Teach a Man to Fish: Teaching Kids to Be Self- Sufficient

You know the old saying?

The one that goes "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you'll feed him for a lifetime."

I couldn't help thinking of this quote over and over again last night as I was thinking back over our day.  My husband took the boys fishing (and I'm sure that is part of what made me think of it) while I was inside cleaning up from dinner reflecting on what had gone wrong with our "lesson" yesterday.

While you can take this quote literally, I think it definitely applies to our homeschool philosophy and really most parenting in general.

Our goal, as parents, is to get our children to think, see, and do things for themselves.  We teach them how to make their way through this world in hopes that they will be well equipped to make it on their own by adulthood.

 Since we've started homeschooling, I have had my boys tackle jobs I probably wouldn't have bothered teaching them until they were much older.

  • My oldest two sons know how to work our washer and dryer and can do their own laundry (even folding them and putting them away if necessary).  
  • I have been working with all three boys on using steak/sharp knives to cut up all their own food at mealtimes.  
  • They all have had a turn at working the oven, stove and toaster oven-- with supervision, if needed.   
  • They are required to read all directions on their own before asking for help, and even then I typically just ask them questions about the directions they read.  
It's not that I don't want to help my boys, but that I think doing things for them isn't necessarily helping them out in the long run.

I try hard to support them in doing things for themselves and working problems out on their own as much as possible.

I'm a firm believer that, we as parents, shouldn't do for the kids what they can do for themselves.  Not that I won't help out from time to time, since it doesn't hurt to be helpful but I try to wait and see if they really need help before jumping in and taking over.

I wait to be asked (and try to make sure they aren't just asking because they're feeling extra lazy) before I'll help.

I try to encourage them to be independent.
Evan fishes off the dock

Ian takes his pole in his kayak to fish around the lake

I took the boys to Target this morning and we picked out a bunch of back to school supplies that we bought and then dropped off at a donation spot around town.  We have a wonderful organization that collects supplies for those students that are heading back to school whose families can't afford to buy their own.  I loved seeing the smiles on all the boys faces as we did our good deed for the day.  They were so excited to pick out all the supplies, even though we weren't keeping them for ourselves and I think they got a lot of satisfaction out of knowing they were helping other kids in our local area.

I want to keep doing these small, random acts of kindness as often as we can so they learn the real meaning of community service.

I don't think anything lifts our spirits as much as helping those in need.  I could have bought the supplies myself and dropped them off without bringing the boys and that would have been easier.  But my telling them about it AFTER the fact would not have made an impact on them.

I'm teaching my boys to feed their minds, bodies, and souls for the rest of their lives.


  1. Such an important lesson to teach children so thank you for linking up and sharing your thoughts at #overthemoon Link Party


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