the best laid plans of mice and men
often go awry
Robert Burns, To a Mouse
I’m good at planning. I love considering all the pieces and imagining what order they will best fit together. Our first year homeschooling was well planned. We used Five in a Row, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, some iPad apps, some handwriting sheets, a calendar time and Proverbs reading time. We used a Managers of Their Home scheduling method. It was so charming, well planned, and just perfect. That is, except for the kids who I kept butting heads with over all the wonderful things I had planned! I mean, when it worked it was beautiful, and I have some really treasured memories of that year. But the struggles of that year sent me searching.
I was fascinated with reading theories and research about how children learn, especially how learning works outside of a traditional school setting. I’m still fascinated by that. I began to consider what I had been learning as we moved into our second year.
Our second year homeschooling I tried to tweak this and fine tune that aspect of our curriculum and scheduling, but just nothing felt like the right fit. As I look back on that, now five years into our homeschooling journey, including gravitating towards a more unschooling and worldschooling perspective, I think that our main point of frustration stemmed from me viewing my children as my products. I was producing a glorious, carefully molded and managed product. I had a vision. But did that vision match the reality before me?
Are my children merely products their parents decided to obtain? Are they interchangeable, to be obtained or not at one’s own whim, as if the world would be no different if their parents had chosen not to obtain them?
The answer is obviously an overwhelming: No.
My children are not my products. Each of my children are unique, irreplaceable individuals, and the world is a better place, because they are in it.
Once that thought crystalized I could not unsee it. I was reminded of it in my every interaction with my children. I was reminded of it as I considered their education. The more I researched I did about how people learn, the more I kept coming across the importance of honoring inborn temperament and interests. Considering things like:
- What is my child’s learning style?
- What motivates my child?
- Is my child a right-brained learner or a left-brained learner?
- What is my child’s personality type?
Each of these questions further emphasized the point that God gave me individual, whole people with their own way of seeing the world totally separate from me.
My children are not my projects or creation. That is God’s. My part is to be a guide, to explain the world. My job is stewardship.
I do not own their path, just as they do not own mine. Yet we have been blessed with the wonderful, intimate intersection of paths for the season of their childhood. During this season our paths will be seemingly inextricably intermingled, but still our paths are not one and the same. They are each unique.
As each of my children are unique, so must their education be unique and personal. So I had to stop being the planner, and start being the observer and facilitator.