Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I'm sure you've heard of the slow food movement, but how about the slow parenting movement? In a recent New York Times article, Lisa Belkin says there has been a revolt in the parenting blog world. Parents are getting off the treadmill and stepping back from micro-managing their children's daily lives. This is great news and fits in perfectly with our educational philosophy. In fact, in the past few months I have begun calling what we do the "Slow School Movement." This recognizes that children develop on their own timetable, not on ours. Some kids seem to be born reading. Other kids could care less. When my son was 6 and I was trying to sit him down to teach him to read he said, "Mommy, when my sisters were my age did they WANT to learn to read?" I didn't have the heart to tell him that when his sisters were his age they could both read chapter books. As it turns out Frank (now in 5th grade) was better served by waiting to learn to read. You see Frank, unlike his sisters, was taught to read phonetically. He can now sound out and correctly pronounce many words that his sisters, who learned to read by sight, find difficult. Another aspect of the slow school movement is time spent outdoors. People often ask if we have P.E. at the school. The answer at this point is no. Instead our children spend at least one full school hour everyday outside playing. Yes, just playing. Imaginary games, big group games, Star Wars, regular wars, "bunny", run monkeys run, capture the flag and countless other games all of which are invented, taught and run by the children. Could we be using that hour to raise test scores or tutor struggling kids or give advanced work to others? Sure. But we feel that play is a necessary, in fact mandatory, part of childhood. Does it look aimless? Yes, sometimes it does. But the slow school movement, like the slow parenting movement and the slow food movement, all recognize the same thing. Life is short. Instead of rushing, pushing, striving and stressing we should be enjoying, savoring, loving, observing, laughing and living. As short as life is, childhood is even shorter. Don't waste it by constantly rushing around and pushing your children to succeed. Slow down and enjoy it. And if at all possible find a school which supports your belief that childhood, like life, is way too short to spend it behind a desk.