Last Updated on February 17, 2022 by Sarah McCubbin
You were your child’s education expert from the moment you knew your child was coming. You paid attention. At times, some might have said you were obsessed. You cared about that baby before it was born…or if they were adopted, you cared before you knew really knew much about them. From the food they eat, to the emotional energy around them and their own unique preferences, you know it all. You are an expert.
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What Is an Education Expert?
The dictionary defines an expert as “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.” Another is “having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.”
This does not mean that experts know EVERYTHING there is to know on a topic! COVID has definitely taught us that “experts” don’t know everything and are far from perfect! But you are the BEST person to oversee your child’s education..never doubt that.
As a parent you clearly have the most authoritative knowledge when it comes to your child. No one knows them like you…they simply cannot. Our culture likes to tell us that we must defer to the REAL experts…the ones who have degrees in education, medicine, or psychology. But as your child’s parent, YOU are the expert on your child. You don’t need a degree for that. You don’t need special letters after your name other than M.O.M. or D.A.D.
So when you are beginning to consider how you will educate your child…or how you want to change the education they are currently getting, it is important that you develop confidence in yourself as a parent. This can be difficult because our own parents were not perfect. Not everyone had great parents themselves that taught them that their own voice was valuable.
As an education expert for your child, you can expect that you will look at them…the whole package…and make decisions based on their strengths, weaknesses, interests and personality. Knowing what you know, you will choose the educational option(s) that will best support their giftings and help them become the best version of themselves.
How Do You Educate Your Child in a World Gone Crazy?
The world has gone crazy over the last 2 years! Families have found themselves scrambling more than once and many have decided to reevaluate their educational choices. In order to talk about this, we will cover 5 main points.
- Developing confidence in yourself
- How to form your philosophy of education.
- How to implement your philosophy
- How to find unity with your spouse
- How to deal with people who disagree with your new philosophy
Develop Confidence In Yourself
So lets start with that first one. As you educate your child or think about their education, you can step forth with confidence. As an expert, you don’t need to know everything. Your job is simply to know that you know your child the best. From that position, you can methodically review resources and opportunities that will be best for your child.
Most of my friends are other moms, so I will speak from that place of experience. Often other moms will say things to each other like, “Do you think it is ok if I do Fill in the Blank.” Moms talk about an endless number of topics when it comes to parenting. You know how moms do this. We talk about everything from home birth vs hospital births and cloth vs disposable diapers to whether we will let our kids watch screens and then of course all kinds of things related to education and mental health. But when someone says, “Do you think it’s ok if I do XYZ,” I hear many moms speaking from a place of self-doubt.
You don’t need me to agree with you to feel confident about your decision-making.
In many ways, parenting is like math. What experiences and education do I need to add together to get the result I want. If there is a negative behavior, what needs to be subtracted from my child’s life that is contributing to that negative behavior….maybe technology or certain relationships. As a parent, you may see what needs to be added…and others might not agree. But that is ok. You may see what needs to be subtracted…and others may not agree…and that is ok.
If you are constantly dependent on the affirmation of others in how you parent, you are setting yourself up for constant disapproval. You can’t really make everyone happy… it is literally not possible. And you might make yourself and your family crazy by constantly trying new things when a friend or expert offers direction.
I remember when my oldest son was 2 years old. He was the first grandchild and a hyper ball of energy. If he wasn’t bouncing on the furniture, he was cracking eggs on the kitchen floor. He would constantly run off if I turned my back when we were outside. There were lots of “blind spots” in our neighborhood with tall buildings and fences so it was easy for him to hide. One time he was a block away (a small block) before we found him. A crossing guard saw him trying to cross the street into the park by himself…at 2 years old. Needless to say, we got a lot of feedback and a lot of suggestions from family and friends. On top of that, I was pouring through parenting books figuring out how to keep this kid alive. Some of the advice we received was good and helpful…and others not so much. Ultimately, we had to take the situation and really sort through information to come up with the best strategies for our son. If we had tried to follow all the advice…we would have felt even crazier than we already felt.
So how does this relate when it comes to your child’s education. As a parent, one of the most important decisions you make will be how you decide to educate your child. I’m not just talking about public, private or homeschooling. This also applies to daycare or preschool…or even family members who watch your kids. The people who educate and care for your child will have a great deal of influence on your child. They will shape their view of learning and of themselves. Oftentimes, we make our childcare decisions in haste or without a lot of thought. Children spend on average about 7 hours a day in school….over 1000 hours a year! That is a lot of time for someone to influence your child in who they are becoming.
Your influence at home is equally important but if I can default to my math analogy, it is important to add things to your child life that lead to the results you want. If you take your influence…and add the influence of education and caregivers, that equals an effect on your child’s life. It will affect their confidence, their excitement, their academics and their future.
How Do You Form An Education Philosophy?
Do you have a parenting philosophy? That is, do you have high-level guiding principals that affect how you raise your child? When your child is grown, what kind of person do you want them to be? What kind of character do you want them to have? Do you want them to be able to go to college if they want to? Do you want them to be well-spoken? Do you want them to know how to take care of their body?
These are high-level questions but important to ask because they provide a general guide that will help you determine things like the education you will provide. If you have never considered the idea of a parenting philosophy, that is ok. I didn’t either really until I had quite a few kids. I simply prayed, “Lord, please don’t let me mess this up!” And as simple as that was, He has honored that prayer.
Over time, we did begin to create an educational philosophy for our kids. It has been adjusted over time as we have been exposed to different types of education and realized what was and was not working for our kids.
Our own parenting education philosophy comes from our primary goal is to educate our kids to love the Lord and to be in a relationship with Him throughout their whole lives. We want to raise children who are confident, well-spoken, and hard-working who know who they are, and who are not afraid to go be who God made them to be. We want them to be leaders who love people and who are able to share the promises of God with those around them.
Now everyone is going to have a different parenting and education philosophy. My education philosophy is about the end goals I want it to achieve. Others may have an educational philosophy that reflects a certain kind of learning. Either way, you want your education philosophy to reflect your personal goals for your child and family.
I’ve created a free Education Philosophy Worksheet that I think will be helpful as you reflect on what you want your child’s education to look like.
1. Stop and think…who am I?
2. What are our family’s values?
3. In 1 year from now, what do I want my child to know or believe that they don’t know now.
4. What activities or education do I want to use with them so that they know this thing in 1 year.
Of course the time is subjective. But the concept is not. If you reverse-engineer your child’s learning, you start with the end. What goals do you have for them when they graduate…or in 5 years..or in 1 year. Then bring resources and opportunities to the table to help them learn.
When life is stressful and the world has gone crazy, it is essential to really hone in on your top parenting priorities…not education priorities… parenting. Your educational choices will flow out of those top-level priorities. So how do you do this?
How Do You Implement Your Education Philosophy?
Once you have identified your values and goals for the coming year, now take a careful look at your child. What experiences or education can you add to push them toward the goal? What do you need to remove that is hindering them from reaching the goal.
I have a bunch of teenagers in my house and one of my sons is very logic smart…a future engineer. I affectionately call him “My Nerd.” Growing up, despite his book smarts, Flynn really struggled with his social skills. He is quieter and happy to be off by himself working on a project. But one of our goals for our kids is that regardless of their interests, they learn to become leaders. And for that you need social skills. So, when he was 14, we had him go ahead and get a job at McDonalds. I was hoping that him taking orders and dealing with customers would make some social interactions much easier. And it worked. He quickly became much more confident and articulate. The simple repetition of basic conversations between coworkers and customers helped him get a lot more comfortable with people. Even better, he learned how to deal with conflict and unhappy customers…which is an upgrade to social skills.
At other times, we had children that were really struggling to focus on school work. They were not getting homework done, developing a bad attitude, and generally being aimless. We realized that video games or phones were part of the problem, so we removed or subtracted them from their lives…sometimes for a few days…sometimes for weeks until their behavior was back on track.
As you start to work on your educational philosophy, it will likely start to become clearer to you what kind of education you want for your child. Does the public school support your goals for your child? Or perhaps you would prefer homeschooling because it can be tailored to fit your values. Maybe a local private school has the mix of values and academics that you are looking for. There are even hybrid options that will let you combine elements of homeschooling and public or private school.
If your current schooling option is out of alignment with your values, then it might be time for a change.
How to Find Unity With Your Spouse
That may lead you to the 4th topic we were going to talk about. What if you come up with this great educational philosophy that supports your values and your spouse is not on board. In that case, there are several things you can do.
First, take some time to sit down with your spouse and talk through your concerns. Go ahead and make a list. Be logical and non-emotional if possible. As your spouse to weigh in on the pros and cons. Now add to that list any fears you or your spouse have. What is the worst that could happen if you decide to try something new?
Sometimes a spouse that disagrees with a new option will be willing to consider a trial period. Maybe you try homeschooling for 1 semester or a year and then reevaluate. Maybe you try homeschooling along with a few paid classes or participation in a co-op. Maybe you shift over and try a private school…or an online public school for a semester or a year. The idea is that you can agree to try something out for a set period and then reevaluate.
Of course, it’s possible your spouse will not agree to a change. What then? At that point, I recommend you bring elements of the education model you love into your home and schedule. It’s easy to add interest-based lessons, online classes, and books to your life at home, especially during school breaks and summers. You can use the time your kids are at home to create a mini-homeschool experience.
Whatever happens, keep talking. Your kid’s education is not based on one decision. No, it’s based on thousands of little ones made in alignment with your core values. Your values should cause you to look at the full picture. Friends…Sports…Hobbies…School..Family…Jobs…Faith and Extracurricular Activities. All of these shape your child into who they will become. So if your spouse does not want to change the school your child is going to…all of these other things are important to assess because they affect your child’s learning as well.
How To Deal With People Who Disagree With Your New Philosophy
The last point I wanted to mention is what to do when people disagree with your education philosophy or education choices. Because let’s face it…they will. Unless everyone in your life is a perfect clone, there will be people that disagree with you no matter what. But remember, YOU ARE THE EDUCATION EXPERT on your child so there is no need to stress out when they do.
When we started homeschooling when my oldest son was in Kindergarten, different family members would tell us what they thought. You see, my mother-in-law had been a Kindergarten teacher for almost 20 years in a public school, so she was quite sure that we should be sending our son to school. She would mention different books we should be reading or things I should be doing to teach reading etc. In the early years, there were several times she asked when we were sending him to school.
So what should you do if people disagree? Well, depending on their relationship with you. You can simply ignore their comments. Or you can give your reasons. Either is fine. I like to say things like, “Right now, this is the best choice for us, but we will reevaluate every year.” Sometimes well-meaning people just need to know that if what you chose doesn’t work, you won’t keep going with your failed attempt!
The truth is, that no educational model or type is perfect. People may have a genuine concern or they may just be meddling. But either way, when you KNOW YOU ARE THE EDUCATION EXPERT, you can answer their concerns peacefully and then just let it go. There is no need to let them stress you out or steal your energy dealing with their disagreement.
Our own education journey has not been met with complete acceptance but learning how to pivot to meet the needs of each child has been both challenging and rewarding.
The last thought I want to leave you with is this. As you look at your child and who they are becoming, know that you are enough. At times it may feel like you are failing. That is a temporary fleeting thought. Set it aside and have confidence that YOU ARE THE EXPERT who is best suited to provide an education for your child in alignment with your goals and values. No one else is better suited than you.
As you navigate your education journey or are just thinking things through, feel free to reach out.
My website is TenMinuteMomentum.com
I offer parent education coaching and am happy to offer a free 30 minute Education Empowerment Consult via Zoom if I can help you sort through your options. Click Here to Sign Up!