Published on September 30th, 2013 | by Paz


What haven’t I taught my child?

If we were alive 70 yrs ago we would have a much different interpretation of what an education should be and how we would go about getting that education. Since our move to Mexico I have been thinking a lot about school, the purpose, the reasons we go, the reasons some of don’t go, and what haven’t I taught my child.

I recently have been thinking a lot about my grandparents who didn’t have formal educations, however owned their own successful business, built their own house (with their own hands), supported two children, and loved each other till the end and I think about how much we all could learn from them. Obviously they made some mistakes, but everything they knew or did was either self-taught or a family member taught them. So what haven’t I taught my child?

In today’s age we expect schools, officials, camp counselors, tutors, and everyone else to teach our children. We want the math teacher to teach our children how to easily grasp complex equations, we want the science teacher to teach our child to love and adore the mysteries of the world, we expect the home economics teacher to show our boys how to whip up their own meals and the gym teacher to make our child the next Michael Jordan. I am guilty of this.

Why? Why have we turned into a society where we don’t accept the responsibility of our children’s education? Why is it the school system that has failed our children and not the parents? Why is it the child who has failed math and not the parent that has failed at math? When did our society accept zero responsibility for our children’s abilities to cope in the world?

I have created a list of things I believe we don’t teach our children and we should. Maybe I am wrong, but have you taught your children these simple everyday tasks that my grandparents would have learned on the farm?

  • to make a financial budget and stick to it – really stick to it
  • to sew on buttons
  • to cook 5-10 meals that are healthy
  • to understand what healthy means (not using the FDA food pyramid either)
  • to identify 10 indigenous trees, or plants
  • to grow their own food – or understand the growing process and care for a plant
  • to change a babies diaper and prepare a bottle
  • to add 10 numbers together on a piece of paper
  • to change a car’s oil and tire
  • to drive stick
  • to wash clothes by hand
  • to make a meal from scratch using local ingredients
  • to feed an animal
  • to read a map
  • to help a stranger in need
  • to build something with their hands
  • to give with an open heart
  • to hike
  • to understand basic survival skills

Let me first say that I know how to do only a handful of these things. No judgement, just reflection. As we travel the world and encounter many people who you or I would call “less” educated I am always impressed by some of their ability to do so many things. Many of them have never been on a computer, and have below a third grade education. So imagine if you or I had only made it to third grade, but still they know how to do so much. How can they know so much with only a third grade education? I have recently been inquiring about the source of their knowledge and it is their parents or family members. That is how they learned. Skills that have been passed down generation and generation has made them been able to survive the 21st century with a third grade education.

One thing that scares us is that the people with these skills would survive the zombie apocalypse while many of us would be stuck in the Walmart parking lot.

I am very grateful for the things I was taught by my parents and grandparents so I reflect on what I have taught my children as of yet and what can I improve on and then it hit me like a brick in the head. Yes, it felt like a brick hit me in the head.

We moved to Mexico because it was a Spanish speaking country. I very much value communication and even more so communication in other languages and want to share and teach that to my children, so I moved them to Mexico. But I SPEAK SPANISH FLUENTLY!!!

I chose Mexico among other reasons because of the language. Yet, I have not taught my children Spanish on my own. This is something that I learned from my parents. I never lived in Mexico as a child, not until I decided to attend college in Mexico did I ever “live” in a Spanish speaking country. I spent my entire life in one town in Wisconsin and speak Spanish fluently. Duh!

In my defense I am not used to speaking Spanish on my own or when not among other Spanish speakers and when I am out of practice I get a bit nervous and I worry that I am conjugating all of my verbs correctly. If you speak to me for 5 minutes you might believe that I am native, however if we have a longer conversation you will notice that I am not, especially if we dive into a topic that I am not as familiar with. Thanks to many of my older cousins, I can easily swear and be cool in Spanish.

Still this is no excuse for my laziness as a parent to take the job upon myself. I am expecting a country to teach my children something that I can. So what am I doing about it? Well we have picked four days a week where I will speak only Spanish. Yup, and if they don’t understand they have to say “No, entiendo” (I don’t understand). They don’t have to respond in Spanish, that will come later as we get use to our new routine. With our 3 yr old who is a bit farther behind than our 6 yr old I still spoke some English to him as he was getting a bit frustrated. He also blinks those long lashes at me and smiles that adorable smile and gets away with murder much more than I would like to admit.

What haven’t you taught your child?

Think of your skills and what can you teach your children? Are you really good at organizing? Are you a painter? Are you a good photographer?

Even if your children aren’t interested they would love to spend some time with their parents learning something new. I remember learning how to play pinochle with my grandparents and loved playing card games with them. This helped with my addition, my ability to sit still, focus on one activity, and of course good grandparent conversation about birds while eating cheese and crackers.  If anyone would have asked me to learn pinochle on my own I would have hated it, but it was one of the things my grandparents loved doing and I was glad to participate.

As parents we need to take back the old methods of teaching and doing with our children. Think if the zombie apocalypse did occur, how long could your children survive? Or a less dramatic and much more possible situation of them getting stranded on a dessert road. Do you think they would know what to do if there was NO cell phone reception for miles. These basic things that have been forgotten.

I have decided to teach my family Spanish. What can you teach your child?

About the Author

Paz is an avid adventurer in life and food. Traveling across the globe with her family they enjoy cultural immersion and checking out the local eateries.

8 Responses to What haven’t I taught my child?

  1. Colin Burns says:

    Hey Paz,

    Great article 🙂 I think I might take that list and my own “learning” list. If I can do them then it gives me a better chance of teaching the kids 🙂


    • Paz says:

      Colin! Thanks and thank you for reading. 🙂 Right…I have never changed my oil and don’t have a clue how to change a tire. It would give you a better chance at surviving the Zombie Apocalypse which is always a good thing. 🙂


  2. Maria says:

    Paz once again you offer amazing food for thought. Thanks!

    • Paz says:

      Thanks Maria, yes a lot we have been thinking about recently especially in regards to education. It is always something we are trying to do better as we travel with kids. 🙂

  3. Roy says:

    Other things they would normally learn by living in Wisconsin:

    1. How to hold your beer while driving so you don’t spill it or get caught by a cop.

    2. That boiling brats in beer before grilling is essential for the food pyramid

    3. That chicks dig Packer fans

    4. How to loathe the Chicago Bears

    5. How to sit on a bar stool without falling off

    6. How to make cheese curds

    7. How to use okeedokee in a sentence

    I could go on, but they need to be properly trained in all the social graces of Wisconsin, and how to speak Yooper while they are at it.

  4. Pingback: Road schooling - We are doing it - International Cravings

  5. stephanie says:

    realy loved this.. you are rigth that list would be a manual of life… TU muy bien, tomare nota y agregare algunos puntos solo x si acaso 😉 ja.. bso

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑
  • About Us

    We are a family of four: dad, mom, sister, brother, who decided to leave our job, home, and community to live life in China. After a year abroad we decided to become permanent nomads. We road school our children and try to enjoy every minute.

  • Learning With Lupita

  • Contact Us

    We would love to hear from you. Have a question about China, or living and working abroad? We are here to help.

    Skype: paz.chentnik
    Connect on Facebook