The Experts in Your Life

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by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

Sit down right now and think through your list of family and friends. What special expertise and passions can you find among them? Maybe it’s a profession or an avid hobby. We all have experts in our lives. And we want our children to have learning experiences with people who are passionate about an interest and who we trust with those children. Invite these experts into your homeschooling plan.

Ask if they have a few hours to introduce your child to the work they do. Maybe they’d need a full day to spend (birding or sewing or building a model rocket). Give your newly found expert some time to think through how best to introduce a child to the topic- and maybe come up with a small project that could be done together. Be open to the possibility that your child might really enjoy this and want to pursue it further. Would your expert consider a regular session each week for a few weeks if this intro really sparks something for your child?

Now, don’t limit your list to gender stereo-typed experiences. As a girl, I really enjoyed watching my dad work on our cars and I proudly learned the names of the different tools as I assisted. I learned the steps to change the oil and air filter, how to check fluid levels, and how to change a tire. I learned the parts under the hood and how they work together. I don’t work on my own car, but I can knowledgably describe a problem to my mechanic and understand his diagnosis. When I’ve been in the market for a used car, it helps that I can spot one that hasn’t been well-maintained.

On the flip side, my sons enjoyed learning to sew with my mom in her sewing room, and some baking sessions in her kitchen. I showed both boys how to knit, and one of them went on to make a neck scarf to match his new coat. They also did some woodwork with my dad and made bird feeders, bird houses and bat houses. Not only were these great learning experiences, they were also wonderful shared time with their grandparents- Priceless!

Have you started your list? Think who you know that’s a gardener, woodworker, artist, photographer, birder, mechanic, engineer, farmer, decorator, computer wiz, sewer, knitter, or writer. Anyone who builds models, or bakes, or cans produce? How about an astronomer with a telescope? A weaver, a coin collector, a furniture refinisher, an upholsterer, a nurse, a dentist, a banker, a veterinarian, a pilot, an air show buff, a tree trimmer, repairman or history buff? Maybe you know someone who has traveled to another country, or even someone who travels to other parts of our country. Ask them to share pictures and stories of these ‘other places’.

Once you have something set up, let the kids in on the plan and encourage them to jot down questions they’d like to ask now that they’ll have this chance. What do they already know about the topic, if anything? What would they like to learn more about from this person? You could also do a little preparatory research at the library or online just to have some insight into the lingo for this particular subject and some background info to get your feet wet. A little prep work is especially helpful if you have a child who likes to know what he’s getting into.

If your contact really enjoys this work with kids, invite him/her to share the intro talk with your co-op or see if there might be the possibility of a class offering for the kids in your group. Most people love to share their interest with others and would enjoy bringing young people into their field or hobby.

Is your list longer than you thought it would be? You’ll keep adding to it now that you’re thinking about it, and you’ll find some amazing experiences for your kids along the way!  Happy Learning!