We’re going to take a break today from talking about composting and growing plants to talk about what we as caregivers need to do to nurture our children’s love of learning and living.

I have heard and read many stories over the last two weeks about overwhelmed caregivers, new to home schooling, pulling their hair out because they have not been trained to cover the content their young charges are expected to absorb while they’re learning at home. This is not a surprising situation. Public schools are designed to cover content and teachers are trained in how to do that; caregivers generally are not.

I have some good news and some better news. The good news is that absorbing content is not really what your child needs right now. The better news is that you are more qualified and are in a way better situation to give your children what they need than overworked teachers in overcrowded public schools are (we cap our home school enrichment classes at 6).

I believe that one of the most important things any of us can learn during our lifetimes is how to find activities that we love to do and how to turn what we love to do into something that is meaningful and productive for ourselves and hopefully for others as well. I believe this lesson is far more important than learning how to add fractions with different denominators or the date that the declaration of independence was signed.

Certainly, there is a body of knowledge required to be fully functional in any culture. Some refer to this as core-knowledge. Beyond being fully functional, being self-actualized requires each of us to find our calling, the activities that bring us joy and fulfillment. Generally, we are called to engage in activities that are a good match with our gifts, challenges, interests and experiences.

I would argue that most if not all human achievements where attained by people that knew their own gifts, challenges and passions and chased them to greatness. Once we’ve tasted success resulting from sustained effort at pursuing something we love, it gets easier to do the next time. The ability to figure out our path in life and to walk that path with joy and determination is probably the most important thing we could possibly get from our educational experiences.

In addition, to learning how to create a life we love, learning through the pursuit of our passions invariably also results in acquiring our core cultural knowledge that form the basis of much of what is tested by college entrance exams and by the college experience. 

Children learn how do find activities they love to do, first by being asked and then by being given the freedom and support to discover what lights them up. They also learn a lot about pursuing their passions by watching people they love pursue theirs!

As someone who knows your child(ren)’s gifts, challenges and passions and as someone that your child(ren) are predisposed to imitate, you are in a unique position to help them find something they are passionate about and to share your passions with.

So, my advice to you for today is twofold: (1) talk with your child(ren) about what they love to do and help them do that, and (2) do something you love to do with your child(ren). 

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