Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 42 – Embracing Slow. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!
Our society tells us that we need to be busy. We must be productive all day, even monetizing our hobbies. That idea has also infiltrated our children’s education. Get up early, rush to catch the school bus, spend 7 hours at school. Then come home, do 2 hours or more of homework, attend sports practice, and squeeze in a quick meal. Eventually, they get to go to bed, just to do it all over again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.
Many of us actually chose to homeschool because we don’t want that lifestyle of busyness for our children. But at the same time, we want to make sure we give our children the best possible education. This means taking advantage of all of the available opportunities, right? And there are so, so many wonderful opportunities. So what inevitably happens next? We end up rushing through our wonderfully laid-out lesson plans, so we can rush out the door to get to 3 different activities! Then we feel just as frazzled with homeschooling as we would have if we sent our children to public school.
OK, now let’s stop for a minute. Remember we chose to homeschool because we wanted something different, right? Something better, for our children? We are already bucking the system and living a counter-culture lifestyle. We are giving our children the gift of our time and our attention. Let’s also give them the gift of slowing down.
One of my favorite things about Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy is the idea of short lessons. We want to keep our children’s focus, and we don’t want to waste their time with lectures and overly long lessons. Spend 10 – 30 minutes per subject, constantly keeping their attention on their lessons. This doesn’t mean we rush from one lesson to the next. This means we focus deeply on each subject, but spend just enough time on it that our children can give it their full attention.
Where a traditional school day might take 7 hours, a homeschool day might only take 3 – 4. This means we end up with a lot of free time in the afternoons. Your inclination may be to fill that time with activities. Maybe you feel guilty that your school day is too short. Maybe you just want to take advantage of all the opportunities available. Either way, I’m asking you to stop. Instead, let them have that time to themselves.
There is nothing inherently wrong with joining extracurricular classes, and co-ops, or participating in team sports or theater. All of those are wonderful and can be quite beneficial to our children. But when you find yourself constantly rearranging your schedule to make everything fit, it has simply become too much! Our days shouldn’t be spent running around and feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week.
Sometimes our children need time to just be. To become bored. To stare into space and imagine. To breathe.
You might feel like that is a waste of time. That is a lie told to us by a society that has worked itself to death. What if instead, we chose to just stop? What if we stand still, bask in this one moment every now and then?
Think of what meaningful things you could have time for if you spent less time constantly driving from activity to activity. You could plan a garden, bake cookies, or read a book. Maybe spend a day at the art museum really looking at art, or watch the clouds float through the sky. Perhaps you can take a walk through the freshly fallen snow?
Before you sign your child up for everything, ask yourself, how will my child benefit from this? What will they lose by adding another activity to our schedule? Then choose just one or two things that they can truly focus on deeply, rather than a different class or activity every day of the week.
Let us give our children the gift of slowing down. In a world that is telling them to hurry, to rush, to check off a box and get to the next thing, let’s give them the space to stop and just be. To find their own way and forge a new path. One that doesn’t make them feel hurried and frazzled.
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 18 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.