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A Word from the Wise

It's Sunday night and I'm bracing myself for another week of home schooling. While I'm not terribly worried about what a few months of our amateur (drink) teaching skills will do to the future of our kids (drink), I know there are parents out there who (drink) (drink) (drink) feel like they're failing their children. There are parents who are trying to juggle work with new careers as teachers, housekeepers, cooks, and nannies. And some of those parents are working overnight shifts and coming home to geometry, hungry kids, fighting kids, and baskets of laundry.

Neither my husband or I have an outside job and still, we find ourselves wondering how awful it would be if we just did the kids' work for them, freeing us from the (drink) burden of common core math and painfully observing Kaleb peck away at the keyboard. Third and fourth grade we would likely sail through with straight A's (or 4's as is the equivalent on elementary school report cards). (Drink) But sixth grade, I have to admit, might not be so easy. It's amazing how little I know about Mesopotamia. (Drink) So rather than look like idiots and fail sixth grade social studies, we are plugging along as teachers, knowing that a few months is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

For those of you needing a little more reassurance that your incompetent teaching skills will not ruin your kids' lives, I would like to introduce my mom who joins us as a guest blogger today, to share some thoughts on the subject from her perspective. My mom leads a very adventurous life and seems to have (drink) a story with a lesson for every problem that might arise. Her motto is "it could always be worse," and she's right. She has lived through a lot and raised four children who now live in three different countries, each of us following our passions and living very content lives. We have her encouragement, advice, and stories to thank for that, so without further ado, I'd like to share some of her wise words with you....

By Janet Gladstein

Were I the parent of a school aged child during this unprecedented time, I’d be scared too. But not just scared; also annoyed and stressed. Yes, I signed on to be a mom and thought I was prepared for the challenges along the way. But never intended to be a full-time teacher to them. I actually am trained to be teacher…but at preschool level. That I can handle. But all this newfangled math and technology and what have you? Forget about it. Not my forte. I truly do not believe that I would be able to handle the demands of trying to help with today’s lessons and even if I tried to do my best, would feel inadequate and lacking in skills.

But now I’m older and no longer “just a mother”, but a grandmother as well. I lived through a lot and learned “stuff” along the way. So, when I now try to express my opinion about how to best handle the situation, I know that many mothers would not agree with me. But, for what it’s worth, here goes…..

I know a couple who has always been of the belief that children learn best through play and experimentation. They are into homeschooling along with unschooling. They live in a rural area with neighbors scattered far and wide. They do not believe in store-bought toys and plastic is not allowed on the premises. So, growing up, their kids were pretty much let loose to discover play on their own. The children built their own toys from sticks and rocks and dirt and rope. They were very clever in their inventions and were so appreciative of their natural surroundings. They ate out of their self-sustaining gardens and were healthy and happy. Their mother read to them every night which they loved. Their father was able to teach them basics of life through example. As preschoolers they could not have asked for more.

So, as they grew I became concerned when I learned their 8 year old daughter was not reading on her own yet. I worried about her seemingly lack of knowledge in the traditional course work compared to others her age. When I visited, I realized what a clever child she was, but troubled by her inability to read. I suggested to her parents that she may have some sort of learning disability. I thought perhaps dyslexia. Or maybe she needed reading glasses. But her parents did not seem bothered or stressed and assured me she’d read when she was ready. I questioned their methods and although she was a delightful child filled with so many wonderful qualities, I was very concerned that she was not receiving the same educational opportunities I thought necessary to keep up with other children her age who were taught in ways with which I was familiar.

Now, years later, this child is a voracious reader, a leader among her peers, a joy to be with, and a true individual who knows exactly who she is and what she wants. She was never pushed or stressed by competition or expectations. Did she miss out on traditional instruction? I would say “Perhaps”. Is she any less educated because of it? My opinion, “No”.

Her parents always provided her unconditional love, attention and confidence. They gave her room to explore, encouragement to try new things, emotional support and a sense of well-being. Time tables were not in their agenda, nor rote memorization. This child’s thirst for knowledge was born on its own. Her curiosity grew out of desire for information. She was given the foundation to question and discover rather than force to memorize and recite.

My point being…. Try not to be your child’s schoolteacher. They have been assigned one. These lessons are not your responsibility. Rather, take on the job of being your child’s parent. Provide them with comfort, assurance, encouragement, incentive, protection, belief, inner strength, freedom to express themselves. By growing and developing your child’s emotional health, learning will result, developing naturally. Lessen the stress, enjoy the happiness.

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