Protecting Childhood

Yesterday we caught up with a few other homeschooling families and enjoyed a blissful day outside in nature. While we chatted and enjoyed each other’s company the children played. They explored the creek bed, had adventures amongst the rocks, ran up and down the grassy hills, took nets and buckets down to the little bit of water in the creek to see what they could catch, made some art, went on scavenger hunts, played hide-and-seek, drew maps of their surroundings and followed them to the ‘treasure’. All of this child-initiated, with no help from us. For 4.5 hours they played like this without interruption. We observed the natural rhythm of their play… running and jumping and climbing, then sitting down to do some drawing for a while before heading out again to do something more active. They were so engaged and there was so much learning happening, without any help from us. There was no need for us to interfere. They didn’t need any suggestions. They entertained themselves for 4.5 hours like this and were still sad when we had to go home, there was more to do! All I could think was that this is the childhood I had in mind for them. This is enough.

Protecting Childhood | Happiness is here

So often society tells us this is not enough. It starts not long after you have your baby. You have to have all the latest toys to enhance your child’s development. A search for ‘baby and toddler classes’ in my area tells me there is baby sensory classes, music classes, gymboree, baby sign language, art classes, sport classes, school skills classes, swimming, dancing, and probably more. I remember being told by a well meaning friend when my daughter was 2 that I should put her in daycare so she can socialize. This all sounds like craziness to me! Children have survived for so long without all this. Survived is not the right word….thrived. When do children have time to play? To discover what interests them? To come up with their own ideas? To use their imaginations? To relax?

Children don’t need constant entertainment and stimulation. They need freedom and space to come up with their own ideas. I often hear people say that they can’t provide enough stimulation for their children at home, they need classes/school/childcare, etc. Academics is starting earlier and earlier and parents feel like their children will be left behind. I want to say… They won’t. You are enough. You don’t need anything. Watch your children in their free time and it will be obvious, they are learning all the time. Please don’t doubt yourself. You are doing a great job.

Now that I have a child that is school age I’ve also heard the comment that children need more structure. They need to learn that they have work to do whether they want to or not. Life is not all fun and games! After all, that’s what it’s going to be like in the workforce. Really? I should be preparing my 5 year old for the workforce now? I don’t think so, there is plenty of time for that. I am not focused on raising a person who is a ‘good worker’. I am nurturing a child and valuing that she is someone today; respecting how she is living her life right now. She will be an adult for a long time, she will only be a child for a very short time in her life.

“I will spend eternity knowing my children as adults. But tonight, right here, right now, and for the next precious years, I have the rare privilege of knowing them as a child. What a gift to experience the children in our lives as children! For a brief moment during the journey of mortality, we get to watch them laugh, learn, experience, grow.”                                                                                               ~Author Unknown

 

To my girls,

I will let you be children. For as long as I can, I will let you be children. I will protect your childhood fiercely. I won’t pressure you to do things you are not ready for. I will let you play, for hours I will let you play. I will let you discover yourselves. I will let you really know yourselves before you are pushed out into the big wide world on your own. I will let you imagine, and dream, and laugh, whenever you want to. I won’t ever wish this magical time away. All too soon you will be all grown up. You will worry about grown up things. But not now. For now you are a child, your job is to play, and that is important to me.

I will protect your childhood.

Protecting Childhood | Happiness is here

58 thoughts on “Protecting Childhood

  1. Inspiring! If only I had this confidence 🙂 you are an incredible mother and teacher. Your girls are truly blessed!

  2. This is a beautiful post! My kids go to very good local public schools, but I am always torn between keeping them in (since they enjoy it and have incredible teachers) and giving them more free time.

  3. This made me weepy — it’s such a great article. I’m also in the “let them be kids” camp, and have been enamored by our summer that’s been full of so much free play.

  4. Yes, yes, yes. Well said. This is how I feel. I am going to print this for future reference (to read on those hard days to remind me why I am homeschooling! 😉 )

  5. Yes! I love this and will share with everyone I know! I always tell people, I didn’t have any of the classes such as preschool, etc. due to financial constraints growing up. Instead we just played outside, explored, caught toads 🙂 I never had a problem being a part of the workforce either due to little structure 🙂 I hope my son can have the same joy in the simplicity of childhood as I had. Thank you so much for this reminder.

  6. It’s always refreshing to see such an honest and simple message, that is so vastly important to best practices of parenting. It’s inspiring to read your words but also just amazing that so many parents don’t ‘get’ this.

    I just joined a local dad’s group run by a stay at home father. He is going to be posting my blog on his web site and fb page. I was wondering if I might re-post yours there, as well as some other places of shared interest? Thank you, this post should be shared in full!

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  8. I needed this. I really really needed to hear this and to have, what I’ve been telling people, in writing by someone who writes as eloquently as yourself. It’s like chicken soup for the sahm,homeschool/unschool/afterschool mom’s soul:)

  9. This is awesome!! Children learn well by exploring!! I think it really helps for when they do end up in a public or private classroom. I was home-schooled!! Graduated and am in college right now!! I am thinking of homeschooling my children when they come around (adopted or biological).

  10. Hi, I only came across your blog today (a friend had posted a link to this article). What a wonderful find! I am thoroughly engrossed in reading your posts. I am home educating too (in Scotland), and love seeing how other families go about it, too 🙂
    Fab blog, great photos and a lovely way with words
    x

  11. i love this. i try hard to implement the rie values in my own parenting. yes it is truly challenging to refrain from swooping up the children when you see a potential hazard, however when you step back just a little and use caution and allow children space to gain their independence, it is truly rewarding for you and of course empowering for your child. way to go – you and your mom friends for having this bond and allowing children to explore together. <3

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  13. In this 21st century where parents are quite eager to train their little ones for the future rat race, we have been indirectly forcing to go through things which I guess are not always necessary for them yet, compelling them to be ahead of their peers. Frankly, I am a bit of such a parent, signing up my 8 month old for swimming and right brain training program. Thanks for writing this post, it helps me to recenter and reassess my underlying objectives again, and I hope that I will not take away her childhood in the course of it.

  14. Beautiful post.
    As a mom of 6, ranging in age from 28 to 12, and as a grandma of 2 little ones, I can tell you that my fondest and most precious memories are of my children playing together in the backyard, in a park, in a forest, or a natural setting. They would play for hours, always finding something new to do, something to explore, something to pretend to do and be, or just run, walk, climb or lay down and just be. Those wonderful years fly past them and us parents so quickly, take every moment you can while they are young to set them loose and watch them learn and enjoy and absorb all that nature has to offer.

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  17. Thank you for this. My girls disappear for hours in their room playing and I always feel bad or guilty. Thank you for this perspective!

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  19. I love the idea of valuing that my kids are people now. I can’t imagine packing the toddlers off to a preschool…we like reading, playing outside and eat snacks 🙂 Great perspective! I’m happy to have stumbled upon your site.

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