What is the importance of a solid foundation in learning? And what does that foundation look like?
In our home, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Between homemade bread, regular meals, and special treats, the oven is on almost every day, especially during the winter months. In all this baking and cooking, one thing stands true: if you pull things out before they’re done and try to work with them, you’re asking for a mess.
- Half-baked bread or cake collapses into a mushy mess.
- Half-baked chicken or pork can sicken you, or worse.
- Half-baked vegetables can be crunchy and inedible.
Every oven is different, the size and shape of foods are different, and if you fail to accommodate for that, all the time and effort you’ve put in to your dish can be wasted.
The same is true of over-cooking, but today I want to focus on undercooking – half-baking, so to speak.
When we are working with our kids, we need to be sensitive to their individual “cooking times”. If they’re not ready to move on, they’re not ready to move on. Period. Doesn’t matter if they’re slower than average, what their sibling did when, or that we already purchased the next curriculum.
We need to actively fight against the notion that faster is better, that early is to be praised, or that grade-level competencies should be taught, simply for the sake of a test.
When we move our kids along before they’re ready, we send a few messages:
- We tell them that mastery isn’t as important as completion.
- We tell them that we’re more concerned about the “norm” than we are with supporting where they are.
- We tell them that rushed and half-competencies are acceptable because this learning is just a means to an end.
But what is this “end”, actually? Our goal, our true goal, is not the end of the year assessments required by the state, or admission to the right university, or Pre-calc in the sixth grade, or faster/better/more impressive than the kid next door.
Our goal is that, as adults, our people would be able to function well in the world around them, learn what they need to learn to do what they want to do, be self-motivated and self-monitoring learners who are confident in their ability to try something new, to ask questions, to take the time to figure things out, even if it’s hard.
This doesn’t happen if they’re constantly being pushed on to the “next thing”, simply because it’s “time”.
Creating a Solid Foundation in Learning
One of the biggest gifts and freedoms we have as homeschoolers is that we can slow down, pause, try again, reset the timer, so to speak. We can turn down the external pressure and breathe.
In our family, we have to intentionally reduce the “noise” of what our kids should be doing and give them space to grow. My oldest was a very early reader. He came by it naturally, easily. For my girls, even though we read books, sing songs, and explore words together every day, the process has been longer, slower. I could push them, drill them, to move faster, but the truth is that I see them “baking”. They’re figuring things out. There’s progress and growing understanding, and if I push them too far, too fast, reading will change from a fun, cozy, affirming activity to a chore to be avoided. And that would be a crime.