by Kyndra Steinmann

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a number of homeschool moms who are just beginning their journey. They have the usual questions about curriculum and what they should cover when, but the question that has really stood out to me has been the one about “now that I’m teaching so and so, how do I do it?”

My answer is something like this:

“Just keep doing what you’ve been doing, only with a bit more intention and focus.”

It is important to get the idea out of our mind and hearts that learning only happens in set hours or once our child turns four or five. Nonsense! From the moment we first hold that infant in our arms, we are teaching.

Of course we don’t say it, but when we pick them up in the middle of the night and soothe and feed them, aren’t we really saying, “Dear child, this is what love is”? Isn’t this teaching?

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESL)

When they become mobile and verbal, the lessons increase in frequency and urgency. We seem to spend a great deal of time repeating explanations we just gave five minutes ago, or urgently redirecting the little hands that want to get into everything. We work all of this into the rhythm of our days, and it doesn’t seem like teaching—but it is.

Later the child learns to sit and listen to a book or color a picture, and we sit with them and read or show them where the lines are and how to stay within them. This begins to feel more like teaching, but still it is part of the flow of our days, for the most part, and it certainly isn’t something we dignify with the name of “school.” It’s just the natural intersection of our relationship and knowledge with their curiosity and wonder.

Suddenly, though, they are five or six, and now we feel that we have to “do school”! We grow anxious, wonder if we can do it, and start to stress about the whole thing. What has changed? Only the expectations of the world around us: that lessons and schooling should look a particular way, take a certain amount of time, and be surrounded by anxiety.

Okay, I’ve never heard anyone say the last bit, but even a brief observation of attitudes toward schooling makes it clear that anxiety and stress on the part of students, parents, and teachers must be a key ingredient to any successful education!

Must we play by those rules and assumptions? Or can we choose a more trusting way, one that gently continues the education already begun in the first years of life?

Obviously, there will be more and less difficult lessons. There will be days when no one wants to learn (or teach), when circumstances make even the gentlest lessons impossible. Sin will creep in and destroy what should be good. That is all true.

But where should the vision lie? Isn’t it to be fixed upon the good, the true, and the beautiful? And if it is fixed there, shouldn’t the general atmosphere reflect that vision? What is good in your homeschool? What is true? What is beautiful?

Think on these things.

Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.

 


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