Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
A note from Jamie: I’ve been thinking about this post and its message recently. It originally published on March 21, 2011. Hope you enjoy it!
We live in a distracted world. So do our kids. Information rapidfires at us from multiple directions, faster than we can process it. In fact, it’s impossible to process it all anyway.
When it comes to education, we’re encouraged to focus our efforts on the skills our kids need to learn: how to read, how to write, the five paragraph essay.
Check, check, check.
“Oh no, Stacey can’t read yet?”
“Uh oh, no multiplication tables memorized?”
The foundation of our school system, back when it originated, centered around having children learn these specific skills.
But the world has changed. If we want to send our kids off with the best chance for a full and fruitful life, we must change too.
The transformation we need to make starts in our heads, with the more than 10,000 thoughts trickling through it each day.
Teaching our children to think is the key. Here’s how.
1. Thinking Positively
Our world reeks of negativity, and we’re not always aware of the effects. They come spilling out of us: in our thoughts, our speech, our fears. But we don’t help anyone by joining ranks with the negative.
If we want our children to have the edge they need to live a joyful and productive life, a life that transforms our hurting world, it’s time to think about what we’re thinking about.
Each and every day, as homeschooling families, we add another brick to the construction of our family culture. Do we come to the breakfast table with fears and worries or do we come expecting our children to succeed in whatever path they’re led to in the future?
Through the thoughts and beliefs we nurture we model to our little ones life’s possibilities. We model what we believe they’re capable of.
2. Thinking Critically and Analytically
11 years ago as a college senior, I sat chatting with my English adviser, a mentor I admired and trusted. I nervously told him some of my concerns about graduating with an English degree. I had no plans to teach and wondered if I would ever find a job I loved. He encouraged me.
“Jamie, you’ve been given a gift that many with more “practical” majors haven’t–the chance to learn how to think. Employers in many fields are desperate for this quality–applicants who can think analytically, who can reason and come up with new ideas.”
Looking back over a decade later, I can see how right he was. (Thank you, Dr. Stokes!)
Skills are important, don’t get me wrong. Individuals with many skills make great employees and can get a lot done.
But individuals with many ideas start new endeavors. They make great leaders and visionaries. Don’t discourage your children’s ideas–don’t steal from them their ability to dream.
3. Thinking like a Leader
Leadership is not the ability to be a manager or run a business. It’s the ability to think for one’s self and then take action, thereby creating a life that serves others and makes a difference.
That means each of our children, no matter what their unique personality, has the ability to be a leader.
I first understood this truth when studying the philosophies behind Leadership Education, which states that there are three types of education. The first is the conveyor belt model, which teaches children what to think, so they can graduate and get a job. The second, the professional type of education, seeks to train experts by teaching them when to think. Outside of their narrow realm of expertise, these graduates must rely on other experts.
But leadership education focuses instead on teaching children how to think, so they will be prepared for their unique and personal mission in life–a mission of influence, a mission that changes the world.
Most of us, as homeschooling parents, didn’t grow up with that type of education–at least not from our schooling. If we have it, it’s because we’ve earned it ourselves.
Our souls sense–maybe just a little, or maybe with a desperate urgency–that our kids can have more. That they deserve more. That our world in desperate need means they must have more.
We tremble in our boots at the thought that we could be the ones to offer it to them, the ones to mentor them on their journey. We’re scared, then we’re brave; we dare, then we falter. We take a baby step of purpose, laying those bricks with sweat, tears, and prayer each and every morning.
I don’t know how to teach high school science, my algebra is rusty, and it’s been a while since I bored myself with the five paragraph essay. But here’s what I believe: My children (& yours) have seeds of genius inside them, God covers my many mistakes with amazing, daily grace, and my kids will blaze new life into dusty trails wherever their future leads them.
The foundation for that success, the type of life success that really matters, begins with this key idea:
How we think is more important than what we know.
How do you keep yourself focused on what really matters in homeschooling when it’s so easy to be distracted by your teaching to-do’s?