Today I want to talk to you about the most powerful thing you can do for your child’s education: Talk to them. Really. We think we are supposed to read to them, take them on field trips, teach them math and so much more. But the truth is that a good conversation with a caring parent will do more for your child than almost anything else.
Have a Conversation
Why do I say that? Because first of all, you care what your child thinks. You have the time and good reasons to answer their questions. Plus you have a lot of life knowledge to share with your child about many topics.
Do you know everything? Of course not. But you know a whole lot more about the world than your child does. And it is important to share with them what you know through conversations.
It is also important to realize your child won’t know certain things unless you talk to them about them. No matter how great their school or their homeschool curriculum, it won’t cover everything.
What Can You Talk About?
Here is a list of things only you can teach your child:
Your family’s history. This includes big stories of immigration, births, and deaths. It also includes little stories about how your grandparents met, who was in the military, or even silly stories. My children loved hearing the stories my grandmother told me about all the trouble my father got into as a child. No textbook on earth will tell them about those things.
Why you vote the way you do. At what age you should explain politics to your child and how is very personal. But once they are old enough, you should share your reasons. Let your child debate politics with you if they are interested. Talk about elections and why you like one candidate better than the other. Are you a one issues voter or many? Do you like who you are voting for or do you hold your nose and vote for the better candidate while wishing there were better choices on the ballot? Growing up with a parent who discusses these things will make your child more likely to vote than any civics lesson.
Secret family recipes. Okay, maybe they aren’t true secrets, but I bet you have a recipe or two with a story. Maybe you make the soup your grandmother used to make, or your Dad’s coleslaw recipe. Maybe you have a meatloaf recipe a friend gave you that your family loves. Or maybe one day you found that adding paprika to your roasted turkey recipe was amazing. You are the person that gets to share those recipes with your kids. So start doing it.
Your personal story. This one can be tricky, but it is worth thinking about what of yourself you want to share with your child and trying to do that. Did you have a goth phase? Were you a soccer star or a cheerleader? Why did you marry who you did? Did you have a career before kids that you gave up? Do you have a hobby they know nothing about? What was your favorite childhood book? Who is your favorite artist?
Just like you should work to get to know who your child is as a person, sharing yourself is a good thing to do.
Really, talk about anything!
But why else do I say that you should talk to your child? Because conversations with you allow them to learn organically without a textbook. Discussing world events can lead to a thousand tangents that teach them everything from geography to history to civics. Real conversations about their lives can help you teach your child about far more than they could learn on their own, even if they do have the internet in their pocket!
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.