Perspective for the Homeschool Mom that Feels Behind
There is always that one post in your social media feed that makes you panic. You know the post.
It makes you feel like you are a terrible mom. That you have failed your kids. That you have ruined the future of your kids. That you didn’t do enough. That time is running out.
I get that feeling, too.
But, behind that picture and social media post are hours of intentional input. And that is often what gets forgotten as we look at posts about young, bright prodigies.
A few years ago, I dived into what some would call extreme early learning.
It is unfairly characterized by this fear-driven, demanding tiger mom with flash cards and a baby.
On the contrary, the philosophy that surrounds it is joy and excitement, both for child and parent.
It was an exercise of faith for me when I started early learning. The motto of this form of early learning is input, input, input and only when they are in their most joyful moods. And so, I did it for many months seeing very little results. (Why are we so result driven?)
We went through a baby reading curriculum. We sang lots of learning songs. We read and read. We watched some learning videos sprinkled here and there (or maybe more than I care to admit as I tried to tackle three kids under five). It took almost a year before he was reading whole sentences.
Before I knew it, the reading toddler taught himself every capital, state, country, flag, and major landmarks all around the world. People always want to say gifted.
But the reality is, he spent hours obsessing over geography for several years. Do you know how fun reading geography books are? It was hours…
I emphasize “hours” because while toddlers can memorize and learn to do a lot and do it joyfully, it takes consistency and time. It is work they enjoy but its work.
I know what you are thinking, “Seriously? Is this encouraging? Now my kid is behind in geography!”
Focus for a moment on “time.” The reality is babies and toddlers are learners, but they are not efficient learners. It takes a baby 15,000 hours of hearing a language before becoming proficient. But an adult? Less than 1000 hours.
If you haven’t heard of language hackers, these are language learners that learn a new language in 3 months or less. The key to their success?
Make learning come to life.
In a Ted Talk by Gabriel Wyner, Wyner goes over why language learning is such a struggle. In the talk, he demonstrates the capacity to learn a language quickly is connected to story-making.
But this is so true for learning any subject. Story-making creates for us a multi-sensory experience, a mini life. It’s a memory that has strong connections to smell, sight, taste, touch, and sound. The brain is engaged on many levels.
Rich stories stick with us, unlike those stand-alone random facts for which you must work hard to retain.
Today, my baby-reading-geography-nut is not going to a geography bee. He lost his passion for it. He moved on to other interests. He doesn’t devout hardly any “time” to it. Was it still a great experience?
Yes, he learned to love learning and working hard. Plus, he gained an appreciation for the diverse world around us. I am a huge advocate for early learning mostly because it was a great bonding experience and it saved me time later, but I am a realist.
Too many amazing people were late bloomers for me to say that this kind of early learning is the only way for kids to fulfill their potential. I truly believe there are lots of great ways to raise a kid.
But one thing remains the same. A story always wins. We always remember a good story, a silly story, a funny story, a painful story, and tear-jerking story. Stories shape us.
When I sit down with my kids to talk about fractions of fractions, I pull out the rods and a play mat. We build not just with rods but with a story.
I tell silly stories with funny voices like, "Today, I am a greedy grizzly bear stomping about. I am hungry for delicious chocolate cakes. Give me seven halves of four-tenths of your cake. How much cake is missing?”
They laugh and tell me, “Mom, you ate the whole cake!”
I laugh and reply, “Right you are, and it was de-licous.”
And so, we play with rods, stories, and math. I encourage you to help your child find the stories that make math alive for them.
There is no one who knows your kid like you. You know the stories that will make them laugh and remember.
Your child doesn’t need to learn to read as a baby or work through a fifth-grade math book by age six to make it in life, to be wildly successful.
They only need you to be a mom that believes in them and helps them find the stories that ignite their passion and help them remember.
But believing in them requires that you believe in yourself. Those well-meaning social media posts can leave us doubting ourselves and stirring up fear. We fall victim to the comparison trap.
You are enough. You still have time, time to inspire, time to laugh, time to learn so much more.
I think Gattegno or someone had said that you could get through elementary mathematics in a year and a half. I think the older the kid is, the truer that statement is, so you've got time.
Celebrate your parent journey. Grab a delightful book and get inspired to tell and live a great story.
*this comes from an email I wrote a while ago that many found encouraging, so I decided to share it on the blog.