"Mom, we just got here," she chided.
"It's freezing, Julianna," her best friend, Marla backed me up.
But, Julianna was determined. It was the first day of spring break and she wanted to ENJOY the beach. Hah! It was chilly and windy. But, I had promised to go, so I slid my sweat pants down to my bathing suit. Immediately, goose bumps rose and I felt chilled to the bone. I grabbed a winter blanket and cuddled inside of it, wondering why Christians have to keep their word anyway.
The hours dragged on unmercifully until it was time to leave. Now, keep in mind, the beach is my very favorite place on earth and had I been wearing a parka that day, I would have enjoyed myself. But, timing is everything.
In homeschooling, timing is everything too. Just like Julianna tried to rush summer fun ahead of schedule, we can rush into teaching subjects ahead of our children's time table. Children are unique and learn at different times and paces.
When to Start Formal Education
Katie Beth, my oldest daughter, was ready to learn her to read at the age of 4. How did I know. Well, I copied pictures of each of the letters from the phonics program I intended to use and hung them on the wall in the dining room of our small seminary apartment. I made paper, scissors, glue, markers, crayons, and other art supplies available for her in a large drawer in the china cabinet. When she began to copy the letters on her own and ask to write her name, I knew that interest was there.
I had been reading aloud to her several times a day and she loved to pretend to read books to her dolls. We started a fun phonics program that involved learning phonics rules through songs.
Another daughter was not ready to learn to read until the age of 6, almost 7. I tried a couple of times to start reading instruction and she was just not ready. But when she was finally ready, it went smoothly.
The Early Years
The early years of childhood are the perfect time to prepare children for a lifetime of enthusiastic learning. Reading well-written, beautifully illustrated storybooks aloud, picnics at the park, and playground fun can fill your days. All the things mothers do naturally: teaching animal sounds, make up silly rhymes, singing songs together, and talking to children about family history introduce your little ones to learning in a fun way. Baking together, cleaning together, setting the table together, and shopping together introduce educational concepts to your sons and daughters. You can stop and look at leaves, bugs, flowers, and small critters when you go on natures walks. Or bring along a sketch pad and fill it with your discoveries.
Don't rush this time or turn learning into hard work. Enjoy living life together with your family, knowing they are learning so much in their memory-making moments with you. There will be plenty of time for formal education in the future. Fill the preschool years with precious memories that last a lifetime.
Your Child's Pace
When to Go Back and Start Over
If you feel rushed and overwhelmed with your homeschooling, you may need to go back and start over. Teaching your beloved children should not be a race to see how quickly you can cram as much knowledge as possible into them. Learning should take place at a relaxed pace where freedom to stop and explore more deeply is part of the learning process. Is every minute scheduled? Maybe you need to reconsider the timing of your homeschooling day and overall plan.
Dear friends, don't rush and don't dawdle. Enjoy these precious years!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)