Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane
If you asked my husband what the biggest difference is between us, he’d respond with one word: Pace.
I really try not to roll my eyes when we’re faced with a decision and he says, yet again, “Let’s just slow down and take our time. Let’s wait a bit before deciding.”
I want the decision made yesterday.
Oddly enough, he is the triathlete. He races. And he’s super fast! Yet his temperament is very laid back, and he always prefers the slower pace.
I think and move quickly; he prefers to take his time. He even drives slower than me. We are such a good balance for each other!
It’s interesting how this plays out with homeschooling. Every strength can also be a liability, so we’re wise to take a sober evaluation of how our quirks might adversely affect our little scholars.
For me, I have to remember: I’m prone to speed.
And so, it takes intention to practice the art of slow.
I learned this all afresh recently when I had a baby.
I was convinced he was coming early, and had so many summer plans in which I wanted to participate. I worked tirelessly preparing meals ahead, stocking our freezer, making plans. The day before 39 weeks I was all set. Ready, go!
No go. We waited. And waited. And waited.
Although it was so hard, I felt a strong conviction not to induce or take measures into my own hands (though I understand many have to, for medical reasons). EIGHTEEN days later he arrived.
Ten days late and right on time.
Because during those days I reflected and considered all over again, the art of slow. And how beautiful and sacred slow-growth is, if we will allow it to happen. Let’s consider three aspects of this:
Slowing down shows honor.
There is nothing so rude as rushing someone. When we finish their sentences, or assume we know what they mean. When we cut them off or push them before they are ready.
I cringe when I consider how hard I pushed my firstborn when he was so little! We both cried. How often does our frustration with our children’s progress lead to a subtle dishonoring of their little selves. They can sense our disappointment and frustration, and inevitably feel discouraged.
Unless a problem is a poor attitude, defiance, or obvious lack of effort, we are wise to never dishonor them through assuming their pace should match our own.
For us, the biggest reason we homeschool is that we value our relationship with our children and want as much time as possible to nurture their hearts, shape their character, and cultivate our relationship with them.
You cannot rush relationship. You can push to produce performance, but you cannot force relationships to grow. They grow in the slow garden of showing honor.
Slowing down produces better work.
This past year, we slowed waaaaaay down in our schooling, and gave the kids more freedom to pace themselves. Their test results ended up being outstanding. But even more importantly, I feel like we actually learned more.
When we got to the Civil War period of US History, we just lost ourselves in stories. I was reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin personally and found myself hungry to learn more. We had planned to progress all the way to present day, but instead we spent three months just on the Civil War Era, and decided to save the rest until next year. I’m so grateful we had the freedom to actually learn and not just rush through a curriculum.
In every area of life, slower work usually means better work. Hurry equals sloppy, and a fast pace is far more likely to bring mistakes.
The best food is slow food. Bread must slowly rise (twice, for best results!), cultured foods ferment, soaked grains and beans are so much easier to digest. How many times have I tried to rush a recipe, or make it easier or simpler, only to be disappointed with the results. It’s worth taking the time to do it right.
Slowing down reduces stress and cultivates health.
One of my favorite parenting books, Simplicity Parenting, explains that often a “dysfunction” is simply a quirk under stress.
Our children’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, when compounded under stress, quickly become dysfunction.
Since our son has Asperger’s, we’ve learned the value of slowing down, maintaining routine, and carefully balancing our Calm and Active days, so we’re not overloading our schedule. This has helped him thrive, and our whole family cultivate healthy, happy habits.
I’ve also seen how much sweeter it is to see our children’s growth come at its own pace, its own sweet time.
My daughter has been painfully shy for most of her life. I was exactly the same as a child, so I empathize. This summer, she announced that she wants to do theater next year. Yes! We have a great children’s theater in town, and I think it’s perfect timing.
I’m so grateful I didn’t rush her out of shyness, or force her to “overcome” her timidity before she was ready. Slowly, over the years, she’s gained confidence, not by being forced or rushed, but by being nurtured and encouraged.
It may be that you, like my husband, naturally gravitate to the slow life. But just in case you don’t, perhaps this is the perfect time to learn the art of slow. Your homeschool will be so much sweeter as a result.
Your turn: How do you cultivate slowness in your own life and homeschool?