As a home educator one of the most important things to me is that my children have a love for learning. As I’m sure you can imagine when learning started becoming a struggle in our house I was not a Happy momma.
We all have those visions and dreams right? We envision our children always being eager and excited. About everything. The Rock and the paper. That bug crawling up the wall. And what about those flowers in the neighbor’s yard. Let’s identify that bird and let’s learn,all about the anatomy of that worm there.
When we show them something and they feign interest or just don’t care maybe we freak out. Just a little bit? Or maybe we push them to learn something. We make an opportunity where there isn’t one. Perhaps we should have let that one go. Was it worth the struggle for them to learn what we were after?
As a child I loved to read (still do). I love flowers and animals and I always wanted to know everything about everything. My little ones are very curious. They pepper me with questions all day long and so we spend lots of time learning about all kinds of different things from animals to cars and toilets and plumbing, horses and dog training and bunnies. We identify bugs and birds eggs, we read and figure out how that dishwasher works. Why the sun co.es up and goes down when it does. Why did God make ladybugs and flying fish.
But for a while now my oldest son has lost that desire to explore and that curiosity is not as evident in him as it once was. Now I admit as he has gotten older I have allowed some anxiety to creep into our homeschool. I have thought about the future more than I have thought about the present. I have stressed out over those multiplication tables that he just can’t seem to master. And I have moved away from just sharing and exploring those things that he wants to know about.
I’m not sure how we got from a place where we enjoyed learning and exploring together to where we are now. Where we are now is not so joyful for either of us. All the lists that I have and the expectations in my head about what he should know and study and learn. They are very different from what he feels led to right now.
Now I am not advocating for any child to solely learn what they want. Of course there are things that we really must know whether we like it or not. But I think there needs to be a balance. I think we need to be realistic and gentle in how we approach things. Especially things that our children struggle with. After all if I am a mess how does that help him to struggle any less?
I have been studying more intensely lately the methods of Charlotte Mason. This woman amazes me. She is brilliant and so down to earth and yet so simple in the methods she uses to teach children. So often she says keep it simple and keep it short. I don’t think I can say honestly that I do either of those things either. Certainly I ought to.
There is a breath of fresh air that I feel when I am reading her words and I am committing them to my own family and homeschool as I learn. How important it is for children to maintain that love of learning and to cultivate the desire to continue to learn throughout all the days of their lives. We cannot live without learning and we cannot learn without living.
I think of the scriptures and how frequently they talk about the importance of having love. We must love God before all else but after that? What about everything else? Learning is so important. Love drives us to do so much does it not?
We should love our neighbor as ourselves. Include learning? How can we love our neighbor if we do not know our neighbor? Love grows and is strengthened when it is coupled with knowledge. Of course we need to make sure that our children have the right knowledge, the knowledge of God and not of the world. Yet the more they learn the more love will grow within them for all kinds of things. And I do believe love is the greatest motivator.
Let us not love in word alone but in deed as well. As we learn let us present them with opportunities to share what they are learning so that they see that it’s real. If we can put away the dry and dusty things and bring out those things that are alive and bright, full of life, surely there will be a great love that will follow.
This is a season that is full of reminders for me. It is also a time that I am going back and remembering. I think it’s so important when we feel all dried up to go back to the living water. We need to have the right frame of mind. And I love how Charlotte Mason says that education is not just books and memorization but rather it is an atmosphere and it is a way of life. Isn’t that what we want most of our children?