Homeschool Essentials

Whether unschooled or highly structured, religious or secular, all homeschools encounter the same challenges. All successful homeschools exhibit the same essential qualities. This weblog will help you understand and apply those qualities, minimize frustration, and enjoy more success sooner.

Monday, January 17, 2005

All Learning is Toilet Training

If we learn nothing else from this exploration of the adventure of toilet training, let's at least understand this. A child's readiness is independent of the parents' needs.

Just because you're tired of changing diapers (who isn't?), just because you're embarrassed by someone's assessment of your parenting deficiencies (when won't that be?), and especially because you've decided you want it to happen NOW! -- doesn't mean your child is ready.

And please understand, this holds true (with the exception of diaper fatigue) for every other learning task your child will face. You may be ready for your child to read, to do calculus, or play the oboe-- so what? Never forget, as soon as these become battles, they become battles you cannot win. Even when you appear to prevail, it will cost you in the end.

Readiness is everything. We can't really accelerate it, we can only hold it back. Indeed, often our efforts to accelerate readiness result in significant tardiness in its development.

Like the mother trying to force her child's readiness for toilet training, but unwilling to cross his will on diet, whenever we find ourselves fighting over readiness, it's really a substitute for another battle we should be fighting, and which we can win.

We need to concentrate on our children's mental, emotional, and physical health, especially character, because character transfers to every other task. If we keep children healthy, they will learn.

One mother who had been homeschooling for a number of years, and whose children were both teenagers, came to me for supervision because her previous teacher moved away. Somewhat surprised by my approach, she tried it anyway, because she had grown so tired of always being the engine of achievement.

After two months, she and her children were so excited they would never go back. By letting go of the attempt to push, she had also let go of the responsibility, putting it on the chlidren, where it belonged. They assumed the responsibility gladly. Why? Because they realized that authority and responsibility go together. The battle had been over authority. So when Mom let go of the authority over their learning, they grabbed it eagerly, and began taking responsibility with it.

It was a relief to all concerned.

The battle over authority is the battle over toilet training, as well. Who's going to have authority over little one's sphincter muscles? Put that way, it's a no brainer. The child will, of course, no matter what we might wish. So don't fight that battle. Let the child have authority, and you'll be surprised at how quickly responsibility will make itself felt.

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