I’ve been cringing reading one mom’s posts on my facebook news feed. Last week the mom and her son spent two hours together completing a grammar worksheet that he then got a 79 on. Her son is in second grade. This week she didn’t even know the meaning of several of the words she was supposed to read to him to practice for his spelling test. Why would one need to know how to spell argosy if one is never, ever going to write that word?
I’m sure her son is getting a rigorous education. I hear about rigorous education all the time. I think it must be a buzzword of the moment because everyone is claiming their school, their curriculum, their standards are rigorous. I’d rather have peace and joy in my home than rigor.
I get a lot of questions from people coming out of the school system about where the spelling test are. EP has none. The kids learn the phonics behind spelling, practice some spelling, but mostly they write. That is, of course, the context where spelling is used. But spelling brings me to another point. If your child is really interested in spelling, then by all means give your child a dictionary and quiz her on the spelling of argosy. But if not, why drill and practice things that will be forgotten tomorrow and were never needed in the first place?
That’s all part of the philosophy behind EP. Give them a strong foundation where it matters. Expose them to a variety of subjects. Let them do more where their interests lie.
My one son reads history books for fun. I don’t have to push it on him. I don’t make him memorize. He learns the names and places and dates because it’s interesting to him. That kind of learning sticks. In the subjects he doesn’t care about, I let it be “enough.”
Now a word of caution here. When your kid is excited about chemistry (and who doesn’t like explosions and slime), don’t go crazy and run out and buy a science kit. If your child really cares, they will make it happen on their own, including bugging you until you do get that kit. You don’t have to chase after a child’s whims trying to flame a passion. When they find what they really like to do, they will just do it. Give your child the gift of time, space, and boredom.
I wrote a companion piece to this on the high school site, called “The Key.” I talk about trading “rigor” for passion and how that has played out for my children so far. And the key? It’s not Easy Peasy. It’s the grace of God. Let Him form your kids into who they were made to be.