Is learning meant to be this stressful?
Updated: Jan 27
By Judith Jolma
Sweet 4-year-old Patric loved his mother but did not like going to his private school's P-K class. He protested with tantrums at drop-off. By 2nd grade, he was diagnosed with a learning disability. Homework sparked fights in the home, stress, and anxiety for all involved. Patric felt dumb and refused to apply himself. As he grew, he continued to make poor choices, and by early high school was self-medicating.
Meet Megan! She loves her public school and works well! She is outgoing, very social, and bright. But she is embarrassed about doing too well. She pretends to not be as smart as she is. She is bored with the work and doesn’t do homework because she doesn’t have to in order to get a good grade. She seems to be the model student but inside she is empty, unfulfilled, and her inner light goes out.
MaryAnn is an ambitious, idealistic mother with big dreams for her family. She is determined to homeschool BUT — She walks into a homeschool conference and is suddenly overwhelmed. She buys a lot of curriculum but always feels guilty about not buying enough or about not using the curriculum she has. She says her personality clashes with her son and they just can’t work together. Both become unmotivated and discouraged, and their relationship is damaged.
Is learning supposed to be this stressful? Let’s not even talk about the disaster that is distance learning.
I’d like to challenge everything our modern culture has told us about education and invite you to lay a new foundation on which to build your child’s education.
The stories above are real. As a homeschool consultant, I hear them several times a week.
Childhood has become a high-stress, high-stakes competition in which both children and parents are trying to prove their worth to the world based on a report card. You, along with the many loving and well-intended parents I speak to every week, know in your gut that something is terribly wrong. You are correct.
You want a good relationship with your child. Not one built on homework battles, and personality
conflicts. You want them to enjoy their childhood full of adventure, laughter, and freedom without the guilt of neglecting their education. You feel an inner call to something better for your child and for your relationship with your child, but you have no idea where the root of this problem lies and therefore no idea how to do better.
We are building education on the wrong foundation.
The great philosopher Plato said: The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.
Plutarch echoed him saying: The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
Much later Maria Montessori would observe: If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future.
The great educators of the past knew something about education that we have forgotten. We have forgotten that the prize at the end of an educated mind is not the information transmitted but the happy child who has become a happy adult -- fully mature, independent, and free to do for he has learned how to do. But we have lost sight of the child and act as if the information itself is more valuable than the soul.
Our education system begins with a list of academic disciplines and divides them out over a 12 year period to figure out how to cram it all into the child’s educational years. They are always running out of time. They keep adding years, longer years, fewer breaks, and still 60 percent of 4th graders are not proficient readers. And still, three-quarters of all 12th graders are not competent writers. While only 40 percent of 4th-grade students reached the proficient level in mathematics, according to NAEP’s National Report Card.
Have we ever stopped to ask:
“How did God create the mind to learn?”
“What did he create it to learn?”
“What is God’s design for childhood?” and
“How can I cooperate with that design?”
One woman did. Her name was Maria Montessori. She identified three things as being pillars of education: the Child, the prepared adult, and the prepared environment.
Let’s discuss these pillars, not in an attempt to become experts in the Montessori method. Rather, to zero in on something very important, which she identified as the perfect starting point for education. Because at the end of the day it does not matter if you send your children to public school, private school, or embrace the full homeschool lifestyle. If you are not building upon a keen knowledge of the child, the prepared adult, and the prepared environment, your child’s education will be inadequate.
Dr. Montessori taught us a poignant prayer that every parent should begin their day with before greeting children.
“Help us, O God, to enter into the secret of Childhood, so that we may know, love, and serve the child in accordance with the laws of justice and following thy holy will.”
With this prayer in our hearts, let’s consider the secrets of childhood. Over the next several weeks, I will be writing in-depth articles exploring the three pillars of education: The child, the prepared adult, and the prepared environment in an attempt to show that education is not meant to be stressful. Rather an exciting adventure when undertaken in cooperation with human design.
By Judith Jolma, Founder of Sophia Homeschool.
Sophia Homeschool teaches parents how to homeschool. Learn more about our training at Sophiahomeschool.com
Learn how to create a homeschool method and environment based on your family's needs so you can thrive. My Foundations of Homeschooling Masterclass teaches parents to work with their budget, schedule, learning style, teaching style, and resources so each member of the family has his or her needs met— including yours! Learn to create a peaceful and joyful learning environment that lasts a lifetime. Identify learning differences and adapt your educational plan accordingly. Unlock the mysteries of teaching multiple grades at once. By knowing what your needs are, you will save thousands of dollars, time, and energy on methods that do not work. We will end homework battles and restore your relationship with your child.