Image by aussiegall (quote added cc)
You know that day where everything is going along swimmingly?
- The older kids are quietly finishing pages of math and handwriting.
- The toddler is happily covered in dress up clothes.
- The baby is napping.
- The pre-reader is sounding out the words easily, conquering Frog and Toad.
- The right library books for the unit study arrived!
- The most exciting chapter in the read aloud is next.
- Bodies are healthy and fed. Showers and baths may have been taken in the last week.
- All the machines and various household systems work: cars, AC, dishwasher, washer and dryer, ceiling fans, refrigerator and ice maker, all four computers, the DVR, the TV, your lawn mower, plumbing, and gaming consoles.
- No one’s fighting. No one’s complaining. Maybe dinner is already planned.
- You and your Significant Other are getting along—good conversation, good sex.
Sit in this vision for a moment. The vision of well being—of the stars, planets, and Cheerios aligned.
Can you see it? Feel it?
When it comes, when your life hits that magical moment—what do you do?
Here’s what some of us do:
We toss a home made hand grenade into the center of the living room. We reject our ordinary happiness.
Because some of us are under the impression that things of value only happen when we’re working hard.
So, when everyone is happily completing pages, reading, and skip counting, when the home is humming and our relationship is peaceful, some of us experience an involuntary panic.
This material is too easy. She must not be learning.
He whipped through that passage too quickly. He must not be challenged.
This book is fun, so it must not be that educational.
I better take in the car.
I’m going to ask ________ about why (he or she) doesn’t _________ more often.
We move into “anticipate the next crisis” mode. To avoid the surprise attack of the next crisis, we create one—one we can control!
Instead of staying home enjoying this (surely temporary) peace, we take the show on the road—adding the challenge of managing lots of kids out in the world.
Some of us buy brand new curricula so that everyone is suddenly thrust into the learning curve of “new” rather than enjoying comfy and familiar. We can’t appreciate the joy of mastery—we only esteem struggle to learn the next step/process.
Some of us look around at our friends (in person or online heroes) and decide that what they are doing is better, and judge our happy peace as undisciplined or, conversely, not free enough.
We refuse to allow the feeling of happiness to “settle in,” because it might mean we are not being conscientious enough about educating our young.
What if we were to while away the hours without diligence and pain and struggle and effort? Would that mean we were irresponsible parents/partners/home educators?
Time for a sip of coffee.
That peace you hear? That’s the sound of your life working.
That happy completion of pages, the successful reading, the repetition of skills learned and now mastered? That’s the sound of education taking root.
No one wants to struggle with a new challenge every day. Some of the joy of learning is getting to use the skills cultivated. It feels great to copy a passage without any struggle whatsoever. It’s awesome to rip through a set of math problems, knowing you’ve got it! You get it! You can bury that page with accurate answers and even show your work.
Kids who find their daily groove and rhythm—knowing what is expected and then being able to live up to that expectation—are happy kids.
Don’t wreck it! Enjoy it!
This is the life you are shooting for! Problems will find you again, without you even trying. So for now, celebrate the modest joy of ordinary happiness and success.
Let yourself off the hook. It’s wonderful if everyone likes the curricula, finds it a bit “too easy,” and successfully moves through their work with skill. Even professional athletes repeat the same drills at age 30 that they learned in Little League—mastery relies on practice and practice is all about repetition of skills, not struggling to learn new ones all the time.
You are doing something profoundly right when you feel that whoosh of peace in your home. Pause to notice. Inhale. Then…
Exhale and smile.
Cross-posted on facebook.