers).
There is another reason that we’re not always the best teacher for our kids, and why other people are so awesome for teaching our kids. Other people have connections to the communities your kids need to be a part of in order to expand and soar in their ability. If your child is hardcore into oil painting, get them with the people who do that. If your son rocks at the guitar, help him find the community that will help develop that talent. If your daughter has an eye for graphic design, find her the people who can move her forward with her skills.
Let other people teach your kid and let your kid connect with other people because you know what? Your kid can be pretty inspiring to that other person, too.
Homeschooling should make your world bigger.
My parents are very smart people, but there is a lot of stuff that I didn’t learn from them. I learned about those things from other people who were brought into my life in various instances.
Sometimes we want to cocoon our kids; sometimes out of fear, but sometimes because we have this weird self-sufficient my kids don’t need anyone else sort of thing.
Don’t do this. Seriously. Do not do this.
Do not hold your kids back because of your a) fear or b) lack of knowledge on a topic or about a skill or interest your kid has. Conversely, do not hold your kids back because of your desire to show the world how much you (think you) can do.
And yes, the internet is an amazing resource full of all the things. But we can’t always just turn to the internet. My kids learned a lot about music from YouTube and Rocksmith and tab searches on Google. But there is something electrifying about having a real live person in front of them in the flesh who speaks their language and can answer their questions as they come up.
The choice is yours.
When you reach something your kids want to learn more about and you don’t have the answers, you basically have two options.
a) they can get a sub-par education from you, or,
b) an amazing education from someone else.
And this is not a slam on you, Mom. The fact that you lack knowledge and have to reach out for help doesn’t mean you’ve failed your kids. Realizing that you’re not always the best teacher for your kids doesn’t mean you have failed at giving them an all encompassing education self sufficiently.
It means you paid attention to what your kid was looking for and went on a hunt—alone or together—to figure out how to make it happen for them apart from you. You sought and found the person who could best provide that for your kid.
And the best thing about all that? You will get to see your kid light up after hearing an explanation from someone else that you could not have given them.
Well done, mom. Well done.