What your homeschooler REALLY needs to know ~ Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
A Note from Jamie: This is Melissa’s final post here on Simple Homeschool. She has been writing in this space since 2014 – read her very first post here! I’ve been so inspired by her perspective, her approach to education, her sincerity, and her clear depth of love and commitment to her children. We’ll miss you, Melissa!
A few weeks ago, my son Owen was packing for a study abroad trip. He had just finished his second year of college, and instead of spending the whole summer break at home, he was getting ready to board a plane in Los Angeles to take him to a university in Denmark for the next few weeks. As we looked over his luggage piled by the front door, I took a deep breath and thought: He has everything he needs.
And then in the very next breath I panicked just a little, because: Wait, DOES HE?
Sure, he had a power converter and an international debit card and a change of clothes in his carry-on. But what I really needed to know was this: Had we given him everything he needed to go out into the world, across the ocean and onto another continent? To make his own choices? To be an adult in the world?
Did he have everything he needed?
What your homeschooler REALLY needs to know before they leave home
Sure, our kids need to learn math, science, history, and writing. I promise, we worked our way through calculus, chemistry, and To Kill a Mockingbird. And yes, they need to learn life skills: how to cook spaghetti, how to plan a budget, how to navigate a bus route or call a Lyft.
But if we missed teaching them a fact here or there, they have the whole internet at their disposal. They’ll figure stuff out. As I stood there, surveying the luggage, I wasn’t really worried about whether we had taught him the quadratic equation, just like I wasn’t really worried about whether he had packed enough socks.
He had a pretty thorough packing list for his trip. It’s harder to come up with a complete list of Everything Our Kids Need To Be Happy, Healthy, Functional Adults.
My list includes things like:
To know who they are, and that they are worthy just because they exist.
To believe in their own ability to do stuff, to make choices, and to sort things out.
To know how to ask for help when they need it.
To know that they aren’t going to agree with everyone they meet, but that there’s a difference between disagreeing and dehumanizing. We do the first one, not the second one.
To know that they’re going to keep learning more about themselves and the world forever. Learning is a lifelong job. We all have tenure and nobody retires.
Did we give him all those things?
I could probably come up with twenty more things that feel just as vital. There’s no test for any of it. I don’t know!
But even as I was trying to figure out if he had everything he needed, I realized that the answer is in the list. Learning is a lifelong project.
Our kids will keep learning this stuff forever.
Yes, we’ve taught them the things we think they need to know, sometimes explicitly, sometimes just by living. But they’re still learning. They’re not done growing, just like we’re not done growing.
Owen knows this stuff, and he’ll keep learning it by living.
We’ll still be in conversation about these things, maybe forever. I’ll keep learning new things to tell my kids. They’ll keep learning new things to teach me, too.
And if that’s the plan, then they have what they need.
I think that might actually be enough.
Spoiler alert: Owen made it to Denmark just fine. He really did have everything he needed.
Even if your own list of All The Things Our Kids Need To Be Happy, Healthy, Functional Adults might differ from mine, remember this: It is enough.
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