If you were to ask me to name the most important thing that I’m learning in these early days of homeschooling, I would probably say that it’s the value of moving slowly.
Slow does not come easily to me. My to-do-lists are enormous and my brain fires along with a fury. I love to work hard, check off boxes, and feel accomplished.
On top of that, my oldest has entered that season where everyone starts “doing” things. Gone are the days where he and all of his friends had to be home for afternoon naps. And it’s so tempting to feel pressured into signing up for every lesson and extra-curricular. Some of it’s guilt and pressure to keep up with everyone else. Some of it’s love, wanting to make sure he has a full, rich life.
But little people (and many big people *raises hand*) don’t thrive when they’re pushed and hurried and cooped up. They need time just to be little, to experience and see and touch and ponder. They need the chance to listen to stories and look at beautiful pictures and dig in a garden. They need the chance to rest in the quiet, to sip steaming mugs of hot chocolate while reading books, to memorize poems and Scripture and hymns, to make messes and create. These things take a slow pace, a life that isn’t scheduled to the max. It requires saying “no” to a lot of good things so I can say “yes” to even better things.
When I loosen my grip and slow my speed, I see their little selves bloom. When they’re not being dragged from one “educational opportunity” or church activity to the next, hurried through lessons they’ve had no chance to really soak in, or snapped at to find their shoes and for the love of Pete just get in the dang car (which I admit happens every. single. Sunday morning), they have the chance to engage their souls, and not just their brains, during these precious years.
That is what we want for them. We want them to grow up having more than just a head full of information. We want them to leave home with minds awake to Truth, hearts motivated by compassion, and souls deeply in love with beauty and goodness. We want them to love people, love Truth, and love the land.
All of those things take time: time for thinking, time for working with their hands, time for talking to older people, time for taking care of smaller people. My goal is not to make my home school as much like a traditional school as possible. My goal is to make our home school as full of real life as possible – full of rewarding tasks, a hodge-podge of ages, healthily balancing work and rest, and as packed with soul-nourishing ideas and images as possible.
Real learning cannot be rushed, crammed, or usually even checked off. And it certainly doesn’t happen in a hurry.
Living slowly is akin to living gently. It’s how we soak up beauty and truth. When I slow my days, I slow my spirit. That’s when I find I’m able to notice people, to see them not as interruptions to my plan but as the beautiful, sacred beings they are. When I slow down, I have time to see needs and nurture others. And when my children are allowed to slow down, they have the chance to soak up the world around them.
So these days, I’m looking for every chance to say “yes” to slow. That doesn’t mean our days aren’t full. They are richly, delightfully, and sometimes overwhelmingly full. But as soon as the tension and anxiety and hurry rear their ugly heads, I’m learning (fingers crossed!) to stop and make space in our days.I’m learning to say “no” to comparison and anxiety and having to finish every page of every workbook and rushing and overstimulating, so that I can say “yes” when my baby girl needs her story read again, “yes” when my middle guy wants to help crack eggs or clean out the chicken coop, “yes” when my big guy asks to tromp to the creek. So we can say “yes” to taking a meal to friends, to dusting Grandma’s baseboards, to checking the cows with Papa.And boy howdy is it worth it.