I read an article a few months back in the Readers Digest about the rushing in today’s society. For the author, it was all about how she constantly hurried her child through every aspect of life. The author, herself, was at the point of frustration & shouting each day over simple things like putting on shoes & getting ready for bed, where as the child was in tears each day over her inability to keep up with the mad craze of rushing. I don’t entirely remember what the breaking point was for the family, but eventually the author realised that if she continued to push & rush through life she was going to miss out on a lot, especially the relationship she could have with her daughter.
The article really gave me pause to stop & reflect on my own life & where I may be rushing things that should be taken more slowly. There’s obviously a balance of when we need the push to move forward & when we need to slow down & wait. Everyone is different & that time will, of course, be different for each family.
This article has come to mind a lot lately as I’ve watched young Mums reaching out for support in their homeschool journeys, each one excited & delighted at the prospects ahead. We’ve all been there before, the excitement of finally beginning, the delight in selecting the books & curriculum that will best suit your family, & the sheer joy when they arrive.
When they reach our front door we can’t wait to open up the box & are often eager to start right away, regardless of how our children feel. And that’s when the rushing begins. We rush to start school, we rush to finish the high expectations we put on our children, & then we rush to move them into another subject.
I’ve heard some true & deep heart felt cries of parents concerned of failing their children lately. Parents distraught because their young Kindy students can’t read, or refuse to sit still for hours upon hours each day for schooling. The three year old who isn’t interested in the preschool curriculum Mamma spent hundreds of dollars on. The four year old who seemed so eager to learn but cries when it’s “school time” each morning. The six year old who is angry because he really just wants to continue playing with the train tracks he just built. Rush. Rush. Rush.
I’m not an expert. I don’t have a fancy degree in child anything hanging on my wall. I don’t have a degree in education hidden in a back cupboard somewhere, but I can offer you all some heart felt advice from raising 2 children for the past 15 years & educating them for the past 10? Slow down. Really. Take a deep breath & simply slow down. After all, what’s the rush?
Does it matter if your 5 year old can’t read? Not really. If he’s hitting 9 or 10 & still struggling, yeah I’d be seeking outside help. Ask me how I know. Forcing your child to sit still & string letters together into words & words into sentences isn’t going to make them the sharpest tack in the box, it’s going to burn them out.
If your 6 year old doesn’t want to sit down for hour upon hour each day & calculate math sums, does it really matter? Not really. Wait! I can hear you now, “Of course it matters! At 6 I have to legally have my child enrolled in school & reach 180 days of education!” or whatever legal constrains you are obligated to uphold. Me too, I’m there with you. I’ve been there before you. It’s okay.
I bet your little one would love to go outside & collect rocks or flowers. Did you know rocks, flowers, & toys can be grouped together in 2’s or 5’s or even 10’s & it’s a lot more fun then sitting at a table with a math book. You can play lots of fun games with skip counting too.
Traveling a long distance? Unplug the backseat DVD players & slip in an audio book instead. Even little ones can get greatly caught up in the beauty of Paddington Bear, Olga da Polga, or The Tale Of Despereaux. The downside is getting your children out at the destination can be harder, & when you get back home chances are they’ll want to act out the story.
Wait, I can still hear you. You’re worrying about your child being behind his peers. You’re stressing about the lack of structured lessons. And again, I ask you, what’s the rush? Is this a race to see who’s child gets to the graduation ceremony first?
I’m not suggesting you fail to urge a capable child to take on the responsibilities he’s able to. While we may not have had very formal structured lessons at a young age our children read or were read countless books. We were outside all the time, & if my children didn’t know what they were looking at they asked. We pulled out more books to “look it up”. We’d drive past fields of crops & a little voice from the backseat would say, “That’s pyrethrum you know, in a few weeks the field will be white like snow.”
By slowing down & not rushing, we can harbour a love for learning, & the knowledge that nothing is too great for them if they want to know badly enough. Am I sure? I’d like to think I am, but like any homeschooling Mamma I have my moments of doubt. Most recently I was lamenting the fact that my youngest might not know one skill or another, when I hear him from the backseat saying, “Those clouds are stratus clouds it’s probably going to rain tonight.”
Did I teach him that? No. His passion for weather has been growing more rapidly with each passing year & he’d checked a weather book out of the library & read it. Thus he could tell us all about the stratus clouds.. & cumulus clouds.
The thing is, when we slow down & stop rushing pell-mell down the educational road it’s amazing how much more we can learn because we aren’t fighting the uphill battle of students who are not ready for what’s ahead. Rushing into things isn’t worth the collision course ahead.
Many times in our years of homeschooling we’ve come to a pause, or even a dead stop, in order to allow a child to build confidence in skills that would then help propel them forward. There’s no shame in it, none. I’m not saying you’re not going to get pressure, but stop & evaluate where that pressure is coming from.
Is it because you’re playing the comparison game? You’re not alone, we’ve all fallen prey at one time or another. The friendly neighbour who doesn’t homeschool? We’ve all got them. Family members? Been there done that. Take a deep breathe, evaluate your plan, pray about it & decide if you’re on the right path.
There’s nothing wrong with moving at a calm & steady pace, after all it worked pretty well for the tortoise.