Good Questions

My daughter was talking with a friend recently who said she was not smart. She insisted on calling herself "dumb" because the only thing she was good at in school was science.  After thinking for a moment, my daughter told her that the only thing she really knew a lot about was ancient Egypt and that none of it would really do her any good in real life. This exchange must have been simmering in her because several days later she brought it up to me and asked me several really good questions.

I only know about Egypt because I have a passion for it. What about things I don't like? Will I be able to learn about them? Why do you think I am smart when I hardly know anything yet? 
Can you still be considered smart if you aren't great at everything?

Where to begin? I hope I got it right. In the back in forth conversation that followed, I hope she heard me clearly because those questions strike at the heart of why I choose to homeschool.

First of all I told her that no one is born with a lot of knowledge. "Smart" is what we call people who can learn relatively easily. Because she can learn, she is smart. All the knowledge she accumulated about ancient Egypt is just proof that she can learn when she tries.

Next I told her that by learning about things she is passionate about, she is discovering how to learn in a fun way. The key is that learning about boring or uninteresting topics is done in exactly the same way. Research, reading, and asking questions will serve her well even if she doesn't like what she is looking into. Learning how to gather, sort, and compile information is more important than any of the actual facts she gathers. True, it's harder and more work when you aren't interested, but it is a lot easier if you know what to do.

Lastly, I told her that nobody is good at everything. Yes, there will be subjects that just don't click easily or sometimes at all. That's okay. Do your best and focus on your strengths. Life will go on!

There you have it, one of the top ten reasons why we homeschool: I want to teach my kids how to lead themselves to knowledge rather than how to play follow-the-leader. There is absolutely no "teaching to a test" here. Our lessons, whether they are structured or not, are all based on teaching them how to think for themselves. If they can learn for the sake of learning and not to please me or a random teacher, I will feel that I did something right.

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