I have been reflecting more and more about why I like homeschooling. I think the biggest perk for me is seeing my children be children. We do school. We do math, language arts, science, history and all the other stuff that makes school, school. Really, it only takes about two hours of our day to “do school.” The rest of our day is spent playing and drawing and reading together and exploring and so much more.
Lately we have been reading the Little House on the Prairie Series. We’ve read Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie and Farmer Boy. My kids can’t wait to go to the library and check out On the Banks of Plum Creek. Big Sis immediately identified with Mary. She wants her hair braided like Mary and prides herself on being the oldest girl. They’ve made up a part for Big Brother to play. They decided that if Mary, Laura and Carrie had a brother, his name would have been Charlie and he and Mary would have been twins.
I cannot tell you how many hours a day the kids are outside playing Little House on the Prairie. They do chores, farm, hunt, ride in wagons and so much more. I love it. I sit on the porch and listen to their little imaginations at work. If they are not playing Little House, it is something else, with other characters and in depth story lines. I can’t help thinking that if they were in school for eight hours a day and then doing homework and sports and all kinds of other things that they would miss out on these chances to head out on the prairie or into a castle and just be children at play.
This world forces our children to grow up so fast. They are bombarded with grown up images so early. The clothes sold for little girls are too grown up. Kids are pushed to read and write by the time they enter school. They are pushed to succeed academically and, in my opinion, robbed of so much of what childhood has to offer. When I was teaching four year old kindergarten, one of the hardest things to get my parents to understand was the importance of play in learning. They wanted to know that their children would be learning their letters and numbers and shapes. I tried so hard to convey how crucial play is for young children.
As I watch my kids play for hours on end, I am thankful that they are not in a hurry to grow up. I want to let them be little. I want to let them play dress up and make believe for years to come. I want them to play with sidewalk chalk and dance and swing and sing. They will have years and years to be adults. They will have to grow up, but for now, I want to let them know it’s okay to be little.