Education is a Life

Majoring in the Minors, by Genevieve

When we hear that phrase, we think of someone who makes inconsequential details into issues of huge import. We all want to major in the majors. The problem is that as parents, particularly new homeschooling parents, we often have no earthly idea what the majors are.

I can tell you what they aren’t.

They aren’t how early your child learns to read and they aren’t how many hours a day your child does school. The majors aren’t how many grades “ahead” your child is or even your child’s test scores or high school grades.

I’m here to tell you that those are all very minor. Yet, it seems that these minors are the very things that new homeschoolers focus on the most.

I’m in a unique position. I have grown children who were homeschooled all the way through, and I still have children at the beginning of their homeschooling journey. I recognize the mistakes new homeschoolers are making because I’ve made most of them myself.

Two of my children are adults. I’m very happy with how they are doing. My oldest graduates with her Associates Degree in a few weeks. Her degree was completely paid for with an honors scholarship. She is likely to graduate with a 4.0 and already has transfer acceptance letters and scholarship offers coming in.

My second child has a full time job and his own health insurance and a 401k. He didn’t finish college, but he is on track to be making the same salary as his college-graduate coworkers by the time he turns 20.

So looking back on what I did right and what I could have done better surprises me.

I hear new parents pushing young children because grades are going to matter in the upper grades, and everyone knows that your future can be made or be broken by your high school grades.

Except that my scholarship-receiving child never even had a high school transcript. She never took the SAT or the ACT. Her high school grades mattered exactly not at all.

Grades are also not an important factor in my son’s success at work. His company has never seen his high school or college transcript, yet something is making him stand out. What is it? It’s the majors.

But what are the majors and how can we focus on them in the early years?

* Work ethic – I’m here to tell you that a kid who comes to office hours, stays late, never misses class, always has her homework is a kid who is going to get noticed.

The best way to instill a solid work ethic is to model it the child’s entire life. We don’t complain about deserving more than we get. We don’t spend our time bemoaning how society is out to get us. We just buckle down and get it done. We do our best even when it isn’t appreciated by others. In the end, our kids can’t help but do the same.  It becomes who they are.

* Enthusiasm – It is so refreshing to teach or work with someone who is enthusiastic about the task at hand. My oldest isn’t the most coordinated person. After a semester of PE, she went to thank her professor for being so patient with her efforts and her limitations. The professor said that she only wished every student she teaches could be as enjoyable and rewarding. It turns out that enthusiasm sometimes trumps God-given talent and ability.

* Humility – We have all worked with someone who is an expert in their field, but their lack of humility makes them just insufferable. I’m telling you that the combination of expertise and humility is virtually irresistible and opens many doors.

* Kindness – I saved the most important major for last. Of everything my children do, it’s the acts of kindness that make me the most proud. I believe that children who are treated kindly treat others the same way and that children who are treated respectfully grow up to respect others.

I’m challenging you to take a break from majoring on the minors. Don’t worry about test scores and grades and whether your child is currently ahead or behind grade level because, in the end, the kind and humble and enthusiastic kids with solid work ethics are going to grow up and conquer the world.

Genevieveis a former public and private school teacher who has five children and has been homeschooling for the past thirteen years. In her free time she provides slave labor to Dancing Dog Dairy, making goat milk soap and handspun yarn, which can be seen on Our Facebook Page and at Dancing Dog Dairy .


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