Take it easy
Sometimes in our zeal to create the ideal, we forget that our kids are still young and can tire easily. We don’t have to do it all, to do it well. Here are a few things to keep in mind when your enthusiasm for learning creates cranky kids.
1. Remember the Brave Writer one-thing principle.
Pick one thing that you want to do with your kids and only do that one. Prepare for it. Set it up to succeed. Enjoy it while it’s happening. Reminisce about how great it was. Do not pass go or collect new activities to attempt until you have happily followed all four steps.
2. Take breaks.
If you go on a nature walk, the idea isn’t to race through the hills tracking as many birds as possible. The idea is to walk at a pace that everyone can handle, stopping to examine a bug on the ground or to run fingers over moss or to eat granola bars. Look for birds and butterflies and chewing gum stuck to the bottom of the bench. Remember that the love of nature is cultivated by a positive experience in nature, not by a lengthy catalog of species observed or creatures sketched.
3. Know when to quit.
The photo for today’s blog is an example of when to quit. When brilliant art is less interesting than snoozing on the bench in the middle of the room, you’ve already exceeded your child’s absorption limit. Viewing art with alert children for an hour is better than dragging them through the entire exhibit for four. Your money’s worth is not measured by time but by the exhillaration of the experience.
4. Be interested yourself.
Never expect your kids to be interested in what bores you. If you just don’t have enthusiasm for Shakespeare, don’t foist it on your kids. If you find poetry too puzzling, read novels. If you wish you did have interest in art, classical music, bread baking or Scrabble, pursue it for yourself, paying attention to how you overcome your resistance and initial fear/anxiety about the topic. Then, share your enthusiasm with your kids while modeling how to overcome the intimidation factor of that particular field.
5. Enjoy the moment.
Some of the best homeschooling happens off-schedule. I used to make the mistake of thinking that it “didn’t count” if I hadn’t planned it in advance. Absurd. Years of home education have taught me that following the rabbit trail (Greek myths lead to looking up the Greek alphabet online to watching “Hercules” by Disney) , seizing the moment (reading four chapters while interest is strong rather than the usual two), scrapping the schedule (to accept an invitation to see newborn puppies) usually produce the highest quality memories and learning.
Remember: joy is the best teacher. Tune into joy and you’ll be tuned into your kids and learning.