How does a computer work? How does a car run? How does water get into our
house? How does stuff flow to the bay from the storm drain?
You have kids. Kids have questions. There is no separating the two. Kids
curious about the world.
Some parents are lucky: they have a good grip on the
way things work, and they
are able to explain these workings to children. From
the motor of a refrigerator
to the inner gears of a clock, you can satisfy your
childís need to have answers.
But not all parents can do this.
Itís humbling, but it needs to be done occasionally: you have to tell your
child that you do not know
the answer to her questions. What you do in these
situations can be formative
in her education.
A ďletís find outĒ attitude on the part of a parent teaches a variety of
lessons to your child. First
of all, your child learns that there are places to look for
answers to questions: the
library, the Internet, the Tech Museum, or another
person who has a greater
knowledge base than you.
Secondly, she begins to understand the different means necessary for
getting the answers. More
and more, the computer is coming into play, whether
people use the Internet
or search the now-computerized card catalog at the
library. Each medium works
differently and needs a different skill set for finding
Thirdly, children get an understanding that adults are not omnipotent.
And, hey, if adults donít
know everything, itís okay that they, children, donít
have to know everything,
Learning does not end at the completion of the formal education
process. This attitude puts
children in a good position to see learning as a lifelong
activity. Children learn
this when they see adults help them to find answers to
Maybe thatís why college graduation is usually called commencement.
Think of it as the beginning
- not the end - of learning.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.