Early Childhood Education

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The photo above is deceiving.  It looks like one of our middle daughters is helping our 3 year old baby “do school,” but Baby does not do any formal schooling whatsoever.
 
She wants to work in a book like her older siblings, and I let her do as much or as little as she likes. I don’t check her work (except to cheer her on), make her do the pages in order, or require her to sit and focus for any length of time.  At her age, I could care less if she had no interest in “school” at all! 
 
I am not a proponent of formal early childhood education for several reasons (another post for another time), so, by way of encouragement to other homeschool Moms who feel overwhelmed at the thought of adding one more student to the mix, I wanted to share this story.
 
Not too terribly long ago, we were in a very difficult season of life. I was stretched to the max emotionally and physically, and I couldn’t see how I could manage homeschooling another school-aged child. We made the decision to delay bookwork another year for this newly minted Kindergarten-aged kiddo. We hadn’t seen any red flags in other families who had done this, but oh, how I still hoped and prayed I would not be doing our precious little one a disservice by encouraging another year of play instead!
 
 
God was merciful and restored my strength and energy the following year. Naturally, I ordered the workbook I had intended for this child to begin with the previous year. My husband took one look at it and laughed. “This is way too easy!” he said. I wasn’t so sure.
 
He flipped to the back of the book and asked our child one of the math questions. The answer was correct and instantaneous.
 
Another question.
 
Same deal.
 
Every question was answered correctly without hesitation. Nothing had been lost or delayed by waiting an extra year. In fact, upon ordering the next level, we discovered that the level our child was “supposed” to be in was also too easy! 
 
Rest assured, none of our children are exceptionally gifted prodigies. They are capable of intelligence, as all persons are, because they have been created in the image of God with a capacity for knowledge and understanding. This is one of the communicable attributes God gave to humankind. Delaying formal education does not get in the way of this! 
 
 
You simply cannot stop a child from learning. Without any proper lessons, tests, or bookwork, your children have learned to eat, walk, and speak their first language. Most likely, this happened in a loving environment where milestones were encouraged and met with cheers and delight. Children thrive in an atmosphere where they are loved and appreciated. If you are in a season where this is “all” you have the strength for, watch and be amazed: the rest will fall into place. 
 
They will learn to add and subtract playing Lego. They will learn new words and their definitions in the context of a good story they snuggle up to you for. They will learn how to tell time by noticing the hands of the clock as you gather for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They will observe colors, shapes, and the numbers of legs on the insects that scurry across your path when you stroll through nature together, and draw pictures of your collected treasures.  
 
 
They will have a thousand questions about the world in which they live, and an unhurried education will leave you time to answer them. Something in the wonder of discovery will spark an interest.
 
Follow the spark. 
 
It may lead to library trips, and conversations with people who are passionate about the same topic, and unprompted journal entries, and basic math as they figure out how much more they need to save to invest in more of what they love.  
 
This is what Miss Mason calls self-education: knowledge a child makes his own possession.
 
This is the result of an innate eagerness to learn that cannot be suppressed.
 
Unless, perhaps, it is schooled out of a child.   

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