Farmers have to plan for the long haul. They plant in the spring, water and tend their crops all summer in hopes that, come fall, there will be a bountiful harvest. Can you imagine a farmer foolish enough to think he could go out and plant in October and harvest in November?
The law of the farm applies to many areas of life. Parenting is just one example. As parents we repeat ourselves, endlessly. Teaching our children to say thank you, to wait their turn, to ‘use their words’ and to share takes persistence and fortitude.
Parenting isn’t for the impatient. You can’t hurry up the maturing process, and you can’t ignore your kids for years and cram parenting right before they hit 18.
The same holds true for teaching. The law of the farm can provide homeschool parents with a balanced perspective that can serve as a guiding principle.
My boys, four of them, entered college ready to take on the next phase of learning. Their preparation happened gradually over the 18 years leading up to their departure.
I’d like to say they were college successes because of my amazing teaching skills, or because we spent the money to buy the perfect curriculum, or even better because they are geniuses. None of that is true. They found success due to daily habits and steady plodding over weeks, months, and years.
Every day we read, wrote, and did math. Every week we delved into history, investigated science, and explored the library.
When something sparked their interest, we pursued it.
These basic habits applied over time produced amazing results. Boring maybe, but true.
Doing the basics day in day out produces results, and it safeguards homeschool families from the two most common pitfalls.
The first pitfall is worry.
The worried, stressed out parent consistently frets that they are not doing enough or their child isn’t progressing quickly enough. They try to fit in more and more until their child is overwhelmed. If this is you, you need to realize that you can’t cram learning or growing up, at least not without doing damage.
Before a plant can grow it needs a strong root system. Disturbing roots during this critical stage can stunt the plants natural development. The same is true of your child. They need time and care to develop and mature, sending down deep and extensive roots to support their future growth. What they don’t need is to be pushed and hurried from one phase to the next as if education (or childhood) was a race.
Doing too much, too soon will cause stressed, worried children. Stressed, worried children struggle to learn. Children who struggle (or who pick up from parents or teachers that they are not advancing quickly enough) quickly internalize the message that they are not enough. Once that message is part of their internal dialog, dislodging it is a long uphill battle.
Do no harm. Trust your child to sprout, grow and blossom when they are ready. Slow steady progress is the goal. You can’t speed up the process without your child paying the price.
The second pitfall is procrastination.
18 years to get my child ready for college, no sweat. 1 year to finish that math curriculum, not a problem. There is always tomorrow, always more time….until there isn’t.
I’ve known many homeschool moms who slack off day in and day out, then they have a burst of enthusiasm and decide this week is going to be different. In a rush they push their kids to “catch up” on all that they haven’t done, normally with some yelling and out of control behavior thrown in.
How unfair is that? How confused is that child when the rules are suddenly changed, and they are in trouble because their mom hasn’t given them math for 3 weeks. How is their brain supposed to adequately process and assimilate a months worth of work in a single go? It’s not.
And once again, it’s the child who feels like the failure.
The solution to both of these extremes is the law of the farm. Everyday we read, write, compute so that, at the end, we have a rich harvest. When we are stressed, we look to the farm and realize this day is just one in this season and we plod on. When we are lazy, we look to the farm and realize this day is an important piece of the whole and we plod on.
We reap what we sow. There is no short cut, or magic hack that will circumvent this truth.