I’ve had the pleasure of recently becoming friends with a women who is new to my area and new to homeschooling. Last year she brought her 4 children home to school for the first time, and while I think she is doing a bang up job, she still has her doubts. Yesterday she confided in me that she feels like she’s freaking out on a weekly basis, thinking about all the things that they “need” to experience and learn and how she can possibly meet those needs. She asked if I ever felt that way when we first started out.
Honestly, I had to laugh!
I still feel this way on a semi-regular basis, and my children have been home with me since birth! Really that’s something that I think we all go through at one point or another. It’s so easy to get bogged down with the wealth of information that’s available to us these days. But at the end of every year, when I’m sitting down and sorting through the year’s work to send to the school district, I can see how much progress they’ve made and I feel better about things. And since I’ve now had this experience several times, I’m able to remind myself of that when those feelings come up.
I’ve also come to believe that it’s not so much about accumulating as much knowledge as possible, but the process of learning that matters. Sarah spoke a bit about this concept last week and I think she’s dead on. I wholeheartedly agree that the goal of education shouldn’t be to teach children everything in the world there is to learn, but to teach them *how* to learn so that they can learn anything in the world that they need. From there the possibilities are endless.
I think we all tend to worry about all of the “things” we want them to learn, but it’s really the skills and the affect that the process of learning has on the child that is important. For that reason, I think it would behoove us as parents and educators to really live into our lessons. To take our time with them and really experience them for what they are, rather then just rushing from one thing to the next and worrying about “fitting it all in”. That’s where the work happens on the child. And what a wonderful lesson to learn, this slowing down for what is important!
And I don’t mean this all from an entirely practical and logical sense. I believe that there are some very real changes that happen in a child’s heart and soul as they come to know about the world and how things work, while learning about themselves through that experience. One of the things that I really like about Waldorf education is the effort that is made to match subject matter with the developmental phase that the child is in. It’s not just a straightforward they can do A, B and C and therefore are ready for D, but an outlook that encompasses soul development as well. It asks what their hearts are ready for and feeds both mind and heart at the same time, slowly growing the strength of self-awareness and self-discipline.
And that’s all from me for now….