The following is a guest post written by Jimmie of Jimmie’s Collage.
Mindfulness is living in the moment, enjoying the present as opposed to dwelling on the past or the future. It is when the mind is at rest rather than racing a mile a minute. Research has shown that mindfulness helps us deal with stress and generally makes us more content.
I personally am trying to be more mindful – to gratefully savor each moment that comes my way instead of always rushing off to the next task on my to-do list. This effort has powerfully affected my homeschooling life as well.
Planning Versus Doing
I’m one of those moms who love planning. I love researching and organizing materials. I love making printables to match our curriculum, scouring catalogs for the best resources, and reading forums to keep up with the latest homeschooling trends. In fact, I could spend most of my time planning our homeschool instead of actually implementing anything.
What good is my planning if I never do it or if I plan so much that there is not enough time in the day to possibly accomplish it all?
In The Hurried Child, David Elkind, a child psychologist, says that the most critical factor in “beginning to read is the child’s attachment to an adult who spends time reading to or with the child. The motivation for reading, which is a difficult task, is social.”
So if this is true, and I believe it is–not just for reading but for all kinds of learning tasks, it is more important that I put down the homeschool planning page and just spend time with my daughter, poring over great books or playing a game, or sketching a tree, or doing an experiment.
Elkind cites a study of gifted students that found the primary commonality was a home environment with “a love of learning in one or both parents, often accompanied by a physical exuberance and a persistent drive toward goals.”
Again, this sounds a lot like doing versus planning. So how should I spend the next hour?
Maybe I shouldn’t spend all 60 minutes scouring the Internet for the perfect activity for tomorrow’s lesson. Instead, I should spend a few minutes to find any activity and then the rest of the time in mindfully doing the activity with my child.
The Urgent Versus the Important
We’ve all heard the truth of the urgent versus the important. Important things get pushed to the bottom of the pile by the urgent things that demand our attention. This happens in homeschooling as well. Think of what you would list if I asked you, “What is most important in your homeschool?”
Are you spending most of your homeschool day on those very important things? Or does the urgent take control?
For me, the fine arts would be high on my list of important elements. But in reality, sketching or painting often get forgotten amid the rush to cram in the 3Rs and get dinner on the table before seven o’clock. If fine arts are important to me, why do they frequently get neglected?
Mainly because I’m not mindful enough. I let my racing mind take control and push me from task to task without taking time to stop and savor the moment through the things that are most precious to me.
I am comforted by David Elkind’s words:
“Parents who love learning will create a stimulating environment for children, which is far more beneficial to them than specific instruction. Parents who fill the house with books, paintings and music, who have interesting friends and discussion, who are curious and ask questions provide young children with all the intellectual stimulation they need.
In such an environment, formal instruction would be like ordering a hamburger at a four-star restaurant.”
So sometimes I need to throw out the curriculum with its urgency and mindfully do those things that are important to me.
Wishing for the Future
Another way homeschool moms are not mindful is in wishing away the childhood of their sons and daughters.
I hear moms of toddlers longing for when the children are out of diapers. Moms of preschoolers wish for the day when their children can read on their own. Those with elementary children hope for high schoolers so they can be enrolled in online schools.
There is a tendency to think that our children are a burden on our own dreams and desires, and we just want that burden eased. So we wish away their precious childhood years, not really appreciating each stage they go through at the time.
What is the remedy? Stop longing for the future and be thankful for right now.
So sit down, breathe, and enjoy your children. Say no to that voice in your mind that wants to check off lists and plan the next field trip.
Make eye contact, laugh, and savor your children for who they are in this moment.