Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Stealth Schooling

I am in an incredible season of my life. I have four beautiful and amazing children aged 9-years old, 5-years old, 2-years old, and a baby due in September. I am busy, but I am happy. When my youngest son was born, we took a few weeks off from doing school work. We focused on learning how to thrive as a family of five. Guess what? It isn’t that different than being a family of four. Instead of learning how to manage with three kids, we found our love of learning.  I plan on taking this same approach come September when we become a family of six.

I will admit, the first few weeks were an adjustment. The older kids had to learn how to be gentle and quiet with their brand new baby brother. I am so blessed that the love they each have for each other is unique and completely selfless. These children are each others’ best friends, and it warms my heart to see how they greet each other every morning with smiles and giggles. My momma heart bursts with pride. (Of course, the older ones can get on each others’ nerves and there are times I am more of a referee than a mother.)
After the adjustment period we started to get into the swing of life. I decided to start schooling the children again. Let’s get out those workbooks! Ugh… who wants to do workbooks when you have a newborn clinging to your chest? Who wants to do workbooks in March when the long, cold winter has finally thawed and the birds are beckoning you outdoors? Who wants to do workbooks when cabin fever hits and you are sick of staring at the same four walls for months? Who wants to do workbooks? After a week or so of pulling teeth, bad attitudes, and overall hate of school, I decided to quit. This was the moment I made the best decision of my life. I put those workbooks on the shelf and we went outside.

My three kids. My loves.
The kids went biking. We went on walks. The kids captured worms and climbed trees. We wrote sidewalk-chalk love letters to each other. We painted. We got dirty and loved every minute. We went to the library once a week and would take out at least a dozen books on a topic that interested us. We read every day. My oldest started to read at night in his bed. Daddy would work on math with my son, but other than that there was no formal learning. We went to a science center and traveled to see family we hadn’t seen in a long time. There were scrapes and blood. We planned a garden, painted pots, and planted flowers for our house. We had deep bedroom cleanings. We had diaper lessons and baby safety moments. We wrote in notebooks and had so many imaginary stories. We made no plans and lived with a freedom we hadn’t done in years.

Let’s fast forward to May. It is at this point I decided to get those old workbooks out. Fun time was over. Guess what I found out? The children learned during the “maternity break”. Fun time was still school! I look at the work they were doing before the baby was born and the work they were doing over the break and I can see huge improvements. So what did I do? I let them lead their own learning. I took a step back and let them grow in their own ways. I have learned a valuable lesson with the birth of my third baby. You do not need to use workbooks to learn. Kids learn without you or them knowing it.

Why don’t you try out some stealth schooling this summer? Go to the library and let your children pick a topic and find some books they can read about it. Give them a blank notebook and let them be creative. Give them a budget and go to a yard sale or have your own yard sale. Let them help with the groceries and let them make a mess in the kitchen. (Some of the best eaten dishes in our house were made with the kids helping.) Get paint and get messy. Dig in the garden. Get a hose and play water tag. Make popsicles. You will be surprised that kids will learn better when they don’t realize they are doing it!

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