Tuesday, 20 September 2016

If something is easy then surely it isn't working? Is it?

There is a common misconception in life that something has to be HARD if it's going to work.

I have a few problems with that concept.

Even though we may feel a sense of satisfaction and assure ourselves of future success if we make BIG CHANGES, often we're only setting ourselves up for failure.  

Many people know the feeling of "Right!  Let's do this!" at the start of a project/diet/new schedule/set of rules for chores etc.   But when one encounters distraction, unco-operative behaviour from those close to us, illness, discouraging remarks, boredom etc etc etc it can be VERY hard sticking to the project/diet/new schedule or whatever the big change had been.

Sometimes that's ok -  better to let go of project if it's not working than to flog a dead horse.  Chalk the whole thing up to experience and carry on as you were before.

However, after this has happened a few times in a person's life it might be best to see if there is a pattern to it.  Does BIG CHANGE often equal BURNOUT?


If the answer is yes, then perhaps it might be best to go gently with any new project or change.

Some years back a physio gave me four sets of exercises for my back.  He said "Just do as much as you can, when you can, see how you go."  His relaxed attitude was just want I needed at that season of my life.  I did really well actually - a year or so later I was still doing those exercises.

The reason I'm writing this is two-fold.

1.   Something doesn't have to be hard to be worth it.  

2.  "Little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept" works.

I'm sad when I see complex "homeschool planners" filled with minute detail of what page someone was reading and what mistakes were made and need to be corrected, and who is completing which book, and how many pages they need to get done this term ...    I saw a picture of one such planner recently - an open double-page for one day's work - full of ticks placed by Mommy-Teacher and the caption for the picture was "Feels so Good!".    I don't disagree.  I'm sure it felt really good to achieve that much work - was the child co-operative and engaged?  I don't know.  Did the child retain everything that was covered?  I don't know.  But I do know that for MY family this would never work.

I could feel SO satisfied and actually enjoy setting up a system like that.   I like planners, I like books, I like writing things and filling in forms.   But the first day of actually getting the children engaged in the work, and carrying through ... it wouldn't work.    

The reason I am sad about this is because it's sending a message to other, perhaps newer, home educators - or those who feel they need to do more because what they're doing doesn't appear to be working.

 But listen:  


Yes I was shouting.  Shouting joyfully.  It's not a secret!!!  It's Good News!!!!!

If planners, timetables, schedules etc work for your family then - great!    If they don't work then - great!

This is one reason I created the Adventures in Natural Learning Journal - for the families, like ours, who needed something different.  It's not a planner, it's not a busybook, it's not a nightmare to complete, it's not limiting, it's not SCHOOLISH.    It's a way to record a child's year easily and gently - for the benefit of the child to be able to look back fondly on.  If the child doesn't want to complete the Journal then the Mummy can do it - no problem.  It shouldn't cause a chasm between mummy and child/children.

And the other part of my two-fold thought here was - little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept.

Take the "Memorization" part of the monthly page-spread.  You might think "Hmm... only room for one small poem or quote.  That's not worth doing".*

But I would say to you that one poem, verse, quote, equation learned per month equals twelve learned per year.  

And more than the NUMBER of poems etc learned is the fact that a child's "memorization" part of their brain is switched on, and if they find that fun they will take off on their own.  

Several of my children have set themselves the task of learning pi to about the 40th digit - just because it's fun.  One of my older boys memorized an entire rap song in Japanese because it sounded like fun.  He also recited something in Olde English to me the other day that knocked my socks off - and this had small beginnings - learning Robert Louis Stevenson poems, AA Milne, hymns, fingerplays, songs, quotes ... little by little, line upon line.

Start small.  Get yourself an Adventures In Natural Learning Journal.  Learn about one person a month, one place in the world, one thing to memorize, play a few games (as found in the Handbook), stick in a photo of your family from that month ...  

Life and learning don't need to be HARD to be EFFECTIVE.  Life can be hard enough on it's own without turning LEARNING into a chore and a drudgery.   Left on their own children LOVE learning.  Learning and breathing come naturally.  Who made it a chore and in some cases a PUNISHMENT?


*If your child is keen for more memorization then each piece can be written/typed onto a bit of paper the same size as the "Memory work" box.  Then run a bit of glue along the left-hand side of the bit of paper and press onto the "Memorization" box - creating a little mini-book on the page.

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