Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Great Expectations

As I just begin this journey of discovering and deciding which course I am going to take in homeschooling I have found myself conflicted. There's the side that holds onto this image of the psychotic mom who has her 5 year old speaking 3 different languages fluently and boasts of how her precious one is so advanced and beyond his years. Then there's the other side that is so laid back the child is almost held back from advancing when he is ready and desirous to learn because we don't want to "push" him.

Thus far I have moved pretty much at my son's pace. He was ready to learn his letters and wanted to "do school" at a very young age so I just went with it. He is reading very well now but as people ask me where he is at I find myself instinctively making excuses so they know I am not a Nazi mom who is pushing him too hard.

Recently I've been beginning to think more about this instinct to explain myself. For my book club this past month we read the biography of John Calvin, who at a very young age accomplished so many things and was always an avid studier. My sister-in-law also told me about a book she's been reading about a family in the pioneer days. This book tells the story of a little 8 year old girl was given charge over the garden. She was responsible to till it, plant, work and harvest the vegetables for her family. If someone did that today most people would respond with a gasp and exclaim, "What about this girl's childhood!!" In history we find countless examples of children who accomplished some amazing feats and yet today our standards seem to fall very short of this. I'm not saying that there are allowances for the gifted and of course not every child is going to be a mozart or einstein but it is interesting that what we consider gifted today was considered commonplace not so long ago.

Our culture is a culture of leisure. I myself find that I work hard so that I can "play". If only I can get this done and then I can rest. Maybe I should be enjoying the work I've been given instead of wishing it away and working only for the off times. I think this attitude is pressed on our children as well. I have found myself on several different occasions thinking, "I shouldn't ask them to do such and such because they just need to play. They'll have plenty of time to work later." Now I"m wondering if that attitude is doing them any favors. Maybe I should teach them to take pleasure in the work they are given. Of course they can still have time to play but maybe I should be teaching them more about how to enjoy work instead of thinking of them as needing so much luxurious leisure.

This brings my thoughts back to school. I am now beginning to think there is nothing wrong with encouraging and even pushing (at times) to greater heights. Using the skills they have been given and capitalizing on them instead of holding them back because they seem too young. What arbitrary standard am I using anyway? Because I am homeschooling I am not bound to grades or levels. I can proceed at my child's pace not anyone else's. So why don't I? Why don't I keep pressing forward no matter what that means? If he is ready...let's go!!

No more making excuses. Yes, he reads and reads well and he loves math and we love school and we work and work hard sometimes but we find joy in all these things.


becky said...

"he loves math and we love school and we work and work hard sometimes but we find joy in all these things."

right on. I love homeschooling posts keep it up!

Jo said...

I completely agree, and as a mom and former teacher, I have been wondering the same thing...

Anonymous said...

Great job! Hey--my husband teaches at a Christian school as the secondary History teacher, but he teaches almost all-school history. He uses a homeschool curriculum from Veritas Press....EXCELLENT program. It's a classical education program that requires LOTS of fact memorization at a young age and then uses LOTS of reading at the older ages to put "meat" on the facts. He loves it. It's his first year using it. I think it's great too. Wish I could take his class. :-)

I think it's wonderful that you're pushing your kids. Our society as a whole is so concerned about "having fun" and not destroying childhoods that we're raising a bunch of idiots and slackers. Not that I have an opinion or anything. :-)
Keep up the good work,
Abby Hyink

Anonymous said...

Good for you Mary! Reading up on what was the definition of leisure is very enlightening as well.
Laura F