Sometimes I am tempted to compare my teaching methods with other homeschool moms. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by what is working for others; but the temptation, at least for me at times, is to see what others are doing and feel inadequate.
The minute I tell someone that we’re homeschooling, I feel that sensation creep over me; the one that feels the need to justify my decision or prove something. I am certain that most of this is in my head, but I still feel as though I need to list every lesson and activity because that will keep this other person from judging me.
Yet how many times have we heard how essential play is to learning for young children?
Formal learning seems to be being pushed earlier and earlier. Kids are eager to learn, it’s true, and I think we should absolutely support and encourage that desire; but we must be very careful to not push too hard or go too far – not at 5 years old.
I look at Billy and I see a boy who could pass for older than 5. He’s smart, too, and I think that sometimes I am afraid that I’m not challenging him enough. Sometimes I forget that he wants to learn, but he NEEDS to play.
I feel guilty that we don’t do enough structured activity.
I forget that the reason I chose to take the delight directed schooling path was because I had watched him learn the things he wanted to learn and reject the things that did not interest him.
I’ve also seen him walk away from things he was pushed to do – things that frustrated him.
The best example I can give you of this is writing. I see so many cute copywork pages and ones of great Bible verses pass through my Pinterest feed and I start to get those feelings of inadequacy.
The problem is that I know that Billy knows how to write, but a light went on for me the day I asked him to copy the date on a whiteboard (I thought it would be more fun that way). He did it, and he did it beautifully, but I have never been able to get him to do it again. We showered him with praise, but since it required patience and slow work, he had a very hard time with it and became frustrated.
I don’t want him to go through the rest of his life – especially his school life, where he will NEED to write often – hating writing because it was forced on him when he was 5.
I want him to want to write. So when he writes, I praise him. When he wants to write, I give him paper and a pen. When he needs help, I write a word for him to copy. Today he made an Easter egg for me. With the wax crayon he wrote me a secret message; it said “Mom.”
He wanted to write, so he wrote.
He doesn’t need me to encourage him to want to learn – he has that desire naturally. And one of the best ways for him to learn at his age is to play.
When he plays, he makes up fantastic stories. He learns to be gentle and care about others. He learns how to cooperate and take turns. He sings songs and dances. He draws and makes crafts.
All of those wonderful activities that I feel guilty for not “structuring,” he does out of enjoyment.
So, kindergarten homeschooling mom, don’t be tempted to compare your situation with someone else’s. That little one won’t be little forever. It’s okay to let them play!