Talk about how things work
         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 are
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, too!

         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
their questions.

         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.

All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson. Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for individual use. There is a modest charge for printing these columns in any publication. To receive that permission, contact Jay Davidson