Ten things you need to teach your children

I just finished reading a great book on homeschooling by John Holt called Teach Your Own.

One of my favorite things in the book are some points he made on pages 45 and 46 about what is required to teach your children:

  • You must like your children. You must enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, foolishness and passion.
  • You must enjoy their talk and questions and you should equally enjoy trying to answer those questions.
  • You must think of your children as close friends and feel happier when they are near and miss them when they are away.
  • You must trust them as people.
  • You must respect their fragile dignity.
  • You must treat them with courtesy.
  • You must take them seriously.
  • You must feel in your own heart some of the children’s wonder, curiosity and excitement about the world.
  • You must have enough confidence in yourself and enough skepticism about what the “experts” say.
  • You must be willing to be different from most people and ready to take on the responsibility of your child’s learning.

I’ve been thinking about parent’s relationships with their children a lot lately.  This past winter has been especially unkind here in Ohio and there have been a lot of snow days.  I have heard many parents complaining about their kids being home and driving them crazy and how based on those few days, they know they could never homeschool their children.

I definitely do not judge people when I hear them make comments about how they can’t wait for their kids to go back to school.  I used to be one of those parents.  I know these parents love their children.  They just aren’t used to having their kids home and disrupting their routine.  In our society, sending our kids away is the norm and so we haven’t really trained ourselves how to handle having them in our presence.  I’m not speaking for all parents.  Some parents seem to have a natural inclination for playing and interacting with their children regardless of their school choice.  I’m referring to the parents who are so exasperated by the very presence of our children.

Perhaps homeschooling really is not a viable option for your family at this time.  However, whether we homeschool or send our kids to a learning institution, learning still must happen at home. These points should not serve to make us feel guilty.  We parents seem to be quite good at making ourselves feel guilty without someone else doing that for us.   The reality is there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

What we can do is review the points above and honestly examine where we can work on improving our feelings toward our children so we can be the best teachers possible to them.

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  1. John Holt is amazing, isn’t he? I’ve never read Teach Your Own, but his book Learning All the Time is what gave me the conviction to start unschooling. I just bought his other book How Children Learn but haven’t read it, yet. I’m looking forward to it, though.


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