Homeschooling: Trusting In Yourself and Your Child
By Linda Dobson
John Holt, often credited as the “granddaddy of homeschooling,” in his landmark book How Children Learn (Dell, 1967), boiled down the complicated business of helping children learn into just two words: “Trust children.” This sounds so simple, but in our culture it just may be the hardest task to accomplish. Why? Holt explained it’s difficult “because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”
This may explain our willingness to rely on the advice of experts in many areas of life, including education. While in some cases their advice does make the initial trouble go away, what are the consequences when we relinquish responsibility this way?
“Relying on ‘experts’ to solve our probelms leaves us feeling even more dependent on others, less self-assured of our ability to manage our own lives, and more likely to run to yet another ‘expert’ in the future,” I wrote in The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self (15th anniversary edition of this homeschooling e-book). “Our immediate problem has vanished, but the side effects of dependency never go away.” Under such conditions we can become alienated from our own feelings, thoughts, and choices.
Accepting Responsibility with Homeschooling
When we take responsibility instead of relegating it to an expert, we get back in touch with those feelings and thoughts that are unique to our situation and unavailable to outside experts. Before long, we can increase trust in ourselves and the choices we make.
A basic habit of homeschooling parents, then, is trust in onself, in the validity of our thoughts and feelings and in our ability to make choices and take intelligent action accordingly. When it comes to our children, who has the most current and intimately informed connection? It’s we parents, of course. And aren’t up-to-date and well-informed folks in any field called “experts?”
As your child’s parent, trust that you possess the love and wisdom necessary to provide whatever help he needs in his ongoing flight toward independence. When you reclaim your natural gifts in this regard, you will find it easier to trust your children. You will trust that they contain within them the seed of desire to learn, and you will begin to see your role as that of a learning guide, much like a gardener whose job it is to help that seed grow.
Homeschooling Is Much Like Gardening
A gardener knows she cannot force a seed to grow. She cannot make a marigold seed blossom into a rose. She cannot change the seed in any fundamental way. Instead, she protects the young seed from potentially harmful conditions that through her experience she knows can limit growth. She nourishes it and creates an environment that encourages the seed to reach its full potential. She accepts that all the seeds in her garden will not sprout on the same day, nor will they all blossom on the same day, nor will they wind up with an equal number of flowers. Doing all that she can to help, at the same time she trusts the nature of the seeds to grow.
You can help your child excel by trusting the innate, natural human tendency to grow and learn, and then creating an environment that will best support this. Once you develop the habit of trust in yourself and your child, you’ll find it easier to reclaim responsibility essential to homeschooling your children.