One of the biggest challenges facing parents desiring to follow True Education principles is the concept of delayed formal academics. In an increasingly competitive world, the pressure to have our children keep up with or surpass their peers is intense. We first fall into the habit of comparing our child with others when they are very young – how old was Jr. when he started to crawl? Said her first word? Took his first steps? As our children enter their toddler years, we hear of children learning their alphabet by two, and reading by three or four. We begin to wonder, are we hindering our child’s future progress by not getting a set of flashcards and starting to review the alphabet by the time he is 18 months?
Mark 4:28 tells us, “…first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” We know that to enjoy the optimum summer corn experience, we want fresh, plump, sweet kernels of corn, picked when matured to perfection. Nothing less will do. To enjoy corn at it’s best, we must allow the corn to develop the way God intended. For our children, it is exactly the same. With God’s help, we can give our children an optimum education at the proper stages of maturity.
It is easy to forget that young children are constantly learning, making connections and developing new ideas as they encounter the world around them. A nature walk presents a young child with a feast for the senses – so much to see, touch and explore. As he touches the rough bark of a tree, picks up a fallen leaf, or listens to the cry of a bird circling overhead, he is gaining the scientific knowledge that serves as a basis for future learning. Time with Daddy folding laundry teaches the importance of neatness and order in the home and the world in general. Cutting fruit for a salad with Mommy reinforces not only nutrition, but also cooperation and the joy of a job well done. These priceless foundational experiences cannot be taught with worksheets, flashcards or while seated in a classroom desk.
There is no denying that a child will eventually need to take a pencil in hand and apply herself to a math problem, a spelling list, or a timeline of historical events. That time, however is not as early as society would have us to think is necessary. “The only schoolroom for children until eight or ten years of age should be in the open air, amid the opening flowers and nature’s beautiful scenery, and their most familiar textbook the treasures of nature. These lessons, imprinted upon the minds of young children amid the pleasant, attractive scenes of nature, will not be soon forgotten…. “ CT 80.
Originally published June 3, 2010.