Interrupting Creativity for “Real” School

interrupting_creativity_for_real_schoolI should interrupt, really I should. At least that is what I keep telling myself. We were supposed to start our learning day over twenty minutes ago. Yet here we are, the girls working on completely different artistic endeavors all while my son is working off his excess energy from breakfast. I pace back and forth, asking myself this important question, “Should I interrupt creativity for ‘real’ school?”

Let’s face it, those arithmetic lessons do need to be done. At some time. The question is when. I’m looking for an easy answer. Here we go… When the Lord leads. There we have it. But, easier said than done.

My OCD, get-it-done-and-out-of-the-way nature wants to interrupt. My desire is for them to complete that list of tasks I’ve set before them so I can feel secure in my teaching and parenting. No one is going to say we haven’t finished our learning or that we’re behind. No sir! Plus, aren’t I supposed to be teaching my children the value of work ethic; showing up on time, completing tasks in a timely manner, and all that jazz? (sigh)

I’m sure this is a dilemma I am not the first to face. Nor will I be the last. It’s a struggle to find balance between what needs to be done and when it should be done. It’s all too easy to allow tasks to control our day and overlook the beauty of each moment.

Perhaps what I need to be asking myself is, “Might this be what ‘real’ learning looks like?”

Instead of focusing on being behind, and that list of to-do’s waiting for us, maybe God has a bigger plan. What if He is using this moment to reach my children’s hearts, and doing a work in them? It might be that this project is bringing peace to my child, opening their minds to receive when formal learning begins. I do know one thing for certain. If I carelessly interrupt this moment with shouts of frustration and commands to get a move-on, I risk losing a teachable moment for good.

The truth of the matter is, at some point, they are, indeed, going to need to tackle that arithmetic work. I’ll wrangle them to the table and ask them to knuckle down. Just not yet. And when I do, instead of shouts, I’ll gently pat them on the heads or kiss their ruffled hair and remind them we need to get started soon. I’ll give them a moment to adjust their minds and hearts, commending their hard work and rejoicing in their creativity. Then, we’ll work through those lessons which build them in other ways.

As for teaching them proper work ethic and timely deadlines? Occasional moments taken to explore creativity are not going to ruin them. They see deadlines lived daily, both through their father’s work and homeschool opportunities. Work ethic is a way of life. If anything, it is these moments our children need most. The understanding that life is not all about pushing papers. It’s about embracing each moment and giving it to God.

I’ve got this down, right? Never again will I stress over starting on time and finishing X number of pages. (ahem) I wish. No, the bug still bites. But, I am inspired to give this area of our learning over to God. My desire is to finish. If that is also God’s desire… awesome! More importantly, God’s will needs to take precedence. If that means book work, that’s fine. If not, that’s okay, too!

May we stress less about what our learning looks like to the world, and even ourselves; focusing more on hearing God’s call in our day. When He directs our learning, we can never go wrong.

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning,…”
~ Proverbs 1:5a

Your Turn!: We talk about our children being creative, but are you inspired to be artistic?

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11 thoughts on “Interrupting Creativity for “Real” School

  1. I think the beauty of homeschooling is to set weekly goals instead of daily ones , allowing for creativity. This brings to mind an argument I had with my now 21 year old son’s 4th grade teacher. He was in writing mode and came home from school so excited to finish his writing everyday. I sent a note saying he was skipping his 20 minutes of reading homework as he was spending over that time frame writing every day. She sent back that he still needed to read… I laughed and asked her what writer reads someone else’s work in the middle of writing?

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  2. Its always a struggle with that balance isn’t it? I am that way with free play and games with my kiddos. If they’re outside playing an elaborate game with each other, I loathe to interrupt to do anything study-oriented. Mine are young yet so most of their day should be spent playing but I totally hear you with wanting the homeschooling goals completed.

    I try my best to have a semi routine of the day but have found that if i don’t complete the “harder” stuff earlier in the morning it’s almost impossible to get it done later.

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  3. I try to let my kids pursue their artistic desires, but for me, I tend to stick with creative writing. I generally don’t do it often, aside from during NaNoWriMo, but it’s something. I’m also really slacking at learning to play guitar. I figure if I want my kids to be artistic and creative, I should model it for them.

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  4. I totally know how you feel, as I often feel its hard to find the right balance. I try to remember that being the person I want to be (ie. patient, kind) is more important the doing/completing the checklist. So much of this is about managing our expectations and keeping them in line with God’s.

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  5. I think the most important thing to consider is the emotional impact – we often ease off the schoolwork if there are quite a few emotions to deal with/clear out/recover from, and ride the wave when enthusiasm sets back in. But it’s not as easy as it looks to make these decisions every day, I agree with you there! Sometimes I let my daughter persue something creative, then by the time ‘school’ has to be done, she’s run out of steam. So . . . that didn’t work. But on the other hand, she learned something about her limits and enjoyed the thrill of being motivated to do something from the inside out. I agree when you said that as long as youngsters see their parents and themselves working diligently on something and reaching tangible goals, they will ‘get it’. I write this as my daughter practises the piano – she’s made it to grade 8 piano and school, homeschooled, so something must be working! 🙂

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  6. I love this. I’m thinking about homeschooling my kiddos (currently 3 and 18mo) and I struggle with this already as far as wanting to make sure we spend some time each day doing learning activities. Despite that though, I find this really encouraging because I would rather have the dilemma of deciding when to steer my children away from creative play and artistic endeavors than to not have the choice and to know that my kids are not given that freedom at school.

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  7. I can so relate to this 🙂 But then, this flexibility we are allowed is one of the most beautiful things about homeschooling. Look at the long haul. Are your kids learning? I’m sure they are. If we wanted to copy “real” school, we’d send our kids to one.

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