This idea stirs so many emotions and thoughts, some dating back to my own learning experiences from when I was a child myself. I am blown away with how much this makes sense.
My daughter is approaching her 5th birthday in 3 months, and I had a serious decision to make about her future education. Big Daddy from Free Your Kids suggested I should look into works of John Holt. The name sounded familiar, I definitely saw his quotes floating around, but thought he was just another peaceful parent. Turns out he studied the way children learn, and wrote about it, too. I am learning so much, and agreeing with just as much, as well.
I knew in my heart that I shouldn’t force my kids to learn to count and learn their ABCs when they were too little to even understand what they were learning and why. I heard parents around boasting about how their 3 y/o could write her name already, or count to 100. Ok, I don’t doubt some kids are capable of this, but the majority still just memorizes what adults expect them to know by a certain age, and expects to be praised when they deliver. Because, well, it is just something society expects kids to know by the time they are 3 or 4. And if they don’t, then you are a lazy parent. I was fine with being a lazy parent, I tried teaching my daughter some letters and numbers, but I wasn’t trying too hard since she wasn’t interested too much. And we left it at that. I knew I was supposed to start doing this whole ABC thing, but somehow we kept postponing and spending more time doing other things she enjoyed more.
Until one day when I found some papers around her room with letters written all over them. I thought someone wrote them for her, either my husband or my stepdaughter. And when I asked her about it, she shocked me by saying that SHE wrote them herself. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t get how a 4 y/o child who is spending most of her time with me, doesn’t go to preschool, etc. would learn to write without anyone showing her. After all, isn’t this how you are supposed to learn? Turns out she did teach herself to write some letters by being exposed to them in various ways in her daily activities. I started paying more attention to that, got her some fun activity books to play with, but I don’t interfere much, because she just doesn’t seem interested when I try to teach her, and gets easily bored. I guess I am a lazy parent, but I choose to let my child be guided by her own curiosity, and learn on her own terms. I figured this way means she is actually learning those things, and not just trying to please me by memorizing them like a machine.
I know what happened to everything I learned when I was expected to by others, especially things I didn’t care much about, or didn’t understand much. I conveniently forgot everything soon afterwards. Once I got those grades, or passed those tests, everything just got lost somewhere in my short-memory department. Such a waste of time and energy, if you think about it. 😦
Photo: Patrick (Flickr)