As a homeschooling parent, I learn at least as much as I teach.

I don’t mean that in some fuzzy “the kids teach me so much just by being themselves” way. Yes, the kids constantly pull me back to the magic of the beginner’s mind, and I learn about myself and the world that way.

But I mean something more direct. I’ve learned to homeschool myself. Like a lot of people, especially nerds, I grew up very reliant on academic systems to teach me new skills and grant me permission to use them. After grad school, when I wanted to learn something – how to knit, to do yoga, to speak Spanish – I would sign up for a class.

Homeschooling has freed me from that pattern. I want to learn to sew now, so I talked to a friend who sews and she’s agreed to give me a few lessons at her house. I’m learning Spanish from my husband, who’s a native speaker. I’m letting my garden teach me how to grow food in it.

I learn more by doing than by reading, these days. This style of learning is sometimes faster and sometimes slower than doing it in a classroom. But it’s “stickier”, what I learn stays with me.

On the downside, there’s a dangerous lack of depth and diversity that can occur when we only learn from our own experiences. I try to counter that by continuing to read a lot, but it’s one of my biggest concerns about homeschooling in general.