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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Free Time

I’m so pleased with how much my daughter accomplished with her free time even during the middle school years. When she was thirteen, she taught herself to draw realistic animals with pencils and made and sold beaded jewelry. She designed HTML blog templates for other children. She put on history and drama camps for homeschoolers every summer beginning when she was nine. She even produced a ballet newsletter and sold subscriptions.

These experiences grew and matured my daughter in ways that could never have happened if we had placed finishing every last page of her curriculum above free time. I fully believe none of this would have occurred if I had made her labor over school until four o’clock every day. Sure, she could have finished every problem in her Saxon math book rather than leave the last lessons undone at the end of the year. She may have written more compositions for Shurley Grammar and taken every single test and diagrammed every single sentence until she was blue in the face. But, as the years progressed, my daughter eventually learned the material at the end of her Saxon book and perfected her writing skills as she aged. We didn’t have to labor to learn. She developed her talents and strengths and truly became a remarkable person without the stress and strain of intense school.

Just because classroom teachers pile on the work and make students begin algebra in fifth grade does not make it right and does not mean the children are learning more than our homeschooled children. They may learn it earlier, but in the absence of school stress, our children actually enjoy learning and retain the material much longer because of that joy. Homeschooled children are motivated to learn and desire to learn more because they see the benefits of learning, not because of fear and stress.

Without the stress and strain of long lessons and intense coursework, homeschooled children have the energy, ingenuity, and inspiration to pursue their interests and develop new hobbies. Free time is one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling. Don’t let your children waste their afternoons on television. Give them the tools they need to create and produce. They will astound themselves—and everyone else—with what they do!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I struggle with this right now. I have 6 children, 4 bio, 2 foster and the TV has become so much of our life that it saddens me. How do you get a child off of the TV and into life. I often feel my children have lost a love of reading, learning, etc. I need to recapture that for my children. My bio's are 11, 5, 2, and 2 mths. Add our 3 yr old and 15 yr old Foster daughters and it became too much to master for me in a years time. I want to be enriching, I want our home to be a place of learning. Please pray I can encourage them once again and that I can provide the items, energy and love for learning that will make them WANT to turn off the TV and engage in meaningful free times!