Did you know that a newborn’s brain is a quarter of the average adult size but then DOUBLES in size in their first year? And then by age FIVE it is nearly full grown?! That is massive growth and connections!
Does that information have you feeling like you only have a short window to stuff as much in as possible? We have a tendency to feel like we need to fill their growing brains with numbers, letters, colors, shapes. There are even programs that have two year olds reading small words. At age TWO!! Yes, their brains can and do make many thousands of connections but let us step back and ask ourselves if we SHOULD be filling their minds with facts and academics.
Children will do whatever they think will gain approval
Children love their parents and will often jump through whatever hoops they think will make their parents happy and love them. We often say that children are manipulative but I would dare say that we try to manipulate them more.
So yes if they think you will love them more or be more happy with them for saying the right answers or learning what you say is important then they will remember what color blue is and what the letter A says.
Also consider that their brains are not developed for the things we try to get them to do. Look at math for example. That part of the brain is not developed to understand abstract ideas. But they will force themselves to mold themselves to get the right answer whether they truly understand the material or not. And then, they usually tend to not like math and what good does that do them? Nothing but being able to check the right box. However, if you wait until they are a little more matured they master the concepts easily and with vigor. It is ok to wait.
Children’s potential is greater than just passing tests
We don’t need or want just facts spewed out. We have computers for that. They are meant for so much more. When you look into their eyes or think of the future you want for them, what do you see? We need inventors not just machines. Innovators not just rule followers. We need children that know how to think not just what to think.
Remember, our children are not robots that need to download the next lesson. They are hard wired to learn and explore on their own. We need to learn to get out of their way. Or if you feel like you need to be more hands on, learn with them. Explore with them. Provide learning opportunities like the zoo, art gallery, science museum. But don’t go with any assignments. Let’s fill their lives with magic and wonder!
Ways to Let them big little!
- Don’t Google the answer right away! Ask them what they think. Or come up with some ideas of your own. Make them silly sometimes.
- Read more Fairy tales. Build fairy gardens. Role play your favorite ones together.
- Sing songs together! When they wake up, while you clean, while you work, sing lullabies, silly songs, folk songs, hymns, nursery rhymes and finger plays!
- Play games, board games, outside games, made up games. Let them make up the games.
- Laugh. Laugh together, laugh at yourself.
- Read! Read books, library books, comic books, chapter books, picture books.
- Let them dress up, pretend and play.
- Let them just day dream and be lost in their own thoughts.
- Invite light, love, joy, God, curiosity, creativity.
- Let them get messy. In the kitchen, with art supplies, outside in the mud.
- Let them have time to just BE.
It is OK to wait to teach academics.
Childhood is too short anyway! Why do we try to rush it? And to what? Being an adult? Like the hard, stressful life of being an adult is something we can’t wait to throw onto them?
- Charlotte Mason says no academics until age 6
- Thomas Jefferson Education says to wait until age 8ish
- Waldorf has minimal academics starting in first grade
- Better Late Than Early is a book I am dying to read!
We put so much pressure on ourselves and think that it all depends on us. That if they learn or don’t learn something it is all our fault. But guess what? They are not Robots! They have imaginations, different gifts, talents, abilities, passions, likes, and dislikes. Children are their own persons! They have their own mission to fulfill.
Let them learn and love what they want and at their own pace. Don’t try to mold them into what YOU think they should be. Or because others told you. Or out of fear.
Try seeing them more as a seed.
Rather than clay to be molded or a statue to be carved, think of them as a garden and you are the steward. You still have your job to do but you allow them to be their own person.
Imagine you have been given this seed that you don’t know what it will grow into. You plant it in an area with the right amount of sun or shade. All you can do is offer good soil, water and some fertilizer. You will have to learn how much of what each seed needs. Each child seed is different and part of our responsibility is to learn what that magic ratio is. Being diligent to pull out weeds as they come up. You can’t make them grow any faster but you can support and work with them.
Maybe they need more shade and less sun (pressure) until they become more robust to handle the heat of the day? Are you giving them too much water (Information) that they are drowning? What kind of fertilizer (activities, games, play) do they like best? Are there weeds (screen time, bad influences, too much stuff, harmful relationships) crowding around sucking the life out of them? Don’t pull them up to look at the roots to see if they are growing. Give them the time and do your part in helping them grow. They WILL grow, but how you influence them will decide how much they flourish.
Take a big picture look
What if we step back from the pressure from others expectations and fill their minds with love and relationships? What if we stopped trying to ‘get ahead’ and instead gave them a solid foundation of self identity? Why not encourage a deeper true understanding rather than just spewing out facts? What if we developed a love of learning that lasted them a lifetime rather than running away on the day of graduation?
Think about the big and long term. What do you want them filled with? Do you value initiative, innovation, and creativity? Or just being able to pass a test? Do you value compassion, empathy, and charity or doing whatever it takes to get ahead? Take some time to consider what your Ultimate goals are and if your actions line up with them or are you just going through the checklist someone else says you should?
They will grow up soon enough. What do you want their memories to be like? What would you have liked different in your childhood? I was recently told by my father in law that there is only one thing I will always have of him. Good memories. He always tries to make good memories. What are you creating in your home? How do you want them to remember their homeschool?