The kids have to set aside some time during the day to teach me or each other about something that they know. Chess, pixel art, origami. It’s a great way to work on their communication skills, as well as giving their self esteem a boost by putting them into the driver’s seat for a bit.
They also learn a lot by teaching each other - they get to see the things they know in a different way, organise their thoughts, figure out how to present the information they have so it’s easily understood by someone else and to see the gaps in their own knowledge. It’s really working out well and the kids love doing it.
But you know what? I didn’t realise just how much I could learn from them too.
Last week Attie chose to teach me how to create 3D animations. Sitting side by side at the computer, he showed me how to build an object, insert the frameworks needed to make it move and then program the animation sequence. But that’s not all.
He taught me about patience.
There’s no rule that says you have to love something just because your kids do. And trying to seem interested in someone else’s obsession isn’t always easy, especially when you have a zillion other things to do. So I guess I was having a bit of trouble sounding enthused, because at one point he said “I know this bit seems boring Mummy, but you have to keep going because it’s about to get really, really good.”
He taught me about assumptions.
At one point as he was explaining to me about vectors and coordinates, he used the term ‘negative zero’. Pouncing on the learning opportunity, I corrected him and said there was no such thing. He said “Pfft, well not that YOU know” and proceeded to go look it up. Yep, I was wrong. I love that he didn’t just accept my word for it, and refused to close his mind on the idea until he had more information.
He taught me about mindfulness.
My brain is always racing ahead and sometimes I find it hard to stop and concentrate on the thing that’s in front of me. I was distracted by the laundry that had to be taken out of the machine, what I was going to make for dinner, the emails that needed a reply... so I wasn’t listening closely enough to his instructions and missed important steps. I really wasn’t in the moment, and afterwards I felt bad that I hadn’t given him the respect of sharing in the experience more. More importantly, I also missed a bunch of jokes that he was telling (which from the randomness of the punchlines and the way he was laughing must have been some of his A-grade stuff). Those kinds of moments are just so much more important than housework or emails.
He taught me about acceptance.
As you can probably tell, I really wasn’t being a very good student. My mind was elsewhere, I kept making mistakes, it was obvious that I wasn’t all that enthused... and yet at the end when I apologised he just said “That’s okay Mummy, I know you’re tired. I was just happy to be teaching you... and maybe next time you’ll do better.”
So here’s this kid who couldn’t cope in the classroom because he’s inattentive, hyperactive and lacking in social skills teaching me important lessons about focus, communication and learning.
I love so much that he’s turning out to be a better student (and teacher) than I am.