It’s not easy to motivate a child to learn. It’s not easy to foster a passion in a child and encourage them to pursue that passion.
It’s not easy being a parent.
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My biggest parenting challenge
One of my biggest parenting challenges has been to redefine what’s absolutely necessary in any given afternoon and what responsibilities and chores can be done later in exchange for delving into a current, exciting passion.
I’ve been homeschooling my daughters for 16 years now, and the most worthwhile, deeply challenging learning they’ve ever pursued has been the things that seemed “frivolous” or “extracurricular.” I can guarantee you that those moments of deeply challenging learning were never when they were reading from a page they were forced to read in a textbook or when they were sitting at the table hunched over a workbook page.
When my kids learn the most
They’ve learned the most when I let them abandon workbooks and assignments for something that seemed earth-shattering and very important to their young-child or teen minds on any given afternoon. Seemingly “extra” pursuits have often gone on to define who they are.
Over the past decade and a half of homeschooling my children I’ve learned that today’s small child with “silly” questions is tomorrow’s colorful promise, and if I encourage her to fill today’s minutes with passion, together we impact the hours of her future.
Today was one of those days that it all hit home for me. The sun rose earlier than I this morning, as she has for many weeks now, dancing through my open window in calm, warm snipets of promise, blowing between the poplar branches.
Realizing I had missed watching the sun yawn over the tree tops outside my window, I wished I could hold every fleeting minute of the morning’s promise that I had missed. Cradle them like delicate, warm, farm-fresh eggs in my hands.
These spring days offer pledges, after all, of numerous, irresistible possibilities that beg to be noticed.
I was so thankful that this morning was our last day of formal book work for the school year. We would have more time for clearing future horse pastures, kayaking on the lake, building up a daughter’s business, refinishing more floors, playing in the dirt, assembling ATC art kits for a local children’s hospital, and watching the day’s clouds change shapes.
My youngest was eager for summer as well. The minute after she finished her science test, but before diving into the long list of all she had to complete today, she grabbed her Nikon, plopped herself right in front of me on the sun-streaked wide-planked pine floors, and announced, “Everything’s changing. It won’t be the same tomorrow! Please?”
I’d already noticed how yesterday’s green lilac buds were today’s purple spheres of assurance.
Yesterday’s small-budded trees of the woods were today’s dotted light-green tent encircling the yard.
So sometimes I say “yes”
Yesterday’s curly-haired kindergartener who loved kittens and ballet was today’s rising-sophmore Mechanical Engineering student who graduated 12 years of homeschooling and went on to thrive at college. She is returning home tonight for a few weeks. Then she’s heading off to an internship in Boston, to build prototypes of nuclear weapon detectors, and reminding me that even when I fail my children can most definitely succeed. Her internship would certainly not include kittens or a ballet, but maybe mallards and Fenway.
So I said “yes” to the photographer. And in less than another handful of fleeting, spring minutes, she produced an abundance of beauty.
She documented details I had not seen until she showed me, through her lens.
And there are always surprises
Turned out there were other surprises in our day… a stray dog, a neighbor’s call, an inspiration for her next blog post that had to be typed up while the muse struck, and unexpected stable time for her sister, my entrepreneur…
And soon softball beaconed the photographer, who is also a lover of a twelve-inch, yellow ball of joy.
So our last day of formal book work didn’t wind up entailing much book work at all. But there’ll be time to finish her History project next week.
So I choose to motivate my kids by encouraging them
Today’s minutes will soon be memories dancing through my open window. I will try to hold these delicate, warm snipets of moments with gratitude. But I will not count them before they hatch, because I am well aware that I have an overflowing basketful.
For now–as my slipper-clad 12-year-old announced this morning, on our pine plank floors–“Everything’s changing.” Today’s camera-carrying, bat-wielding young lady is tomorrow’s colorful promise, and if I encourage her to fill today’s minutes with passion, together we impact the hours of her future.
Glance at these posts for simple photography challenges to encourage your young photographer.
Many of the photos in this post are Hayley’s handiwork. If you’d like to see what my Nikon-carrying, fast-pitch softball pitcher is photographing and blogging about today, she’d love it if you stop by her little corner of the internet at Flourishing By Restful Falls. Specifically, you may like to read the 20 Reasons Why She Loves Homeschooling.
My daughter and I both love our Nikons; you can read more about our favorite camera and even purchase your own here.
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