In the past two weeks, I’ve been given some great opportunities to guest post on different sites.
Here’s a beginning preview of each of the posts. Click the link at the end of the preview to read the rest of the post.
Mothers who work outside the home are happier and healthier than stay-at-home moms.
At least that’s what the Journal of Family Psychology reported in a recent study last December.
When I first read the results, I admit, I was a bit offended. I’m a stay-at-home mom. I work hard at my job, love staying home with my kids and depression is the furthest thing from my mind.
I almost put the article down, until my eyes skimmed down to the bottom of the page. The article said that there was actually a third option that combined the best of both worlds: part-time working moms.
The findings showed that moms who worked at least part time felt proud of the work that they did outside the home, yet they weren’t consumed by their work; these moms said they had plenty of time to also spend with their children and form strong family bonds.
The more I thought about this idea of part-time work being the ideal, I began to realize that it’s not the fact of having a job or getting paid that’s giving these part-time working moms fulfillment – it’s having something that’s separate from the joys and challenges of motherhood – it’s having a way to pursue their interests and talents and be recognized for that.
While I was scrolling through my home page on Facebook a few months ago, I came across a picture that was posted by someone close to our family. The picture showed a piece of paper with rows of square boxes. In each box, a little girl-who is five years old- had written the number 3 over and over again in the first row of squares. Then she had written the number 4 over and over again in the row of squares underneath the first row. And so on, and so on.
She’s in Kindergarten and this was her homework. She was doing something a teacher told her she had to complete.
Today, I played a game of Mancala with my two five (almost six!) year olds. It’s a wonderful game; it originated in Africa and some people think it’s the oldest game in history. We played it for over an hour and a half and learned strategy, counting, and keeping score.
My kids begged me to keep playing the game. In fact whenever we play games with numbers, I usually have to find a way to distract them or else they’ll want to play for hours and hours.
Now, if you have a child who wants to practice writing numbers for fun, go for it!
But the important thing to keep in mind is that schools have it all backwards. While they may bring in some games and manipulatives, schools usually require small children, often starting in Kindergarten, to learn math in very abstract ways.
How did you grow up learning? Did you spend a lot of time with textbooks? Did you have to complete endless workbooks? How many projects or assignments came out of your own curiosity and how many were assigned because a teacher thought you needed to learn it because you were now 12 years old?
I used to be a public and private school teacher. I started out assigning questions to answer, papers to write and projects to complete the same way I had to do when I was younger. It really was all I knew at that point.
Then gradually I grew to hate the horrid monotony of that learning – even though I wasn’t doing the actual assignments myself! So, I started bringing in more games and asking the kids what projects they wanted to do. Little by little I came to realize that when the kids brought in their own questions and their own ideas, my days were calmer and I really enjoyed what I was doing.
When I had my own kids, I knew I wanted their days to be centered on exploring their own questions and learning more about the world in interesting ways. I didn’t want the pre-planned lessons, the textbooks or anything that didn’t make learning come alive or wasn’t relevant to their everyday life.
It’s a scary thing to throw out strict lesson plans, to not follow a pre-planned curriculum, and to follow your child’s lead. But when you see it working, when you see the joy and connections that come from living life to the fullest, from immersing your family in your community and the wider world as much as possible, it’s such an amazing, wonderfully natural way to live and learn.
You might be saying, “Well, that sounds nice, but I need something a little more practical. Can you give me some specific things I can do to make that work?”
Sure! Here’s five ways that you can create an interest-led learning environment in your house.
Photo Credit: Stephen Cummings