In the busyness of homeschooling, it’s easy to neglect taking care of ourselves. But it is important! So don’t feel guilty about developing your own interests. Pursuing things you enjoy isn’t selfish! And there are more reasons than simply self-care that you should learn something new.
Several years ago I taught myself how to crochet by watching crochet videos on You Tube. I like to make things, but I really don’t want to refinish any furniture right now and I’m not all that crafty (sorry Pinterest). I don’t even know where people find all those pallets to make tables out of! So crochet seemed like a fairly inexpensive hobby that would also be useful.
But trying to learn how to crochet taught me more than simply how to crochet. I believe the experience benefited my kids as well. Why?
1. We model life-long learning when we learn something new.
I’ve often heard homeschoolers say they want their kids to be life-long learners, to realize that education doesn’t only happen at school (wherever that may be), or for a certain number of “school” years. But how will my children see life-long learning as a priority if I never try to learn anything new? It would be like me telling my sons they need to eat vegetables as I load my own plate with steak and bacon, bypassing the greens.
I’m modeling my desires for my children to my children. Modeling is a powerful educational tool. For example, if I want my kids to believe reading is important, I’ll make sure they see me reading too. If I don’t, they may not see it as a valuable, life-long skill because my words and actions don’t match. (And, yes, I’ll eat my vegetables, too.) Modeling shows our children we believe what we say.
Hopefully, seeing me learn a new skill as an adult encourages a mindset that they, too, can learn new skills both now and when they get older. Whether it is crochet, blogging, painting, or a computer program, when we choose to learn something new, we are teaching the value of life-long learning to our children.
2. We sympathize with their struggles when we learn something new.
Learning crochet, or any new skill, can be frustrating! I wanted to give up at times. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Why did my scarf turn into a triangle?
Because we already know how to do things like percents and fractions, we can forget that learning a new concept is hard work. By learning new things ourselves—and experiencing just how difficult it can be—we can better empathize with how our children feel as they encounter frustration.
And it gives us practical ideas of how to help them push through those frustrations and not give up. For me, I had to watch the video multiple times, pausing and trying as I went along. It was tedious, but in the end I was able to figure it out.
We will know from experience that by pushing through those unpleasant feelings, we get to a point of understanding. Frustration is simply a part of the process.
3. We recognize not everyone learns the same way when we learn something new.
There are a lot of books with diagrams that show how to crochet, but they made no sense to me. I needed to see someone doing it. I found it difficult to learn from just the diagrams, but after watching the videos of people crocheting, the diagrams began to make sense.
Just like my kids, I learn best when it aligns with my personal learning style. My guess is that you, too, have discovered what works with you.
Experiencing this makes us aware of how important it is to find the best way to teach each of our kids. When one method doesn’t work, we may just need to change the method! That flexibility in how we approach teaching and learning is often the key to finding success.
4. We find new resources when we learn something new.
When I tried to figure out how to crochet, I discovered a new learning resource. I didn’t see much value in watching You Tube until I explored it myself. Yes, there are a lot of things people can waste their time on with You Tube, but there are also some valuable learning opportunities. I wouldn’t recommend letting your kids sit and surf it on their own, but with your guidance it can be a powerful tool. I would have missed this resource if I had not tried to learn something on my own.
Technology has opened up a whole new world of opportunities. When we try to learn new things, we discover just how vast that world has become—for both our children and us.
So Learn Something New
In the last several years I’ve learned about crocheting, photography, writing, and blogging. All of these have opened up new opportunities and adventures for me. And that is exactly what I want for my children.
Learning something new will benefit both you and your children. What have you wanted to learn? Why not see it as an opportunity to teach your kids about life-long learning instead of a luxury you will do when the kids get a little older? Now might be the best time.
This post was adapted from the article Learn Something New appearing in Homeschooling Today Magazine.