I sat through a talk yesterday meant to equip mothers of young children (birth-5 years) to fully engage in their kids’ education. We were challenged not to force formal education on our babies, but create an environment of learning from the get-go of their young lives.
It was not about when to start teaching letters, by what age they “should” be reading, or which preschools were the best to get their names on the waiting list ASAP. This was about being intentional with how we best play our part to shape their early childhood. It was about studying our kids, learning their strengths and noticing their weaknesses to better equip them to grow and mature. We were encouraged not to feel guilty about what we could/should be doing or give in to fear that we might fatally ruin them. We were charged to take on the role of general contractor of our kids’ education: oversee their process and journey of learning which starts from day one and solely pauses when they sleep, and only then so their little minds can store all that powerful stuff they discovered and explored and practiced and observed all day long.
Part of it is evaluating our own strengths as parents. Taking a step back and acknowledging what we’re not good at and what we’ll need to work extra hard to impart to our children or outsource to someone we respect and trust. Which inherently means research, decision making, weighing options, creativity, and the hard work of letting go sometimes.
Honestly, this was wasn’t shocking information to me. It’s actually one of the major reasons I started this little space on the internet: I recognize I’m not naturally gifted when it comes to Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics. I’m not naturally drawn to doing experiments and projects or diving into to research when curiosity calls. This is accountability to invest in intentional education for my rocket baby boys.
There are other things I value besides STEM skills: character qualities I want to instill, a love of the arts with its ability to feed the soul, depth and competence when it comes to hard emotions and the unanswerable. All this will take immense effort and, in all honesty, can seem overwhelmingly daunting. But it’s lived out, piece by piece, step by step, day by day.
This summer, as I hope to prepare my little rocket baby to rocket into his first years of grade school, I want to delve into this, ponder it. I want to hone my big picture, high aspiration-view of my kids’ futures, and keep intentionally studying them. Come along on the journey and we’ll pause over the big things we want our kids’ to master, not just for academic or ultimately career success, but to maximize their fullest potential. Things like effective communication skills, teamwork, leadership, analytical ability, project management skills, ability to multitask, self-motivation.
Not to push or micromanage or take away their magical childhood, but cognizant of their own learning curve, their pace. Let’s get down on their level and guide them, discover with them, learn with them, engage their curiosity and delight. Let’s notice how the seeds are being planted for those big concepts listed above, and tend our little gardens and watch them grow.