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So this is the dreaded time…when many moms really start feeling the pressure, if not from ourselves, from others and from the educational “system” to really start hitting the books. It can be a fierce test of tuning into our mommy instincts and letting those trump the deafening sound of other voices. I found it best not to read too much on homeschooling at this stage of the game because it would often kick my insecurities into high gear. And a stressed out mommy is the last thing our kids need!
We are continually bombarded with the “benefits” of early education. I agree that early education IS important, but not curriculum driven education. What many fail to acknowledge is that our kids are ALWAYS learning because they born natural learners. What child do you know that isn’t curious about many things? And, more often than not, they are NOT curious about workbooks. They are curious about the world around them. This is natural and right and EXACTLY what they need at this stage of development!
If you’ve been tuning into your mommy instincts, you probably know your child quite well at this point. You are also, more than likely, very aware of his/her likes and dislikes and the things that make him/her come alive. Let yourself be free to continue in that flow that you have already established with your child. Unless your child is acting ready to do “bookwork”, let yourself enjoy the liberty of keeping consistency to your days doing many of the same activities I mentioned in The Unhurried Homeschooler-Babies and Toddlers, building forts, playing outside, reading books together, singing, baking together, playing with playdough, clay, working alongside each other accomplishing tasks, etc.
One resource we are currently really enjoying is Five in a Row. It’s such a great way to foster learning in an unhurried and interesting way. You can do as much or little as you want and you can use it for multiple ages. The focus is on reading one book each day with different activities/conversations that are associated with the story. There are literally weeks and weeks of learning in one book. (And there are several volumes). This has worked really well for our youngest who has some attention deficit issues. He loves this time together and is thriving with this approach.
The oldest of our kids didn’t really show an interest in “bookwork” until closer to 7 or 8 or even a little later, but our younger kids wanted to get started earlier because they saw the older ones doing it. Sometimes a child will be interested for awhile and then lose interest and THAT IS OKAY. There is an ebb and flow to homeschooling and this is part of that. The flow will increase as the children become ready developmentally to handle it. Test the waters regularly to get a pulse on where your kids are.
During this time our days can be filled with very practical tasks within a routine. Having our kids help with more complicated chores and having them do simple chores on their own (or with a sibling) teaches more than we often realize. They learn responsibility, new skills, teamwork, they grow in confidence, self-discipline, how to treat others, and feel part of something bigger than themselves. These are the foundational character qualities that give them the tools they need to fulfill the purpose for which they were made.
Playtime is a crucial part of this age and far too many children are not being allowed this privelage of childhood. It’s a rite of passage for our children that ushers them into the more cognitive years of education. When kids are allowed to be “bored”, they must dig deep within their imaginations to create, fabricate, construct and produce something themselves. It’s during these times that our kids have found what they are passionate about which, ultimately, helped determine their course academically. There are even organizations out there that are specifically working to promote policies and practices that support children’s healthy development, love of learning, and joy in living.*
And isn’t that what we really want? Kids who are whole and happy? Well adjusted kids who grow into solid adults, who understand what is really important in life and can think for themselves? That is close to impossible, unless we, as parents, are willing to go out on a limb, think for ourselves, listen to our mommy instincts and do what is best for OUR kids and not fret about what others are doing.
By all means, if your child WANTS to learn to read or write, GO FOR IT! But if they aren’t showing an interest at 7 years old…don’t sweat it! From my experience homeschooling 8 kids, things can change in a week’s time! Often our boys were ready later than our girls. And when our kids are ready, learning is a JOY.
We want to raise life long learners, but that doesn’t come without the cost of making our own way with our own children through this homeschooling journey. It takes courage. It takes strength. But all of that can flow out of a heart that truly loves our children.
Homeschooling is a marathon. NOT. A. SPRINT. Pace yourself. By doing so, you will be more likely to truly savor and enjoy these precious years with your kids, experiencing a quality of life that is hard to find these days and giving your children a much deserved childhood.
Please check out my newly released book, a simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling….The Unhurried Homeschooler (aff)
I also have a podcast to encourage homeschool moms! You can find it on SoundCloud, iTunes or Overcast…just look for Durenda Wilson!
The Minds of Boys by Michael Gurian
*Here is an article on the importance of play in childhood.
This is another great article on a more unhurried approach