Friday, July 14, 2006

Are They Learning Yet?

When you travel with children on a long trip the inevitable question arises, "Are we there yet?" It's so hard to explain to children anxious to arrive that this is a long journey and getting there takes time and patience. This is equally hard to accept when each mile looking forward looks just the same as the one behind. We're getting there, they just can't see it yet.

As homeschoolers, it is tempting to ask a similar question, "Are they learning yet?" It's often hard to accept that this is a long journey and learning takes time and patience. Lot's of it. We're getting there, we just can't always see it every day. On a highway children at least have road signs and mile markers to know they're moving forward. Searching around us, we hunt for something similar -- some sort of marker to show that we're getting there too. Just give me a stack of workbooks with all the pages filled in or show Grandma how you can write your name, and I'll know they got it. We're constantly looking for any affirmation that we can do this thing called "homeschooling" and that they are learning something. Mile markers to prove that we are moving forward and not backward.

I've mellowed a lot over the years. I now see that the demonstration of learning comes as they begin to use the information that they are taught. Not to make me look good, but because it is actually useful to them. They need to write their name to get a library card, not to impress Grandma or validate me. When our children have a purpose, they will learn without a whole lot of prodding from us. We just need to provide a constant source of fuel to keep their engines going. (I'll concede that some may need a stick of dynamite!) But once the engines are burning they're off and running.

So when the inevitable anxious moments arise and you wonder, "Are they learning yet?" Just give yourself the same answer you give your children on a long trip, "Honey, just sit back and enjoy the ride. We'll be there before you know it."

And if that answer doesn't calm your anxious nerves any more than your children, try this;

Ninety-nine unread books on the shelf.
Ninety-nine unread books.
Take one down, pass it around,
Ninety-eight unread books on the shelf.

Ninety-eight unread books on the shelf, ninety-eight unread books....

Surely by the time you get to one book left on the shelf, they're bound to have learned something!

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