A beloved friend and I were recently chatting about one of our favorite topics: our kids. This time we were dipping our conversational toes into the realm of education since our oldest children are nearing preschool age. It can be a daunting topic for us moms who are also continuing to juggle nights of interrupted sleep with potty training and younger siblings and everything in between…and now we have to add ABCs and 1-2-3 on top of all that?? But it’s also a subject that I positively LOVE and am completely passionate about. I never have my fill of learning and relish teaching even more.
As a certified secondary education teacher I have spent much time pondering the academic realm and what is required to have a thriving student. I have come to the conclusion that the success of a classroom lies in the vision the teacher has for each of her students; that vision must incorporate the final outcome of those being educated. What is that outcome? Adulthood. Education is the equipping of children for their adult lives. Both teachers and parents can become so immersed in the nitty-gritty of surviving the day that the destination for which we are aiming gets lost in the shuffle. I know! I’ve been there (in both roles). However, I believe that articulating our vision and then reminding ourselves of it on a daily basis can truly clarify and simplify the purpose of each day. Perhaps our days have come down to mere survival because we are overloaded with unnecessary extras. Streamlining and prioritizing routines, responsibilities and requirements throughout a week can help us achieve our goals and reach our destination in a less haphazard fashion.
As a mom I frequently reflect on how I can be the devoted teacher to my children that I was for my students. I don’t want to be so engrossed in mothering that I neglect educating or so obsessed with educating that I set mothering on the back burner. In seeking to achieve the needed balance, I have applied myself to studying my children. During these toddler/ early preschool years, formal school time is not a necessity therefore I have done very little of it and yet they are learning dozens of facts, skills and words every single day. How is this possible? They are teaching themselves! As this realization dawned on me, I tuned in even more to their self-teaching processes and am amazed by their innate ability to soak in and apply new knowledge every day. Inquiry, repetition and application are their favorite methods of self-directed learning. I am making mental notes of their present learning process so that in the future, when formal education becomes a requirement, I can implement their preferred methods and styles of learning. Most of all, I am intent on preserving their delight in learning.
As an individual who loves to learn I often wonder why so many who are so young despise it. I believe that this dislike does not come with a developmental stage, rather children are conditioned towards it. School is considered work and work is something to avoid or endure until something fun comes along. It doesn’t have to be this way. With creative intention, we teachers and parents can faithfully present education as a wonderful world of discovery, adventure and joy. Our children are born knowing this, but through the influence of those around them they soon lose the number one key to being a successful student and thriving adult: a hunger to learn. And it begins in the home. Whether we are home-schooling parents or not, we are all responsible for our children’s education by taking note of how they learn, when they learn and why they learn; nurturing their mental health as diligently as we nurture their physical health; and creating a home environment that celebrates learning, working and creative playing. Most importantly, we, as parents, should never stop learning ourselves. Learn something new today and share your excitement with your kids!
**I hope to write more on this topic in future blogs. Please send me your questions and comments so that I can incorporate them in my posts**