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  • Sarah Janisse Brown

There are only TWO reasons to Learn ANYTHING!



There are two reasons to learn something... because we need to know it, and because we love it. For example we all need to know how to read, how to use money, how to be kind, and how to tell time. Some people need to know things like how to use a lawn mower, change a diaper or how to operate a cash register.

Learning because we LOVE:

Your child may love dinosaurs and he may want to spend hours every day researching them, going to exhibits and his dream may be to dig up fossilized dinosaurs, but he does not NEED to know this for his imminent survival, he learns because he loves. This type of learning is easy and fun.

You do not need to teach your children all about the things they love. If your child loves space and planets you just need to give them tools for learning. Just show them where to find the information, and get them planet books for Christmas. Allow them to study their interests as part of school to make essential stuff more fun... Math with planets, art with planets, history with planets, spelling with planets. This is what our family calls "FUN-Schooling" We focus on topics the that kids LOVE to learn about in order to teach them the things they NEED to learn about.

Natural Learning:

There are many things that children learn naturally. They learn to do everything that their "brain" automatically identifies as essential to life in their culture and home.

A child will learn how to talk, and by the time she is 14 years old people will think she is the mom when she answers the phone, because she has learn exactly how to form each word like her mother. If she spends more time with Dora the Explorer than mom, year after year... she may learn to speak like the cartoon character. When my six year old son explains something he sounds just like one of the Kratt brothers from the Animal TV Show Wild Kratts. Kids learn by example. This type of learning is easy, because it is natural. Just be careful not to teach bad habits or lead a child into addictions.

Learning From the Example of Others:

Children will become like the people the spend the most time with. they will learn to walk, talk, think, eat, spend money, and dress the way other people do in their culture. All over the world this is true. If a toddler is cared for by a stay at home mom, she will often copy everything mom does and you will hear the little one say funny things like "I just need three minutes to think, could you please turn that down!" and we laugh!

If mom and dad read books, the kids read books too. If mom turns on music when cleaning the house, the kids will turn on music when cleaning their rooms. In mom hides chocolate in the oatmeal box, the kids will find it and eat it too. If mom loves to work on projects and leaves them laying around all over the house, the kids will work on projects too, and sabotage mom's projects because they want to help. If mom loves going to the library, so will the kids. If mom talks about how much she loves healthy food, and why, they kids will tell their own friends why soda and white bread are bad.

If dad or mom or friends spend a lot of time online or on the smart phone - the kids will to. It is a temptation to use the phone for everything. That is why I have no internet device in my purse or pocket. I want my kids to know what I am doing, if I am reading my Bible, writing a poem, editing photos or planning Thanksgiving Dinner all they see is mom on the phone or tablet....ignoring them. But wasn't I doing important stuff? Who knows would could just be playing FarmVille. By using a device, designed for one person only, I have sent the wrong message to my kids and I am just an example of a mom on the phone. It is easier to be an example to my kids without the personal device. When I am working on the laptop they can see the screen and I can talk to them and include them in what I am doing. When I am reading a real book, using a real cookbook, looking at a calendar on the wall or putting together a scrapbook... they can see what I am actually doing and get involved. I intentionally do several things the old fashion way as a way to include other people in my home.

Children are programmed to follow the example of the people who care for them. Before the feminist movement moms and grandmas usually cared for young children. It worked out well because passing values and skills to the next generation came naturally. Now teaching children has to be more intentional. Should we send them to school to learn how to pay the bills, prepare a meal, wash the clothes, pray, and organize a closet? No, as moms we need to realize that we still have the responsibility of teaching these things to the children.We need to include the children when we work at home, even if they want to watch a movie, even if they have a lot of homework. Life skills are essential, and are learned at home first and then on Youtube, you can't expect someone else to teach your kids life skills in a classroom or with a textbook.


In the right environment children will naturally learn everything they need to know to survive in their culture. If their home is not a good environment and is filled with trash, drugs, abuse, yelling, drinking, porn... they will not learn what they need to know to thrive in this world, but they will focus on learning what they need to know to survive and get by in THAT culture.

Learning by immersion:

Immersion is a very efficient way to learn, but not always fun at first. If you want to learn a new language you can take a class, study and learn a lot without ever being with people who are native speakers of that language. I takes a few years of intense devotion to learn this way and you often forget most of what you learn. A much faster way is to learn by immersion. Go live with a family that does not speak English in a country where you must get around. Your brain will say to itself "I NEED to know this language!" You will learn because you are surrounded by it and need it. at first you will be very frustrated, but then you will be driven to overcome your lack, and will quickly learn all you need to know. Almost anything can be learned by immersion when there is a need to learn.

Learning Through Instruction:

Many people think that the only way to learn something is to be TAUGHT it systematically.

So what will you actually need to TEACH a child who naturally learns so many thing because they love learning, because they learn naturally, by example and by immersion? What else do they need?

It depends who you talk to. Children need to learn to read - some need to be taught other watch videos, others learn natura