When I teach a workshop I leave time for questions. It’s often silent for a several seconds before someone is brave enough to speak up. There have been times when no question has been asked. But after the session, several people come to me with very good questions. Sometimes I want to say, “You should have asked that in the session. I bet others want to know the same information.”
Why? Even as adults, we are afraid our questions will appear stupid. Even as adults, we are afraid to ask for help. If we are afraid of being thought of as stupid or helpless, imagine what our children might feel.
Do we homeschool parents convey the message that our children should know everything? Do we make them think they can’t make mistakes? Do we expect our precious kiddos to be perfect?
Successful people are those who admit they don’t know things and seek advice. Their success comes by pushing through mistakes and learning from them. Someone who has had success has also had failures.
How can we teach our children it’s o.k. to mess up once in a while?
- Admit your own failings. Our example is the best teacher for our children. The mistake may be putting too much flour in the cookie recipe or may be yelling when we shouldn’t. For one kind of mistake, we laugh. The other we say “I’m sorry” and ask forgiveness. When our children see how we react to our blunders they learn how to respond to their mistakes.
- Don’t expect perfect schoolwork. If you went to a traditional school, was every assignment perfectly completed? Were you required to go back and correct every mistake? I doubt it. I’m not sure why homeschoolers have the perfection expectation. I think some of it comes from the early days of the modern homeschool movement when we felt compelled to prove ourselves by the academic success of our children. I now know the stress my children felt.
- Show how to learn from mistakes. When our children consistently make the same mistake, we need to help them find out why and help them correct it. As a former classroom teacher, I saw my colleagues have children write a misspelled word ten or even twenty times. However, if the child doesn’t understand the basic concept, the busy work of writing words isn’t going to help in the future.
When our kiddos are little, they asked us “Why?” at least 4,382 times a day. Now it’s our turn. Ask “Why do you have a hard time remembering ‘i before e except after c or when it says a as in neighbor’?” After talking through the problem, kids often come up with their own solution.
Every successful person I know (and you can measure success however you wish) is someone willing to admit they don’t know everything. Success, whether homeschool or life, comes from pushing through mistakes and growing. It comes from managing and learning from failure. It comes from getting over the fear others will think you’re not amazing if you don’t know everything.
It’s scary to be wrong. It stinks to make mistakes. You might mess up from time to time. I sure do. It’s what you do next that matters.