I don't know how many times, when I am talking to homeschool parents, we get on the subject of what are THE most important things to teach our children. Besides transferring your core beliefs--such as your faith, and character traits like honesty and kindness--which are paramount, what are the three main academic things you should teach your children?
This is my very own personal list done with absolutely no scientific studies or animal testing. No children or pets were hurt while I formulated my answer to this all important question.
If you can teach your child to read and think and communicate, they have it made. Once the key to reading unlocks the secret to knowledge in various disciplines, you have accomplished step #1.
Then, they need to be able to think--really think--about what they have read, what they have heard, what they have experienced and to analyze, compare and apply that information to find out what the truth or reality is. This is not easy and takes many years.
Children do not learn to think by answering the questions [or assessments if you want to use the fancier terminology] at the end of the chapter. They don't learn to think by someone telling them what to think. They learn to think by thinking, by comparing, by reading and applying what they have learned. They learn to think by answering questions about how what they read or heard can be applied to real life, or how it compares with what they know, or how it compares with something else they have read or researched. They learn to think by talking to you and others. That is step #2.
And that is where step #3 comes in. In order to succeed children need to learn how to communicate what they think. They need to be able to look someone in the eye and have a conversation. They need to be taught to have good written communication skills. They need to be able to express themselves to others in a concise and clear manner, both verbally and in in writing.
I am convinced, that if they can do these three things they will do well in higher education, in the workplace and in interpersonal relationships. In order to succeed in this culture reading, thinking and communicating are the most important skills you can teach your child.
I believe reading to your children from a young age, discussing with them what you have read and then asking them to tell back or narrate...
- what the story was about
- or why it was important
- or how it relates to them or to your core beliefs
is a great way to begin to teach the THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS.
I believe that a low student to teacher ratio such as you get in homeschooling is the very best way to achieve this and I believe that Sonlight Curriculum is the best homeschool curricula available. It helps you teach your child these three things while they are learning history, geography, science, cultural literacy and much more. As your child grows you can continue discussing what they are reading and include them in discussions regarding politics, religion and many other subjects to sharpen their minds--to help them critically think about things and not to simply accept and repeat what someone else has concluded.
What would you include in the most important things to teach? What things are critical? What things do you wish you would have been taught? What things have you learned the hard way or by homeschooling your own kids?
[Disclaimer: I include in reading and thinking the discipline of mathematics--reading the lesson and thinking about and doing the problems. Other things are vital too, such as physical education/activity, music education and so on and I think every family has to make their own priorities in these areas; but in this writing, I wanted to speak to equipping children with foundational tools needed to learn anything, anywhere, anytime.]