Teaching what I don’t know

or what I don’t care to know.  (Shhh!  Don’t tell my children.  Even I, learning-lover that I am, have my limits, and chemistry is one of them.  Or so I thought.)

Sometimes, I get someone else to teach.  A violin teacher teachrs violin.  A cello teacher teaches cello.  Sometimes, I take a breath, jump in and learn what I don’t know along with the kids.

Other times, I get lucky.  Very lucky.

Teaching my eldest child chemistry was one of those very lucky times.  I just taught him to read.  Then his curiosity and natural preferences led him to science books, absorbing facts like a sponge.  He has loved chemistry, in particular, since he was 4 yo and still goes to bed with chemistry books as leisure reading.  I can confidently say that the boy is engaged and knows far more than the average college graduate about chemistry.

One of the most exciting things about being a parent is watching the kids take off on their own, in ways that have little to do with me, seeing them develop interests and skills vastly different from my own.

Sidney teaches chemistry.


I was also feeling quite lucky that Sidney was my eldest.  I had grand plans of him teaching his younger siblings chemistry, so I could schlepp out of it.

Teaching his younger siblings would cement his chemistry knowledge, I reasoned.  I didn’t count on having fun myself and learning chemistry too.  Life is funny like that, working out differently than our Plans.


Since my younger children tend more toward the humanities than sciences, I asked Sidney to help me teach them now to ease their way into high school chemistry later.  My Plan was to whet their appetites and create a chemistry-learning drive inside them such that I could stand aside and . . .well, basically do ANYTHING ELSE during their high school chemistry studies.


But from reading over their notes of big brother’s teaching,

coloring and labeling Period Tables with them,


looking at the huge Period Table of Elements taking over my wall, I am getting sucked into learning Chemistry too.  Against my Plan.

It turns out that some things I thought would be dreadful, like teaching chemistry, are actually cool and exciting.

Our Wall of Elements

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