Sometimes we just want the best of both worlds. Ok, a lot of the time. And our kids’ summers are often one of those want-our-popsicle-and-eat-it-too kind of scenarios. We want to give our kids those laid back, lazy, carefree, hot and hazy summers most of us look back on so fondly . . . but we don’t want our kids going off that crazy “summer slide” (and I don’t mean a slip n’ slide, people). I’m referring, of course, to that loathsome “summer learning loss” that for the majority of kids out there is nearly as certain this season as a sunburn. And it’s almost as painful, too!
Watching our kids lose academic ground that was gained so faithfully (perhaps even painstakingly) all year long . . . it’s like that moment when the tide rolls in and washes away an entire wall of our three-story, turreted sand castle.
So, we want to keep our kids engaged and actively learning in their summer months. But . . . we also don’t want to be the dreaded “Summer Squelcher” ; you know, that parent who chases their kids around all summer long waving fact sheets and reading logs in their faces. Yeah, that’s not an inspiring image 😆 . I think what most of us want to emulate lies somewhere between drill sergeant and pushover. But what exactly does that look like? And how do we accomplish this?
For me, the meeting place between strict and indulgent (when it comes to academics) looks a lot like slow and steady wins the race. I think we would all do well to dethrone “rigorous education” in favor of “responsible education.“ You can’t go hard all the time, it’s just not sustainable. Plus, it’s really not enjoyable! And shouldn’t enjoyment count for a whole heck of a lot? Furthermore, “rigorous education” often enacts “pendulum learning” –on, off . . . up, down . . . ahead, behind. And I don’t know about you, but that kind of schooling just sounds exhausting. Not to mention way too much drama for this mama.
Flip that coin, however, and we also don’t want our kids’ schooling to be sluggish or . . . fluffy. After all, underwhelmed isn’t really any better than overwhelmed. In fact, it may be worse. But perhaps we can find a happy medium between overloading and unloading. Maybe we can have the best of both worlds –summer or not.
If we persistently, faithfully, and even gracefully hack away at something (even a very big something) day after day, year after year, we can make quite a cavern even without making a lot of commotion.
And then there’s LOVE to consider.
What kind of education do we really want for our children, anyway? Sure, we want them to be able to read and write and compute. That’s kind of a given. But is that all we want for their education?
Do we just want to check off all of those boxes? Or do we really, in our heart of hearts, want to fill their baskets –nourishing our children not just in mind, but in body and soul as well?
Do we want them to be at their reading and math levels and call it a day? Or do we want to impart to our kids a true LOVE FOR LEARNING in all it’s delightful diversity?
To pass on (or cultivate along with them) a love for art, music, nature, God, literature, people; to ignite in them a truly insatiable LOVE FOR LIFE?
I think the answer is clear for almost any parent. We want the whole enchilada! In this case the hol….istic enchilada. And yet, even though our ANSWER is clear, unfortunately our ACTIONS often work toward the reverse. We may desire deep, delight-directed learning for our kids. But . . . we’re conditioned to put those core subjects at the top of the totem pole. Every. Single. Time.
Be assured, I’m not knocking math and reading. I agree that both are crucial to our children’s development. I just don’t think they are *necessarily* more crucial than learning practical life skills, nature appreciation, self-esteem, heritage, creativity, or ethics (to name just a few). They are at least not more important each and every day.
And then of course, we tend to drastically overextend ourselves, giving our kids whatever we have leftover . . . which often isn’t much, or very pretty, for that matter. We’re so overloaded and exhausted that more often than not, I think what we do (and especially what we don’t do) with and for our kids often boils down to whatever is easiest. For us. And for today.
We shy away from a brilliantly beautiful education for our children simply because it’s overwhelming. There are so many possibilities! So many inspiring avenues! Such opulence! A world of opportunity! At the end of the day, checking off those basic, bland, underwhelming boxes is just so much easier. Sometimes it’s almost like since we know we can’t do everything, we practically do nothing. Or at least the bare minimum. Perhaps this is how and why our standard education system has gotten where it is today? Ease and efficiency before excellence?
Maybe it’s just proven easier to track the computing mind than it is to teach the critical one.
Perhaps it’s easier to merely feed the child than it is to nourish him.
Maybe tending to the brain is simply less daunting than cultivating the heart and soul.
We keep trying to chop down trees so we can see that forest. But a truly inspired education isn’t achieved by such short cuts; the thinning and clear-cutting of wisdom to get to knowledge faster. Only too late do we find that we have veritably destroyed both.
In the end, we (myself included) are often apt to settle for simply meeting the standard. That, my friends, is when we miss out on the extraordinary.
🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤
Check out our practical-application part two here:
Thanks ever so much for reading!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~