Take Learning Rests
Sometimes in our efforts to instruct our kids, we push, push, push them to complete books, to go to the next level as soon as the previous one is mastered, to move from easy-readers to chapter books as soon as the child is comfortably reading the easy-to-read book. Sometimes we cram a lot in a day just because the morning felt productive and we think we need to “capitalize” on all this good learning energy before it dissipates.
Other times, we push for different reasons. The end of the year is nigh and we worry we didn’t do “enough” of whatever subject. We see a child struggling with times tables or spelling and we worry that that child hasn’t gone up a grade level so we double our efforts to make that child work harder, to compensate for our worry that the child isn’t making the kind of progress we expected.
Some kids quit working on a difficult-for-them skill—they refuse, won’t budge, complain. We turn the screw and require them to keep trying—to reassure ourselves that the child isn’t going to give up on this subject forever.
Deep breath. You have time for all of it—and you will have more success if you simply let go once in a while.
Skills sometimes magically solidify when you let time go by. Truly. A child who is breaking down in tears over handwriting or reading is not learning. A month or two off strangely allows what was taught to simmer quietly (invisibly). When you return, maturity and rest often lead to a breakthrough (or at minimum, renewed energy to try again).
Rest also looks like time off of everything—not just the difficult subject. Some days deserve to be “wasted”—days where climbing a tree or running around with the dog or watching television are considered “on task.” Concentration is not only given during an individual task. Concentration for the routine of homeschool is a months long commitment of mind and attention. It’s one reason I did enjoy taking summers off with my kids. It felt good to let go of the schedule and to wake up any old time each day with nothing on the agenda but swimming at the YMCA and taking walks and baking cookies and sharing the home space with no particular direction from me.
Learning rests allow you and your kids to grow, to rest, to mature, and to flourish. It is absolutely on task to take them. You can even say to a struggling child, “Thanks for that painful effort you just put in. I think we all deserve a rest. Let’s put this subject aside for X amount of time and allow your very smart brain to make connections for you while we eat Popsicles and run through the sprinklers.”
It’s a great model for kids, too, to learn to pay attention to their need for breaks and a rest. In fact, most adults need to learn how to let themselves off the hook more often—to allow the mind to go fallow, to stop performing, to pause the endless drive to improve self.
Take your shoes off and sip some lemonade.
And grow without doing anything.