“Do I have to do this?” my son pipes up from his room as he does his sit down work.
“Do I have to do this part, too?” my daughter echoes from her room after I tell my son that yes, when I assign something, I expect it to be done.
Our homeschool is still smarting from some of my early mistakes. Mea culpa.
You see, we started homeschooling when my daughter was three. Nothing huge, I will add. It was just simple stuff like cutting paper, sticking things, crafts, singing – things like that.
At the time, I was excited about homeschooling and wanting to put some structure on my day with a toddler. I thought it would help us (ahem… me!) as she got older. And then her brother came along and saw what she was doing and he got involved as well. Early.
So here we are with him at age 7 doing multiple digit multiplication and reading well above his grade level.
All well and good, right? Weeeellll, sort of. The problem is that because I started them early and because I knew that sometimes workbooks and curricula push things that children are not physiologically ready for, I would remove chunks out of whatever book we were using with the words, “Don’t do this. You’re not ready for it yet.”
Sure, we would go back to it later, but not always from the same workbook. I am endlessly eclectic in my choices. It does not bother me to leave a workbook halfway done if the concept has been internalized. But here’s the thing: the children got the message that they didn’t need to do it if they couldn’t.
While I was trying not to overwhelm them with things that were beyond their physiological capabilities, I inadvertently taught them not to apply their abilities at all. Yikes!
This mistake could easily have been avoided with some patience. I could have delayed academic learning.
Instead of rushing on ahead, I could have waited a few more years to get started. Sometimes, just because they can do something, it doesn’t mean they should.
Well, lesson learned, people! My current four year old does (almost) no formal learning, even though my daughter loves to play “homeschooling mom” with him. This time, I’ll be patient and push only when necessary – much, much later.
Of course, all is not lost and it is possible to break bad habits and learn good ones. But I’ve had to be intentional about it. And in the interim, I’ve had to hear some grumbling and groaning – some of it my own.