I’m so pleased with how much my thirteen year old daughter accomplishes with her free time. In the last few years, she has taught herself to draw realistic animals with pencils. She has made and sold beaded jewelry. She designs HTML blog templates for other children. She has put on history and drama camps for homeschoolers every summer since she was nine. She is now producing a ballet newsletter and selling subscriptions.
These experiences have grown her and matured her in ways that could never have been done if we 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 book – rather than leaving the last lessons undone at the end of the year. Sure, 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, she eventually learned the material at the end of her Saxon book, and is still perfecting her writing skills as she ages. We didn’t have to labor to learn. She is still learning and growing; she is developing her talents and strengths and truly becoming a remarkable person without the stress and strain of intense school.
Simply because classroom teachers pile on the work and make them begin algebra in fifth grade, does not make it right and does not mean the children are learning more than our 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. Our 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, our children have the energy, the 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 with what they do!