I have been thinking about this little phrase, shared a few years ago as a quick answer to a question by Christy. In this guest post over at Afterthoughts, she writes about it as it relates to scheduling in the homeschool, which is what I was referring to. But I wanted to address it as it relates to another part of homeschooling – outside activities. I think it applies here as well.
Three words that I read over and over again in Charlotte Mason’s writings are “long,” “slow,” and “time.” If you are running around from one activity to the next, you are cheating your students out of so much of the natural benefits of homeschooling and in particular, the CM method. There was a phrase that used to be popular in homeschool circles:
"If this is homeschooling, why am I always in the minivan?"
A friend recently said that she eliminated 40 hours – 40 hours! - from her outside activities. All good activities, mind you, and spread over a few children, but cutting those out has made all the difference in the peace in her home.
In my own home I have seen the benefits of this cutting back, too. As a family, we are careful about things we say “yes” to, thinking and praying before agreeing to join this or that club, playing a sport, or even volunteering the for myriad of activities church offers.
It’s important that the 15-year-old son has 1-4 hours every day to think and tinker with robots. He needs this time to cultivate ideas and creativity that might bring about solutions. His team recently won at the state robotics championship, bringing home a passel of awards.
I like what Ken Robinson says in Out of Our Minds:
“Creativity is Imagination Applied.”
It’s important for the 17-year-old daughter to spend a few hours every day messing with her photography and editing skills. It’s one of the things she loves to do and giving her that time respects her as a person. I have gained a huge respect for those who choose this art form as I had no idea the time it takes to produce amazing pictures.
For some reason, we tend to think that as our students get older, they should spend less time alone, thinking, tinkering, experimenting, and daydreaming and more time doing “important” things. But in a way, I think more of it is needed.
My farmer friend once told me that one day she looked out her kitchen window and saw a sight that she will never forget and brought tears to her eyes. Out in her yard was her young daughter on her horse, lying on her back and just staring at the sky. She knew that she was giving her daughter a precious gift.
It's important that the 11-year-old gets lots of time to paint and draw. Or the ...you get the picture.
Sometimes we need to resist the urge to nag our children to “get up and do something.” Sometimes giving them the time and space to just “be” is the best way to respect their personhood. (Masterly inactivity, anyone?)And sometimes it takes the adult in their life to rearrange things so this can happen.