Note: This is the digest version of a longer essay.
In a continuing discussion about children and learning, I’d like to share my family’s view and philosophy on this matter. It mainly deals with what we force our children to learn, and what we don’t.
First of all, we recognize that forcing is undesirable, and is to be avoided if possible.
What My Children Must Know
That said, there are some things that are so important that they must know.
- Safety/Health. Need I say more?
- Social manners/etiquette. How to be an undisruptive, respectful citizens of the society.
In the toddler stage, we spend a lot of time shaping the kids’ behaviors. They really boil down to these two fundamentals. We do believe that we need to instill good habits while they are young — as opposed to being lenient when they’re young and shaping up later. So we’re very involved.
What We Don’t Force Our Children to Learn
On the other side, we don’t force a lot of stuff, less so than conventionally expected. While we do believe that reading and basic math are fundamental to all learning, we don’t place a mandate on when they must learn them. Similarly, we don’t force our children to grow in some other ways, such as stop breastfeeding, potty training, and eating of healthy food. We do create environments where these things are likely to happen, and we do encourage, but we stop when they say no.
We believe that children are naturally learning and growing beings, and we allow for them develop desires for these growths naturally.
We plan to at least start out by homeschooling (or more precisely, unschooling) so they will not be exposed to arbitrary standards and pressure to do or learn certain things by certain deadlines. Oh yes, we do recognize that those type of things exist in real life — but we believe that by not forcing when they are little, they’ll more quickly develop resources to control their own behaviors and meet mandates if they are presented with one.
Learning is supposed to be fun! We don’t want to rob it from them.
That said, as with “no forcing” policy, we’ll certainly support their decision to go to a more conventional school, if they choose to.
What Do You Think?
Education and parenting stir a lot of emotions in us, as it should. We should all be doing what we believe in! Please share your thoughts, agreements, disagreements, or questions. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.