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It Costs $30.08 to Educate a Child

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It Costs $30.08 to Educate a Child

By Linda Dobson

I started off this beautiful summer morning by reading a heart-warming story to which I shared a link on Parent at the Helm’s Facebook page. It’s called simply “Wood Tape,” by Scott Nesin. I hope you’ll read it, too.

Guy Gives Dad an Education

Scott, the Dad, tells the story of Guy, four years-old, who wants to go to the store over the weekend. He needs tape. Wood tape, to be exact. Dad enjoys hardware stores and readily agrees. The story unfolds in the store where, once Guy finds the tape he wants, he now also needs red and black paint. Dad suggests brushes. Then Guy needs wood. He is, Dad discovers, going to build a table. Not just a table. A table for his tree house.

plans1 education

We get an 8-foot board to quarter for the top. We talk about using screws to hold the table together.
“Is there anything else you need?” I ask, holding my breath.
“No, we have screws at home.”
I don’t ask twice this time. We get out of Home Depot for $30.08, plus some cash back. Not too bad.

After lunch, Dad and Guy get to work. Dad asks if the top will be red with black legs? Both colors all the way around? No. “We need to tape squares.” Checkerboard squares. He wants to play checkers on it. From here, Dad will finish the story.

I am momentarily paralyzed. THAT’S what all this has been about! That is such a cool table! Why didn’t I think of that? What could be more quaint, more classic, more Norman Rockwell than a checkerboard table in a tree house? I still can’t move as a flood of recognition hits me: THAT’S what this has been about the whole time! He had all of this planned from the beginning. The tape, the table, its purpose, its placement, the paint, the colors, everything. Delight, pride, gratitude, disbelief, shock, and more and more pride, all swelling and swirling together. I can’t think, I can’t focus. My four-year-old wasn’t showing me pictures, he was showing me blueprints. He certainly was not impulse shopping, he knew exactly what he needed, every step of the way. He had been looking for the blue masking tape we had used when painting his room. I had thought he wanted the tape to hold the pieces of the table together, but he knew to use screws for that. He wanted to tape the wood to mask the squares for painting. There is not an adult who could have planned it better or more thoroughly. Now I’m fighting back tears of pride, and my heart is about to burst.

Trust: Prerequisite of True Education

Think of how differently this may have played out. What if Dad wrote this off as a childish whim and said, “I don’t have time for that this weekend. And what the heck is ‘wood tape,’ anyway?” What if he had insisted Guy spell out what he was doing, then decided it wasn’t worth the time or money or assistance the project required? What if Dad just said no?

See also "Homeschooling: You Know Your Kids and Like Them!"

If your child is in school, think about his day. Is it ever possible for a teacher to provide the necessary time to honor creative expression? Would anyone in the school devote the time or money or assistance necessary to honor your child’s interest? Would anyone trust him? School education (and I use the term education loosely), ensconced in a system, provides no room for trust and recognition of individuals.

What if? What if your child spent his days with the people who can honor his creative expression and interests? What if those people did so with complete trust that he harbors a natural, healthy drive to explore his interests that blossom into creative expressions?

There is no thing you could buy him, there is no school you could pay for, there is no gift you can provide him greater than trust in him. Living with trust, he will learn with joy.

Do not let the cost of government schooling fool you. Want a lesson – and love – that will last forever for your child – and you?

It costs $30.08 to educate a child.

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3 Responses to “It Costs $30.08 to Educate a Child”

  1. kathy balman says:

    Wow great post and article! I love it!

  2. grandma_linda says:

    Thank you, Kathy…it really rings true, doesn't it?

  3. Beverley says:

    Another great post by Linda! It is so true, we totally underestimate what our children know and understand and all too often misinterpret their questions as our brains are fogged with assumptions and expectations!

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