The Benefits of “I Don’t Know” for a Homeschool Parent: Learning How to Learn

One of the true blessings of homeschooling is that I get to learn about everything along with my brilliant, curious, and excited children. Strangely, I learn the most from the “I don’t know” questions because my own self-directed learning is then interest-led. I am invested in finding the answer so I’ll know next time.

This is a great way for my children to learn to. They need to know that it is okay to not know the answer. It’s not possible to know it all. Also, it is possible to find answers, and it might take work to do so.

“I Don’t Know” Is an Opportunity

At the time of this writing, my children are 11, 7, and 3, and I love the broad range of interests they have together. In some ways my oldest is now surpassing me in understanding in some concepts that I never had an interest for. For example, he can tell you a lot about the local road construction process and he can recognize the names of the elements on the periodic table, along with who discovered them and when. He can also expound about the science fiction he’s enjoyed.

So many times my children asks me perplexing things. I answer the best I can, but there are those times when I simply do not know. I must say “I don’t know.” Our ready answer is usually, “Let’s go google it!” I guess those of us who have Alexa and ask for help directly too!

So I am learning from my oldest about science (a subject I never warmed to as a youngster), and with my second child I am exploring eras in American history with the American girl books. I wonder what my kids will be curious about next month? I learn along with them, and my example of how to find answers is teaching them how to learn what they don’t know.

Homeschooling is My Own Curriculum

A few years back, I decided to teach my son American history. I was not very happy with the things I had bought and the things I found out there for dealing with American history. As a result, I ended up piecing together my own curriculum.

Finding subjects to explore with my kids let me work with my children’s various levels: young children, with short attention spans, as well as an older child who reads a lot. As a result I ended up developing various games and projects, as well finding lots of picture books. To do so, I read more detailed young readers and even adult nonfiction books to help me focus on the subjects that seemed most important.

It was as if I myself was taking an advanced course in American history. I guess we can pretend that homeschooling is my education as well as my children’s!

Re-Learning as an Adult is More Fun

As I taught myself American history along with my children, I found that learning was much more fun than I remembered. I got fascinated by the subject my kids were learning about, and I wanted to learn more. Even reading children’s books (there are so many amazing nonfiction ones), I felt I was learning details for the first time. I like some subjects more than my kids do!

Sometimes I feel sad that I cannot delve even deeper in to the fascinating facts and details. The cliche phrase “So Many Books, So Little Time” feels almost like a taunt. It’s so true. As well as wanting a stronger history background, I am fascinated by various scientific subject that I am relearning (for what seems the first time). There is also mathematics to re-learn, and science topics to delve into once again. But there simply is not time to do it all.

Is it a blessing or a curse to love everything?

The great news is that as an adult I now get to choose what course I want to study! I can keep reading my American Revolution books after the children move on. This is self-directed learning, and this is why I try to help my kids find their own answers when they say “I don’t know!”

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