Posted by: chrisdavis | March 20, 2011

Words of Encouragement

In the earliest days of what came to be called “homeschooling”–when those of us who decided not to send out children to public school were being called weird (no doubt some of our behaviors and attitudes were weird)–we looked for any encouragement we could find. Often we found that encouragement in the testimonies of those who had gone before us, or from writers and people we admired. In the days to follow, I will share some of our favorite thoughts for you “newbies”; and, also, to encourage those of you still on the path…

Although I am not a fan of “unschooling”, I still consider what follows one of my favorite quotes from John Holt, father of the unschooling movement:

What is lovely about children is that they can make such a production, such a big deal, out of anything–or nothing. From my office window I see many families walking down the street with their children. The adults plod along. The children twirl, leap, skip, run. Now to this side, now to that. They look for things to step over or walk along or around. They climb on anything that can be climbed. I never want to be where I cannot see it.

All that energy and foolishness, all that curiosity, questions, talk, all the fierce passions and inconsolable sorrows, immoderate joys, seem to many to be a nuisance to be endured if not a disease to be cured. To me, they are a national asset, a treasure beyond price, more necessary to our health and our very survival than any oil or uranium or name-what-you-will.

One day in the public garden I see on a small patch of grass under some trees a father and a two-year-old girl. the father is lying down. The little girl runs everywhere. What joy to run! Suddenly she stops, looks intently at the ground, bends down, picks something up. A twig? A pebble? She stands up; runs again. She sees a pigeon and chases it. Suddenly she stops and looks up into the sunlit trees. What does she see? Perhaps a squirrel; perhaps a bird; perhaps the shapes and colors of the leaves in the sun. Then she bends down, finds something else, picks it up, examines it. Another miracle!

Gears! leaves! twigs! Little children love the world. That is why they are so good at learning about it. For it is love, not tricks and techniques, that lies at the heart of all true learning. Can we bring ourselves to let children learn and grow through that love?



  1. I am also not a fan of “unschooling” to the extent where you let your kids decide if and when to learn anything. I do think that some unschoolers have good ideas. I do think kids should have more free time, but not all free time. I like relaxed schooling and less book/paperwork. I think we can learn from the unschoolers and the school-at-homers. We don’t all have to be the same. Hopefully we do the best for our children-that is the most important.

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