What is education? I know this seems like a strange question for some, but I think it’s important to discuss and ensure you know where I’m coming from for future posts.
What Is Education
When I speak of education, I speak from the meaning of an enlightening moment and gaining knowledge to help one succeed in life. Education does not STOP at school. Many parents go wrong here. In our daily lives, youth and adults are being educated; we NEVER stop learning. Think about it, as you walk on a beautiful trail with your child, friend, spouse, dog, etc. you see some strange looking leaf or flower. What do you do? You pick it up, analyze it, ask questions, take pictures and Google it. You just educated yourself, possibly on some poison ivy, poison oak or stinging nettle.
Let’s Dig Into Education – Mommy Goes Insane
When we had our first daughter, the only education I knew or thought about was sending her to school (formal schooling – a teacher instructing the class and kids are sitting quietly sucking in all the information). The thought process was all about her getting into the best college possible. Wait! I was thinking about all of this, and I was only three months pregnant!?! But, education is imperative (Yes, education is a big deal in our home)! However, our child was not even born.
As I carried her in my womb, we read stories, talked to her, sung songs, etc. Once she was born, we continued these things. At the age of one – three years old we walked around the park picking up rocks, sticks and any nasty trash she could find (what’s up with kids finding the nastiness things ever to “explore”). We looked at trees, watched birds, colored, played in the dirt. We watched Sesame Street, Word World, and Barney. During the time of playing in the dirt, I never looked at it as part of her education. It was essentially playtime in my mind; time for my daughter to get dirty. Yes, we had fun together, but what was she learning?
At the age of 4, I HAD to put her into a full day, structured Preschool program. Why? She needed education. Remember, my thought of education was all about formal schooling. I wanted her to know all of her alphabets, numbers, write her name, write and read words, etc., etc. And yes, we worked on these things at home, but she NEEDED “Education.” By this time, we had another daughter who was 2 and one on the way. I was slowly learning there was more to education other than perfect reading and math skills.
Music and Foreign Language Is Education
Music is great for little minds. Learning to play an instrument and learning a new language while young is great for you! I remember taking piano lessons as a kid and my mind was opened to so many new things. As a military family that travels the world, knowing my children can speak fluently with the locals is always a plus. We lived in Japan for 2.5 hours and guess who learned the language the easiest? That’s right, our 4-year-old. So….do NOT sleep on music and foreign language not being important for education and don’t wait until a foreign language is a requirement for your child in high school. Introduce it to them today. Try free online language or music classes.
And yeah, it’s just not for little minds either. Even as adults we can learn some music, learn a new language or brush up on our old skills.
Education Just Isn’t Behind School Doors
What I began to realize was my kids were learning from the time we had on the playground, digging in the dirt and most importantly, from one another. Oh, my! Did they EVER learn from one another? They educated one another about good and bad things. That’s ALL I can say right now (major flashbacks, LOL).
Our eldest attended an excellent Preschool program; she was reading, writing her name, spelling, counting, doing addition and subtraction, etc., etc. YES, we LOVED it! We enrolled our middle child at the age of three to “Education.” She had an enjoyable experience as well. She was taught alphabets, numbers, writing, etc., etc. and she loved it!
We moved and our middle daughter missed enrollment for Preschool 4, so she was home with me. WHHAAATTTT???!!!! She’s now four and will be entering kindergarten the upcoming year. I can’t educate my child. No, what do I do? How do I do it? We worked on alphabets, numbers, writing, etc. We watched Sesame Street, Word World, and Barney. She would get frustrated as we reviewed these things (come back for a future post about why) and to calm me we would go outside to walk around and play a little. And guess what I realized? She pointed out colors, shapes, textures, counted rocks, etc. By this time, our youngest was two, so she hung out with us. She was counting, recognizing letters and shapes as well.
Hmmmmm…..wait a minute. They were learning by walking around, exploring and all of this from one another. At that very moment, I realized education just wasn’t sitting listening to someone teach you facts and material. Can we say, “mommy got educated!” Yep, I sure did. I was enlightened to help me succeed as a better mother for MY children. And yes, we did send our youngest to Preschool as well (I will share this wonderful, amazing experience in a future post).
Check out this cute Youtube Channel for Story Time. I met this lovely lady via a FB group and love what she’s doing.
You can find the book here
Let’s Welcome Education
Once I realized I received a bit of education from watching my kids, it was golden. It was truly an eye-opening moment for my home. There is nothing wrong with welcoming education in different formats. I will tell you that I am a bit old fashion with sitting down putting pencil to paper, but at the same time, I understand that children learn by exploring, playing games and many other ways. Just keep in mind that when kids attend school, they are expected to sit quietly, listen to the teacher and do the work as instructed. This doesn’t mean they do not have the opportunity to play and socialize.
As adults, we are still being educated. When we don’t understand something we go to Google, ask family or friends, we attend workshops or additional training for our jobs and many other avenues. We NEVER stop Educating ourselves. There’s always something out there to explore and learn.
We want to encourage our children and ourselves to continue gaining knowledge to succeed in life. Try to focus on making the best of education for your child and yourself. Don’t focus so much on the teacher saying little Johnny or Sue isn’t reading on grade level. Instead, help the teacher by finding ways to help YOUR child improve and learn to work through their struggles. You are your child’s best educator.
You must also remember that it’s not just all about education. You want your child to have fun in life as well. This might be playing outside and climbing trees. Or it might be staying inside and playing computers games. Whatever your child likes you should be encouraging them to also have fun in their life, they are still growing up after all. If your child needs a time out from education then let them. Encourage them to go outside and play, have fun and laugh a little. It’s all about balance.
Know YOU, Be You, Love YOU
What activities do you do at home to set a strong education foundation?
This post was originally featured on Preschool2Teen site April 13, 2016. The video has been added, and I’m happy to announce Preschool2Teen is merging with Mamas and Coffee.