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The Benefits of Slowing Down

I didn't pull my kids from public school because I felt they were being indoctrinated or school was harming my children. I pulled them this year because I felt that the public school system is broken, needing lots of rebalancing and redirection to get our kids ready for their unknown future. I also see how hurried and fixed to a deadline school can be. As a teacher, it is hard to go off script or follow your classes lead when you know you need to get these standards in before xyz. It's also hard to let a student "slow down" because you worry what a test score, parent, or others may think. Saying they are just not ready really isn't acceptable.

When we slowly began school back in August and September, we really focused on being outside, playing more, less structure, less bookwork, and honestly less school. We tried to focus on just enjoying one another and slowing down life. Many would say this is the complete opposite of a public school classroom during these months. Normally you would be setting procedures, routines, getting to know one another, fitting in must-do lessons, finding the student's "baseline", etc. Or as a working or even non-working parent, feeling extremely busy and run down from being on-the-go, getting back into a school routine, earlier bedtimes, homework, sports, oh and maybe squeeze in dinner, etc. This is exactly what I wanted to get away from.

My oldest was in public school for kindergarten and first grade, which were both overall great experiences, but when we started homeschooling, he needed a lot of deschooling. A time for my son to disconnect from "school ways" being the expectation. This was so hard for us both. We had both been trained that this is what we do for school. We have to sit at a table/desk, do this worksheet, complete these tasks, use his hour for math time, do our work for 5-7 hours, then we can call it a day. That is the school system we have set in place.

When we began getting into some routines and figuring out what worked best for us, he struggled. He fought me with reading and writing. Two areas he disliked when he was in public school. He was often pulled out for reading groups, or encouraged to write more, because he was able but he just had to really focus and concentrate. Neither of those things were bad, but his attitude and posture towards those areas turned south quick. He knew he wasn't reading or writing like his other classmates. He knew why he was being pulled out for a reading group. So when we began homeschooling, this was a pain point.

I remember having conversations with my husband about not focusing on these areas as much and when my son was ready he would be fine and would be able to read and write. Although I 1000% agree with "your child will learn when they're ready", it is still hard to trust the process.

Each school day I would still have him read a book by himself, one that would boost his confidence. I would read books to him and he would read on EPIC. He was reading but maybe not as much as he would be back in public school. When he was frustrated, we stopped. I knew we needed to build up his confidence slowly. Well, finally, last week the whole "trusting the process" came to fruition.

When we pulled out an app to review, he got to a book with a lengthy page. I told him I would sit next to him in case he needed help, but he didn't. He was reading. He was reading the whole paragraph independently. He didn't need my help. He took the skills we were slowly working on and what he already knew and was putting it into practice. We were both beaming with smiles! I couldn't help but remind him of the growth I just witnessed. Although this seems like a small victory, he would have never done that last year or even over the summer. His confidence had slowly grown over time because we were able to slow down and not have to reach for that next reading level.

It keeps getting better. Then, we started writing. We were using an interest-led learning bundle about bridges, which he was very interested in. He started his story with Mario, obviously, and weaved bridges into the story. After a few minutes, I looked over and he was well into his story, not asking for help, sounding out the words by himself, and not asking to stop. He didn't fight me or ask when he could be done. He was enjoying writing! A huge milestone!

Seeing the fruits of slowing down and choosing this year to homeschool was a sweet moment. Honestly the first big moment of knowing we made a good choice in his schooling. He's enjoying learning. He's confident, and I am 100% positive that slowing down, taking a step back from "school", and letting him flourish when he was ready, is why he is back to enjoying learning again.

When we rush, try to get to that next goal too fast, all while not enjoying ourselves, we end up unhappy and overwhelmed. Then we doubt ourselves and compare our progress to others. We don't give ourselves time to savor moments, sit in quietness, observe, slow down and enjoy.

Teachers, moms, dads, homeschooling families- If I can encourage you today, I want to remind you that there is no race to the finish line. You can take a step back and pause. Ask yourself, what is working and what is causing a pain point? Then observe some more. What can we take away or step back from to allow for more growth? There are always benefits from slowing down.

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