I remember when I was a new homeschooler, another homeschool mom was at a field trip with her three kids and their notebooks.
My daughter didn’t have a notebook.
I kinda panicked. Should my daughter have a notebook? Was I a bad homeschool teacher?
We just came to enjoy the outing.
I’m over those thoughts now. I have developed confidence in my parenting and homeschooling over the years.
Why does everything have to be so educational?
Many of us are still so indoctrinated by the idea of school that we recreate it at home.
Everyone is so enraptured by STEAM activities, but it’s a st-r-e-t-ch to have a toddler or preschool STEAM unit study for kids who just want to play with blocks and magnets.
Trust me, they’re learning.
Psychologists and others have raised alarms about children’s high levels of stress and dependence on their parents, and the need to develop independence, self-reliance and grit…Children with hyper-involved parents have more anxiety and less satisfaction with life, and that when children play unsupervised, they build social skills, emotional maturity and executive function. ~Claire Cain Miller
Why must we have scripts and plans and printables for everything?
We speak of dreams as boundless, limitless realms. But in reality often we create parameters, conditions, and limits within which our kids are permitted to dream—with a checklisted childhood as the path to achievement.Julie Lythcott-Haims in How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success
Stop Making Everything So Educational
I’m concerned about the push for younger and younger kids to begin learning academics.
When I was in Kindergarten, I mostly played and had storytime. There wasn’t a chalkboard in the room. It was only a half-day program and we left before lunch.
My least favorite part was table time with teacher-led crafts and instructions on coloring within the lines and cutting out flower patterns cleanly.
I excelled with rule-following. I learned to be obedient and invisible.
I remember winning a coloring contest, which was just a printed page that I very lightly and neatly shaded inside the lines with colored pencils.
Free playtime was monitored and timed. It was very gender norm, with girls playing house and dolls and boys playing with building materials like blocks and Legos.
I’m not concerned about my toddler reading or doing math.
I want my kids to play and learn about themselves and the world.
Make Learning Fun?
Learning is fun!
Only unnatural learning has to be made fun.
Learning should take place naturally rather than with constant printables, YouTube videos, teacher-made crafts, box curriculum, scripts for teachers, tests.
I’m not interested in lessons on standing in line or raising hands. I’m not going to take my kids on a library field trip to learn how to use the library. My kids don’t want an etiquette course unless it involves dining with someone famous and somewhere in the UK.
Learning is fun when we’re interested in the subject.
It’s amazing to me how my children find subjects to learn about all the time – whether it’s an extension of our history and science reading, a video or song, exploring the creek and woods behind our house, or looking up trivia.
Our school system is based on shame-based learning.
Children learn quickly to avoid punishment or humiliation. Then they learn how to take standardized tests, like little lab rats in a maze.
This is not real learning.
This isn’t passion for an interest to explore.
Teacher intimidation is encouraged in teacher education programs, coined “classroom management” and principals will mark a teacher down during evaluation for a student throwing away paper or sharpening a pencil since it cuts down “time-on-task.”
Coercion is the practice of compelling a person to behave in an involuntary way (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation, or some other form of pressure or force.
Arguments are that society is coercive for success.
But we choose to follow speed limits, go to appointments on time, submit to work deadlines, eat healthier, exercise, etc.
By choosing not to do good things, there are typically natural consequences.
By speeding while driving, I could endanger myself or others. I am discourteous to others when I am late. My body will get sick or injured if I don’t eat well or exercise.
Grades, shame, and humiliation are not natural consequences.
Many kids are encouraged to work harder at school than ever before in our history.
But for what?
Children now often spend more time at school and at homework than their parents spend at their full-time jobs, and the work of schooling is often more burdensome and stress-inducing than that of a typical adult job. ~Peter Gray
Intensive parents monitor children so closely that there is no wiggle room for unorganized play.
We live in a punitive society, still based on Puritan ideals.
Zero-tolerance policies create a school to prison pipeline. Students are taught to combat authority instead of learning. They just learn from fear. They’re conditioned in avoidance. The ones who rebel or think outside the box are punished for nonconformity.
When is Playtime?
A child’s job is to play.
Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. ~Mr. Rogers
Exploration boosts creativity.
Pretend play boosts social skills.
Unorganized, unsupervised, undirected play is vital to children.
Loose parts and multi-tasking simple toys are best for healthy child development. They invite creativity more than single-use electronic teaching toys.
I wonder why so many children in the last few decades are developing issues with self-regulation and are on meds to help them with executive functioning and self-control?
We’re drugging our children so they can “succeed” in failing school models.
They’re cutting recess, music, and art from schools and replacing it with more and earlier academics and testing. This isn’t right or healthy.
These are the most important aspects of being human.
When I feel out of sorts, it’s because I need more outside time in nature, more music, more art.
I see parents at the park, directing their children how to play on the playground equipment.
I hear parents warning their kids: be careful, don’t play with the rocks, don’t go near the creek, don’t get dirty.
Kids are bombarded with warnings and aren’t allowed to be children, to explore, to take any risks.
Signs are posted in public spaces to stay off the grass, away from the water. No this, No that.
We live in a fearful society and kids are suffering from Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Having taught many children of all ages for over ten years – public and private, elementary, middle school, high school, and college – I have homeschooled my four children these past fifteen years.
We need to just let children be children.
- How Children Learn by John Holt
- The Underground History of American Education, Volume I: An Intimate Investigation Into the Prison of Modern Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
- Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
- Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
- Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray
- Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
- No Contest: The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn
- Schooling Beyond Measure and Other Unorthodox Essays About Education by Alfie Kohn