We are jumping back into our series on the eight facets of a healthy family culture. These facets, along with the inner development of the parent and a spiritual/religious life, really form a backbone and foundation for parenting and for homeschooling. We have peeked at rhythm and sleep/rest and today we are ready to peek at the polar opposite of sleep/rest in work and play.
Work! — Many of you who have been reading this blog for quite some time know how frequently I have discussed the need for children to work around the home. Ideally, this starts with the child of the ages birth through age seven imitating YOUR work in the home and weaving in and out of that work to graduating to assigned responsibility within the home. I have poised the question on this blog in the past about “if your child wasn’t home, what work would not be getting done?”
In one of the rhythm posts in this series we also talked about how inevitably homeschool burnout can be tied to feeling overwhelmed by our homes! Mother is not there to be a servant to all on top of homeschooling; the whole family lives in the house and therefore the whole family helps nurture the home. Working as a family in the home is every as bit as valuable as team sports in learning how to work together as a team.
Play — Play is the foundation and bedrock of the Early Years, ages birth through seven, and is also the heart of middle childhood in the grades, ages seven to fourteen.
The lack of self –directed play amongst children today is startling, as is the inability of many children to initiate and play simple games in a group of children. I feel this phenomenon, in part, can be traced to the advent of having to arrange “play-dates” for children to play, along with the creeping of classes and lessons for the ever-younger ages. I think too, with the lack of very large families and extended family around, there is less of an opportunity at home and in the neighborhood to even learn how to play by watching older siblings or cousins at play.
It is daunting, isn’t it? Yet, the primary task of us as parents and educators for our children is to get our children in their bodies and play is the number one way to do this! Please do get your children outside in nature, let them be bored and discover genius in their boredom, let them dream and discover waiting. I love this quote from Kim John Payne’s book, “Simplicity Parenting”:
“Here is the world!” we seem to offer as we drive our children from one activity to the next. Rather than creating excitement, overloading a child’s schedule creates high expectations. “What’s the next great thing” they ask in return. If we pull back on scheduling, a child can see something coming up; they can literally “look forward” to it. This allows anticipating to build. And anticipation is more than a simple pleasure. It is identity building.”
“Simplicity Parenting” has a number of good suggestions for dealing with outside activities, including using consecutive quiet and “ordinary” days to balance out busy days, creating “Sabbath” moments by day and by week, scheduling lighter and heavier seasons throughout the year. I think any step a family can take toward reducing outside pressure for children under the age of 12 is really positive, especially for younger children who are in school and who are gone from their homes all day long. A balance to outside activities so free play, dreaming, waiting and anticipation can begin is so vital.
Here are a few oldie but goodie posts on the specifics of fostering play for the Early Years group:
At this time of year, many homeschooling families are starting to think about and plan for the next school year already….let your evaluation of outside activities and the amount of chores, work, responsibility and time to play be part of this evaluation. I don’t know about you, but I am feeling inspired to make some changes!
Much love and many blessings,