Back in April, I told you that you shouldn’t let your kids learn alone. Today is our first day of our new school year, and in keeping with the spirit of that blog post, I’m trying to take a new approach to our school day.
As my kids get older, they are more and more able to work independently. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I can just tell them to “do school” and consider my job as teacher done for the day. I still need to be available to actively teach, to answer questions, to check work, and otherwise facilitate their learning. This means that my work, which requires a lot of focus and concentration as well as a decent chunk of time to actually accomplish something, isn’t really something I can use to fill the time when they don’t need me.
I’ve usually filled that time, because it was usually very small gaps, with what I would call “timekillers.” These would be things that don’t require a ton of time, any focused attention, or much effort. Things like checking my Facebook newsfeed.
This year, however, I anticipate the gaps being a bit larger. But since I still need to be immediately available, work is still out. So what I’ll be doing, instead, is some of my own learning.
What am I currently learning? A couple of things, actually.
- My ancestry. I’ve always been fascinated by genealogy and my family tree, and have worked on it off and on throughout the years. But I plan to start making a more concentrated effort this year to get more stories, more details, and hopefully, more relatives, on the limbs of the tree this year. Searching through old records, and other details I find online requires some focus, but it’s not something that I can’t easily pull myself away from if the kids need me, and it’s definitely fun and interesting to me.
- Improving my writing. Even if you’re a published author, you still look for ways to improve and make things better. I’m working on this in a few ways. Right now, I have three books that I’m learning from: Blogging For Writers by Robin Houghton, The Writer’s Workout by Christina Katz, and Write and Revise for Publication by Jack Smith. Each of these books will hopefully teach me something new or improve upon skills I already have to make my books even better (or in the case of the first book, my blog.). For the most part, they all have either short chapters, or are written in a way that allows me to tackle a small chunk of a chapter in a short amount of time.
My studying is, of course, different than the studying my kids are doing. They’re still learning a lot of basics, and what I’m learning may seem a bit unnecessary or unimportant.
The key thing to remember is that it’s not what you learn that matters, but that you learn. It doesn’t matter if you learn how to hula hoop, or go back to
school to become a brain surgeon. It doesn’t matter if you use actual books, ebooks, websites, or personal experience to learn. What matters is that you take the time to learn something.
It also matters that you learn alongside them. I have time to kill when my kids are studying. I could kill that time a lot of ways – I could read for pleasure, I could turn on the TV and watch a show, I could scroll Facebook as I have in the past. But instead, I’m going to sit beside my kids so they can see me learning with them. I could do that after they’re done with school for the day – it would allow me to focus more, and potentially make more progress. But it’s not all about the progress for me. Yes, I want to learn and I want to be able to implement what I learn. But I also want my kids to see that I’m learning. So if that means that it takes me a little longer to finish a book and implement what I’ve learned from it, then so be it.
I can live with that.