As a parent, leadership is a daily job, and it can be all-consuming. If we don’t direct the day, will teeth get brushed? Will math be practiced? Will bedrooms be cleaned? Will Bibles be read and prayers be said?
If we don’t walk at the front of the line, will these little ones go astray? Will they know where to go and how to get there?
We are placed in the position of authority in our homes, and that isn’t a job to be shunned or taken lightly. However, being in charge can lead us to put on blinders as we focus intently on the goal of raising healthy, responsible adults. We can too easily miss the wonderful people these kids already are.
Early in the fall, we had a remarkable day with glorious, sunny weather. My mom and I took the kids for a big walk. We strolled behind as my children walked ahead of us, happily brandishing sticks (and light sabers!), picking up interesting finds, and relishing the warm day. I called out to them from time to time if someone drifted too close to poison ivy or became too enthusiastic with a stick. But overall, I simply chatted with my mom and observed the wonderful way that children learn even without direct leadership. Their curiosity comes naturally, so I can’t help wondering if their learning actually happens more readily without my interference. Certainly their joy seems to!
But this post isn’t simply an attempt to say “get out of the way” of kids’ learning, I have something a little different mulling around in my brain as I reminisce about that particular afternoon and reflect upon some things that I’ve observed in the last few months of homeschooling with a newborn in our family.
When I stand behind the action and watch from a few steps back, I am still leading my family. I am leading them toward MORE of what they are doing. I am showing my children that their activities are productive, their conversations are important, and their observations are valuable. I am leading them to do more of the same, to see their choices as good. By not interrupting, I am saying, “You are doing good things. You are smart, curious, and important.” I tell them by my actions that we are on the right track. School is going well, and they are growing as amazing people on this beautiful planet. I do have to step in at strategic points in our week. I do have to make concrete plans from time to time and take the first steps into new activities and new lessons. However, the more I lead from behind, the more I see the leaders that these kids are becoming, and I have the ultimate pleasure of watching it happen.