This post originally ran last year, but I still think about this ALL THE TIME. with my kids. You don’t have to know it all. I promise.
Do you remember that episode of Arrested Development when Michael asks George Michael, “What do we always say is the most important thing?”
“Breakfast,” George Michael responds.
“Oh right. Family. I thought you meant of the things we eat.”
This post isn’t about breakfast or family, at least not directly, but it is about what’s important, maybe most important, when you’re considering teaching your kids:
Realizing that you don’t have to know it all.
You can’t. I don’t care if you graduated top in your class. I don’t care if you have multiple doctorates.
I don’t care if you have The Intersect in your brain.
Somewhere, you have a weakness.
Maybe it’s art.
Maybe it’s sitting on the floor and playing with trains with a pre-schooler.
We all have places where we come up short, and that’s OK, because we all have something else. Something amazing — we all have the ability to learn.
I so often hear people say that they want to homeschool — would love to homeschool — but they can’t because they don’t know how they would teach chemistry, English, sewing …
But as long as we want to find out new information; as long as we want to grow; as long as we’re willing to give things a shot — it will be OK.
I first learned how much I didn’t know as a newspaper reporter.
I loved my job and all the surprises. As a general interest reporter, I covered whatever landed on my desk.
Too many dead fish in the nearby stream; chemicals leaching into the ground from the abandoned factory behind our office … One day, a guy ended up in the morgue with a shoe print on his forehead.
“What’s that mean, exactly?” I asked the coroner.
“Somebody kicked this guy in the head.”
(As a journalism major, this was officially more science than I had studied in years, and always facing a 10 p.m. deadline, I had to become a very quick learner.)
The biggest lesson that reporting taught me was that you don’t have to know the answers — you just need to know where to find them.
Sometimes, it’s the Internet. Sometimes it’s a person.
Sometimes to get the answers, you need to go somewhere, look around, ask questions.
Sometimes, you need to stick your head in a book and not come out until you get it.
I feel so lucky to have worked in newspapers before my kids were born, because I feel like this is a lesson I can share with them each day.
When they were little, they so often had smaller questions: How do you spell blue? Can penguins fly? Where is Germany?
I had quick answers.
But as they grow, and as their questions grow with them, I often find myself at a loss.
I just don’t know.
(We can’t always know. Not everything.)
So instead I consider: Where can we get the answer, together.
Can we go to the library? Can we go online? Can we find an expert?
Do we know someone who loves birds or calligraphy? Where is the closest museum with a geology display?
How do we figure it out?
I’m not a perfect homeschooling mom. I have places where I fall short, and places where I overcompensate, and places where I’m just making it up as I go along, frankly.
But what I try to teach my kids is to not be intimidated by the unknown and instead, to focus on where to go to get the answer.
That isn’t always easy or immediate.
But often, I think it’s the most important thing when it comes to creating a lifetime love of learning.
So don’t let what you don’t know hold you back.
Let it get you started.