Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Mommy, can we please go have learning time?"

I was behind this morning. There were two dozen chocolate cupcakes to bake and ice for Max & Sam's birthday celebration at preschool. Four beds to be made. Whites to wash. Colors to dry. Towels to fold. A powder room toilet that needed a generous scrubbing after a few days of abuse from two silly, mischievous little boys. I'd risen early, but early wasn't good enough today. The clock on the kitchen stove clicked away the minutes of the morning as I bustled about, focused only on my To Do list.  And then I heard Chloe's little voice from the playroom.

"Mommy, can we please go have learning time?"

Normally by this point in the morning we'd already had our family circle time down in the classroom, time spent doing the Pledge, the calendar, prayer time, hymn time, and a little story time. I'd pushed it off this morning, and finally between making bed #3 and bed #4, had decided to eliminate it altogether in lieu of the beckoning To Do list. 

One day won't hurt. 

But when I heard Chloe's request, and saw on her face that one of the most important parts of her morning seemed to be missing, I stopped in my tracks and rejoiced.

There are lots of reasons that Greg and I decided to homeschool, too many for a bulleted list. One of the primary ones, though, was our strong desire to instill within our children a true love of learning. How does it happen, we wondered, that endlessly curious, creative, innovative children get on that school bus eager to learn, counting down the days until kindergarten and first grade, and evolve (often quickly) into bored, frustrated, grumpy kids for whom school is a chore and learning is something to merely endure until the bell rings?

Sure, I know it doesn't happen with every kid. There are certainly exceptions to the rule. But in our estimation (especially as we considered our own educational paths), it happens more often than it doesn't. And what a crime that is! Albert Einstein once said,  "It is, in fact, nothing short a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom."

I don't claim to be the perfect teacher, and I'm sure days will come when the kids simply don't feel like doing the work they have to do that day. But I am so grateful that I will be with them in those moments, encouraging them to find the joy in what they're doing and tweaking things here and there to meet each one of them where they're at. 

Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. -- Plato

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