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We have been homeschooling over 20 years. We have eight children and are graduating our 4th and 5th in just a few short weeks. When I started this journey with our kids, the internet wasn’t in existence. We didn’t have cell phones and homeschool curriculum availability was limited.
As the years have passed, I’ve watched the internet, cell phones and curriculum companies give us access to unlimited amounts of information. Although these can be helpful, I am also realizing how detrimental this seems to be…especially those who are just beginning their homeschool journeys.
For hundreds of years, children have been allowed to have plenty of play time, spending hours building forts, making bows and arrows, collecting bruises and bloody knees and loving every minute of it! They were engrossed in childhood. Our world has changed, but our children have NOT!
They arrive in this world with many, many stages of development that they must walk through before becoming healthy, well-adjusted adults. Our job as parents is to provide an environment that allows them to do that well. Their health and well being are dependent on it.
The trouble is, as homeschooling parents, we are terrified that our children are going to fall behind “educationally”. I am here to tell you that that IS THE LEAST OF YOUR PROBLEMS.
As parents are desperately trying to do what is best for our children. We are bombarded with information on parenting and homeschooling. We are running around stressed out and constantly second guessing ourselves. In the mean time, our kids are feeling the pressure and it is eroding their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
The results are that our kids are having to cope with the complexities of adulthood and losing their one chance to be a kid. In an effort to do what we think will ultimately benefit our children, we are, in fact, robbing them of the very thing they need to engage in higher learning and become well-adjusted adults.
So what do our children REALLY need? What if I told you that the answer was not only incredibly uncomplicated, but it will make your days much less stressful?
Children react to too much busyness and stress with a similar “crisis mode” response that a child in a war zone would. Their coping mechanisms kick in because they simply don’t have the ability to process adult type stresses. In other words, we need to keep their lives very simple by allowing them plenty of time to play, explore, reflect and release tension. They need to be allow the gift of boredom which encourages creativity and self directed learning.
What this means for us as parents is that we are going to have to trust. Trust our instincts to know when our kids are and are NOT ready for more. We need to filter unnecessary busyness. We are going to have to be the ones to protect our children’s childhood both by saying no to things that will chip away at their play time AND by not loading them down with too much bookwork too soon.
Childhood isn’t something to “get through”. It serves a real and lasting purpose. It is the foundation for higher learning. Each stage of development brings them closer to adulthood. We want that to be a natural, whole process and that requires letting them be who God made them to be. We let them be kids so they can be healthy adults.
As homeschooling parents we need to let go and trust our children’s natural ability to learn. “To believe these precious little ones are ready for our adult version of ‘education’ is one of the biggest mistakes we could make. A slower, gentler approach lends itself to growing WITH children so by the time they reach the age of logic (12-15 yrs), they are excited about all they can learn. Suddenly their learning takes off at warp speed and more than makes up for the ‘slower’ start.” (This is a quote from my simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling, called The Unhurried Homeschooler)
I’ve spent over 20 years as a student of our kids, watching them absolutely thrive in this unhurried approach to homeschooling. It’s made homeschooling not only do able, but enjoyable. The hardest part was not letting others determine how we would approach our days. I can tell you it was well worth the effort as I watch our kids launch into the world, not perfect, but definitely whole and healthy. They have fond memories of their childhoods and I wouldn’t go back and change anything about the way we approached learning. Our kids have turned out to be life long learners, but more importantly, close friends and well adjusted adults.