Nurturing Your Child for Success

Albert Einstein once said, “It is, in fact, nothing short a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.”

I like the plant analogy, especially here at the beginning of spring. Our innate desire to learn is like a seedling.

You don’t have to convince it to grow. You don’t even have to show it how to grow. All it needs is the right conditions and it will produce flowers or fruits or vegetables.

That’s another thing about plants–there are a million varieties!

That led me to ponder…

If kids are like plants, what do they need to succeed?

1. Sunshine

I see this as the love, affection, and feelings of safety a child needs as the foundation for emotional health.

2. A Constant Supply of Clean Air

This is a home atmosphere that is loving, affirming, and encouraging at all hours of the day and night.

And when we parents fall short, we can “clear the air” with honest apologies and lots of positive interaction.

3. Fresh Water

These are the moments of refreshment and rest you provide your child. Most kids have breaking points–that’s when an observant parent pulls him away, takes him out for a treat, or just lets him have time alone.

This is what’s missing in traditional schooling; kids face too much stress and not enough rest.

4. Nutrient-Rich Soil

These are the books and experiences you provide your child that feed her “holy curiosity,” as Einstein puts it.

5. Space to Spread their Roots

This is the freedom to explore, fail, and experiment.

As homeschooling parents, we tend to be overprotective. Recognize that fact and allow yourself a little discomfort as you give your child some space. Chances are, you’ll find the perfect balance.

6. Continual Weeding

One person’s weed is another person’s flower. Just because you don’t like their music, doesn’t mean it’s okay to throw it out.

Think of weeding as side-stepping the unuseful. Provide positive and productive alternatives to the choices in his environment. If he doesn’t like that choice, figure out why and keep trying.

At the end of the growing season, what kinds of plants will they be? What benefit will they offer the world? That’s the fun of parenting…watching in wonder as they blossom before our eyes.

Parenting and homeschooling are not that complicated. Keep the basics in mind and don’t kill your seedlings.

Let them enjoy their childhood with parents who value their individuality–and let them savor learning, weeding out anything that might “strangle their curiosity.”

Do you agree? Are kids like plants? What kinds of kid-plants are growing in your house (and don’t say weeds!)?


About Jena Borah

Jena Borah homeschooled her three children all the way to college. She blogs about her homeschooling years and her interest-led philosophy at Yarns of the Heart.


  1. Such a wonderful post. And such a great way to think about our kids.

    I also think of them as individuals – so unique in form like every plant – and I try to cherish that.

    I love my kids … they are a lot more active that plants though 🙂

  2. I love this analogy! Great post 🙂 I would say I have sunflowers!
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s last blog: Storing and Organizing Photos: The Mess =-.

  3. First post I read this morning and it’s just beautiful!!! I think the plants growing in our home vary from day to day – sometimes prickly cacti, sometimes functional vegetables, sometimes spectacular flowers and often flavorful fruit… And #3, Fresh Water, is my favorite gardening necessity to grow the little plants in our home… Thanks for a great start!!!

  4. I think boredom is a key component, too, and probably falls under number 5. Parents are often scared to let their kids have nothing to do (“Oh no! Wasted time!”), but think of the life of a plant—it appears boring and yet there is so much stuff we can’t see going on below the surface.
    .-= Jennifer Jo’s last blog: Playing Martha =-.

    • Yes! Just because it looks like nothing is going on doesn’t mean that’s true. Kids love to think, explore, and figure things out, and it’s important that we give them that chance.

      I once read about Louis Pasteur. As a teenager, he would sit for hours, just watching the sky or drawing. Later in life, he just stared into a microscope for hours until he saw cells divide and made amazing discoveries. Patiently doing “nothing” can be very productive.
      .-= Jena’s last blog: Einstein and Education =-.

  5. Oh, how I needed to be reminded of this today.

    Right now I would call my 3.5 year old a cactus. She’s in a “prickly” stage in life. I’m going to keep coming back to this post to help me stay focused on the beautiful flowers that will bloom if I keep “tending” to her.


  6. I appreciated your point about keeping the air clear. With so much time spent together, it’s easy for friction to occur, and for minor offenses to accumulate into hardened feelings. I never realized, before kids, how hard it would be to humble myself and apologize! But it’s always so worth it, and the relationship feels sweeter and stronger afterward.
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: Math for Jedi Knights =-.

  7. I like your post. I believe that need to learn to love to learn, not be forced to learn..

  8. I love it! I totally agree. I just need to put it into action. My boys are 3 years, and 20 months (#3 due any day now), and I love all this knowledge to prepare me for the real homeschooling. This is pretty much my MIL’s philosophy in a nutshell. I love it. Thank you!

  9. My friend, and wonderful gardener, Sadie told me once when I was worried about killing my roses, that “green things just want to grow” …. I thought of her quote a lot while I was reading this.

    Our “plants” just want to grow and thrive … I love this analogy and this column. Thank you! 🙂
    .-= Kara’s last blog: Let’s Talk: Rhythm and Routines When Life Changes – What Works for You? =-.

  10. Jena,
    I love this analogy. Although my husband says I have a brown thumb, but when it comes to my little ones they are growing and thriving. #4 is what interested me. There are so many things I want to share and explore with them I have to realize we can’t do it all. I just have to pick and choose a few things and know that we don’t need a whole lot to enjoy each others company. Great post, this is a keeper in my schooling file.
    .-= Rana’s last blog: It’s the Law! =-.


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