A reader asked, “What do you do about gaps in your kids’ educations if you’re unschooling?”

My answer, “Don’t worry about it.”

If you’re already comfortable with a self-directed approach, you’re nodding in agreement.  Nothing new here.  But if you’re not, go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor.

Yes, I am serious.  Don’t worry about it.

Gaps in knowledge and skill are both normal and unavoidable.

Yup, that’s right.  Normal and unavoidable.  

It doesn’t matter whether your child is in a classroom with 25 peers who are supposedly all learning the same material, you’re homeschooling your two children with a boxed curricula, or you’re unschooling.  Every single person out there is going to experience information differently – absorb it and internalize it, memorize it until the test, flatly reject it, master it, struggle with it.  

Additionally, it is impossible to know everything about everything…and an incredible waste of time and energy to even try.

Not everyone even needs the same knowledge and skills.

I’d like to think that this one goes without saying, but…you never know these days.  Think about yourself and your five closest friends. Do you all know exactly the same things?  To the same extent?  Do you all need to use all of the same skills?

Gaps in knowledge and skill can be closed quickly and efficiently with a personally compelling reason to do so.

The list of things I didn’t know about running a successful blog when I started almost a year ago was absolutely staggering.  The gaps in my knowledge and skill were gigantic, especially in comparison with other bloggers who have been doing it a while.

The list of knowledge and skills I don’t know now about running a successful blog is not as long as it was a year ago, but it’s still an impressive size.

Three years ago, no one could’ve convinced me to willingly invest literally hours of my time into closing that gap in knowledge and skill. I didn’t have any need of the knowledge or the skill.  And I didn’t have any desire to acquire them.  Once that changed, I applied myself wholeheartedly to learning what I need to know in order to do what I want to do.

Kids are the same way.  All three of my kids have been late readers.  My son, for example, turned into a decent reader when he was 8. By the time he was 11, he was reading adult non-fiction.  I could’ve spent the years he was 5, 6, and 7 fretting anxiously because he wasn’t reading – and for what?  By the time he was 8, you’d never know that he was a late reader, and by the time he was 11, he was reading better than many of his peers.

All three of my kids have been late readers.  My son, for example, turned into a decent reader when he was 8. By the time he was 11, he was reading adult non-fiction.  I could’ve spent the years he was 5, 6, and 7 fretting anxiously because he wasn’t reading – and for what?  By the time he was 8, you’d never know that he was a late reader, and by the time he was 11, he was reading better than many of his peers.

I tried, when my son was about 12, to encourage him to work on building his computer skills.  It was readily apparent that he wasn’t interested in the slightest in doing that, so I backed off.  At 17, he had a job that required him to work with Excel spreadsheets.  Man, those computer skills I’d tried encouraging him to build five years prior sure would’ve come in handy.  Of course, I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to mention it.  And without batting an eye, with the true spirit of an unschooler, Jarrod told me that he was picking it up very quickly in the context of something useful and applicable.

So, yes.  Don’t worry about those gaps.  

Instead, focus your time and energy on helping your kids ask the right questions of the right sources and develop their resourcefulness.  Do that right, and if they actually need to know anything you’ve “missed” along the way, they’ll be able to recognize that and it’ll be a piece of cake for them to pick up the knowledge or the skill.

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