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Uncle CHiN

Dear Uncle CHiN,

I know testing doesn't prove much, but how else can I know that my children are learning anything?

Signed, Anxious

Dear An,

Oh, how school has trained us not to trust ourselves! While Uncle Chin does not profess to have a green thumb, he does like the garden analogy. (You know, children are like flowers.) I may plant dozens of flower seeds on a particular day. I must nurture them by giving them water and sunshine (by planting them in the appropriate spot, which I seldom do). I must protect them from pests and weeds. But I also have to trust that they are growing. If I dig up a seed to check its progress, I will hurt or even kill it. After it breaks the surface, I can measure its visible growth and encourage it with plant food, but if I interfere too much I will again harm it. I also can not determine how fast or how big it will grow, or when it will be ready to bloom. And of course, I can't open the bud to check on the flower's growth. And even though I plant all those seeds on the same day and in the same spot, they will grow at different rates and bloom at different times and be different colors.

Ok, I'll wash off the dirt and be practical. How do you know if you have been learning anything? Well, you probably think about what you were like a few years ago, look at photographs and read your journal, and laugh at that person you used to be. It's even easier with children. Look at those videotapes and photographs. Your kids have grown more than just physically. Look at how those scribbles have turned into drawings and letters of the alphabet. Your children have probably outgrown some toys and books along with clothes. Think of all the different things they have been interested in, sometimes to the exclusion of things we think are important.

Children want to learn, and they do it very well because no one has told them that it is work, that they can only learn if someone older teaches them, and that if they don't learn certain things, they are dumb. It's scary, but we adults have to learn to trust the natural learning process. It works!

Happy Planting! Uncle CHiN


   About Testing

   Deducting Homeschooling Expenses

   Homeschooling through the Summer

   On Doing "Nothing"

   On Loving Your Children's Company

   Over Eager Mom

   Private Time for Mom

   Sibling Rivalry

   Teaching Children at Different Grade Levels

   The Many Ways to Homeschool

   Uncle CHiN on ADHD

   Unit Studies

   What About the Prom?

   Winning over a Skeptical Grandma


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