God's Mercy, Home, Intentional Mothering

The Foundation Years: Letting My Kids Just Be.

I wrote awhile back how we are considering homeschooling our two children. This is still very much on the cards, and my husband is about 70% convinced it’s a good schooling option {compared to the 5% when I first brought it up!}.
Just with every major life decision, I have spent much time in reading and praying over the reasons/positives/negatives about it all. And I can honestly say that, as I have done so, the Lord has really surprised me. 
My original reason why I wanted to educate our children at home {ie. there are no good schools in our area and I think God might want us to} is now a periphery reason. Even my conviction that it provides a really solid education is not where God has surprised me. My happy surprise has been this:
Home is where my children should be for as long as possible.
In all my reading, the conclusion I have come to is this: research shows that the influence of parents and family during a child’s foundational years is fundamental to their health and well-being. Not only that, but, educationally, children learn best when they can take their time and grow/learn at their own pace. Self-directed and guided learning in childhood sparks a life long joy and delight in learning.
I have never been a person who takes the status quo without thinking it through. That has always made me a bit different. My parents taught me from an early age to try and see past the surface to the why’s and how’s of situations and ideologies. My history degree taught me an array of new ideas and concepts, but most enduringly, the simple fact that our culture today is the odd one out.

And it frustrates me when others do not see this. They take the status quo and accept that either,

  • this is the way it has always been, or,
  • our society is more advanced now so this way must be better/more evolved/more fulfilling {and so it goes}.

Sometimes I feel my insides spiking a fever of “Use your brains! Think outside of now! The way things are doesn’t mean it’s better!”

And for Christians who, genuinely without realising I believe, I want to say,
“Just because our culture sends kids off to school at five-years-old doesn’t mean that it is right.”
Childhood in western society today is a pendulum of experiences unlike any other in the past. They have health, they have freedom from work/pain/suffering/fear, they have education, they have gadgets, they have individuality. Children today have gained so much and yet, have lost so much as well. And the most significant loss I believe they suffer through is the loss of their family as the primary source of worth, friendship, learning and wisdom.
Time goes so quickly. My son is just over three – wasn’t he born not long ago? And my daughter, she is two in July. We no longer have babies in the house – but I have only been a mother three years. Time is just sucked up into the vacuum of fading memories. In less time that he has been alive, according to the status quo, I ought to be sending him to a place where he spends the majority of his days for the next thirteen years. 
Five years. That is all I’m “supposed” to get.
Historically, educationally, relationally, theologically that just doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t.
Now, I’m not ganging up on school. I wasn’t homeschooled – I’ve been to big schools, country schools, public schools and christian schools. I see great benefit in being in such an environment. But, I firmly believe now, only when children are ready
Schools in my area of New Zealand are changing dramatically. Modern Learning Environments are the new “thing” for education {even though they tried it in the sixties and it didn’t work, but hey, we have technology now and we are more advanced so that time/failure doesn’t count} and at the school my children are zoned for, they would be new entrants in a single building {with no walls} holding three hundred children. Three hundred. At five years old.
Why that makes sense when research {over and over again} shows children learn better the smaller the class room. Who knows what politicians are thinking?
Sensory bin.
Anyway, that is just not an option. And not just because it’s nuts. Primarily that is not an option because our children are our children. Our community and society can have them one day, but not yet. They are just not ready. They need time to mature, know their place in the world, grow in beliefs that are rejected in most institutions.
So until they areready {ten? eleven?}, I’m letting them be with us. Yes, we’ll do “proper” learning, but even then, it will look different. We’re going to read ridiculous amounts of books. We’re going on lots of walks. We’re going to kill lots of dragons with homemade bow and arrows. We’re going to listen to a lot of Batman by Danny Elfman {at least three times a day, currently}.
These foundation years, we never get them back. So I am grabbing hold of them and living them to the fullest. Childhood that is family {and not schooling and peers and fads} is back in. There is no status quo around here.

17 thoughts on “The Foundation Years: Letting My Kids Just Be.

  1. Sarah, you and your children will be so blessed by spending these years *together* and although I am really thankful that we now homeschool, my only regret is that we did not do it sooner! Also, really like your new blog theme 🙂

  2. Thank you Gwen x I am really grateful the Lord has laid this on my heart so early and that he is helping my husband see this too. {PS: I bought the graphics on Etsy and did the whole thing myself!}

  3. Love this Sarah!!! I couldn't agree more! Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! 🙂

  4. Thank you Sarah, That was so encouraging!Even though we have been homeschooling for 5 years, it's good to be reminded why..

  5. I sent my kids off to school at 4 or 5 and by the time my oldest was in second grade (my youngest was only 5) I decided that school just wasn't for us. I was terrified to homeschool and have to teach my youngest to read. But letting them learn and discover at their own pace has had so many tremendous rewards. I love learning alongside my kids and feel that as a family we are so much closer, more grounded, and more likely to question the “norms” that everyone else takes for granted. Good luck!

  6. Your reasons are sound and I think every parent struggles with this decision at one point. The public schools and even the private sector has changed and continues to change and that to me is not always a good thing.

  7. I just wish politicians in education would use sound judgement and give schools {and students} the option to opt into their latest scheme/vision rather than forcing them to {by refusing funding etc.}.

  8. Good morning! This is just a little note to let you know this article has been * featured * today for our monthly feature on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! Thank you for joining us and have a lovely week! 🙂

    P.S. We hope to see you at this week's link up!

  9. Haha, love typos!

    I really like Charlotte Mason's approach as well, though I think I will take it very loosely. But her general principles are just gems.

    Thanks so much for all your comments today!

  10. I love your writing and am so moved by this post. What a wonderful blessing it is to see past the distractions and lures of the status quo to the uniquely beautiful, simple, and important. God is such a good shepherd, and I have found that time and time again, when we seek His will, He is so faithful to open our eyes to His purposes that far surpass my own expectations. Blessings to you and your family!
    Veronica recently posted…Embracing the Little YearsMy Profile

    1. Wow, what a beautiful comment. Veronica, you’re one of the women leading the way that I am following all the way at the beginning. Thank you for living an “upstream” life and giving mothers like me courage, and the sense that there are other mums out there who “get it”. Hugs x

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