Trusting the children - originally posted 1/14/08

Trust the kids 

Trust the children. Is a wonderful book based on John Holt's educational philosophy. Those words changed my life.

There seems to be a belief in education and parenting that children want nothing that is good for them. Children, unless forced to learn, to help around the house, or to eat well, they would never do so of their own volition. I do not believe this. Children want to learn. They want to work. They want good things.

Young children love to assist with housework and chores. They clamor to do "big" things. They are fascinated by their world and ask millions of questions when they are young. They want to learn about their world. Is it a coincidence that these desires and habits tend to dry up at around 9 or so when kids are in school? The answer is no, it's not a coincidence.

Children can't wait to rush off to Kindergarten. They love school, and look forward to it. Why then does this gradually disappear over the next few years? Within a few years, kids hate school, they are bored. Parents and educators scratch their heads and wonder what happened.

When I began to let go of the fear that my children would not learn unless I made them learn. Our lives, our home school began to change in amazing ways.

The children spend the bulk of their spare time in useful, worthwhile endeavors. Sure some time might be spent here and there watching tv or playing a video game but compared to their traditionally schooled counterparts it's largely insignificant.

They spend their time reading, playing music, writing, doing art, playing games and spending time with the sibs.

They want a well run, clean home. They want a home and a family they can be proud of. They are willing to contribute to make that happen.

Sadly, I believe, the rigors of traditional school which tends to characterize their childhood hammers those desires right out of them. 

When I refer to "rigors" I don't mean getting an education. I mean the schedule, the pace, the boring repetitive nature of their daily life. My childcare kids get so excited when there is any deviation in their routine. Yesterday was pajama day, and they were thrilled. Anything at all to break the hum drum routine of the normal school day.

My kids said not a word. They thought it was so sad that staying in your pj's for the day was a big deal. We do that a couple days a week! It's great when we are doing a study/reading day and we curl up in our sweats in the family room by the fireplace.

Kids long to learn about the incredible world God created for them, they long for our time and attention. They don't mind contributing to their environment and they want good things. If they don't seem to want that, you have to start asking the question...why?

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