Your child’s education isn’t important!
Woah, stop the presses. Isn’t your child’s education the most important thing there is?! Well, while I’ll agree (as a strong, college educated professional) that education is important, I believe that as a society as a whole we have placed far too much value on it. So it might be better to describe it this way.
Your child’s education isn’t as important as you think.
I was watching TV with my daughters while on vacation when a particular commercial came on the screen. I won’t state the specific company, but it was a well-known educational app that was aimed towards helping children to learn. In fact, once upon a time, I subscribed to this educational app for kids. I still thought it was great and really put together well. Props, you know? But the commercial? I always had a problem with them. They fed into the worried parental mind that exists so readily today.
This particular mindset of the modern parent said, “Is my child up to speed?”
It was a mindset that was seeped in comparison and anxiety.
It said, “Is my child learning fast enough? Are they smart enough? Are they going to be behind?”
So, back to the commercial. This particular one showed an interview with a once-panicked mom.
She states happily, “We were so worried Billy was falling behind! But now he’s learning by leaps and bounds!”
Leaps and bounds. The camera switched over to little Billy playing happily with his tablet. He looked to be about two years old. The only leaping he needed to do was over mud puddles. And the only bounding truly required was towards his favorite playground. He was a toddler, preschooler at the most, and his parents were causing undue anxiety for not only him but themselves when they kept sweating if a child who couldn’t yet tie his shoes recognized every letter of the alphabet and what sound they made. Just my opinion.
I’ve been there, you see. I’ve been that worried parent, and I did it long enough to come out the other side wiser and more relaxed. I still have a lot to learn about parenting, and I don’t consider myself the know-all, be-all. But my kids are pretty darn happy. That’s good enough for me.
Have you ever noticed how when you rush about trying to get out the door on time that your children fall apart? It’s that way with most things when you push a child beyond what is possible or what they’re ready to handle. I look back at many afternoons at the table, my daughter crying, and me feeling like a terrible mom!
I guess I started to realize the error of my ways a few years ago. I was so anxious about it all. My daughter was in first grade, and she couldn’t read! I mean, she could read her sight words and trudge through some Dr. Suess, but when it came to picking up a book and simply reading without the painful phonics and stumbling pauses, she wasn’t there yet.
Her cousin could read!
Other kids in her homeschool group could read.
It was me, most likely. I was messing my kid up!
As a homeschooling mother, I worried I wasn’t giving my child what she needed. I worried I wasn’t preparing her adequately for the future. I worried it was my fault she couldn’t read!
I pushed harder. She fell apart easier.
School days were often painful, and I realized my child hated reading.
As an avid reader, and an even more passionate writer, the thought of my own flesh and blood not being a book worm like mommy was especially painful. She loved her some science, which my medical field self was proud of, and she zipped through math better than I ever could, but the reading. Painful. Painfully behind.
I sat at the kitchen table going over curriculum, lessons plans, and catalogs for the upcoming school year, and at that moment I realized I was pushing my oldest child too hard. She wasn’t ready to move forward to the next grade. She hadn’t met the milestones she should for reading. Sometimes she hit the mark every time, but it wasn’t consistent. I felt in my honest heart that I needed to hold her back a year.
Y’all, I was crushed. She didn’t care. I explained she would be repeating a grade, and I let her know that her cousin (the same age by a week) would be moving ahead of her. She was fine with it. I slowly followed suit.
See, I thought it was my fault. I thought she was behind. I had set in my mind the particular path her learning should take, and anything other than that seemed like an epic fail!
We live in a world that shows commercials for teaching your baby to read. Ads tote the importance of your child being ahead, and certainly not behind. They talk a lot about ensuring your child’s successful future, as if when they learn their ABC’s will determine if they get into Harvard.
Well, here’s the truth of it. Billy may not get into Harvard. In fact, Billy may not want to go to Harvard. He may not want to attend college at all. And that’s okay! We have fewer tradesmen and blue-collar workers than ever before because society has placed such a value on higher education, forgetting that it takes all kinds to make the world go round.
Want to hear the craziest part?! My child wasn’t behind. The only reason she was even in the grade she was in was because I enrolled her in it. As a homeschooling parent, I had started her Pre-K early. We had moved on to Kindergarten before her friends in our neighborhood who were the same age. If she had gone to public school she would not have been able to attend Kindergarten when she did, but I had been so excited and determined to teach her. And that’s fine and dandy! But I had to know when to throttle down, when to push her, when to relax and take a breath. I look back now and wish I had that time back. I wish we had played more with toys in the floor, spent more time cuddling and giggling, and less time making her sit at a table and learn how to count to twenty before she could even pronounce the number correctly.
The world she was growing up in said she needed to read by five, but it said nothing of yes ma’am or no sir.
The world she was growing up in said she needed to be involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible to build character, teamwork, and a competitive spirit. It said nothing about the benefit of time with mom and dad, or how much knowledge could be gleaned from sitting on the porch shelling peas with grandma.
The world she was growing up in said the honor roll was a must but said very little about befriending the quiet girl sitting on the bus alone.
The world we were living in said I was a failure as a parent if my child didn’t keep the same pace as the majority. It said there was only one way to learn, one style, one setting, and one ruler to measure everyone’s success by. It said nothing of individuality, special gifting, unique talent, or how the planet could keep spinning even if your offspring weren’t number one at absolutely everything!
Billy could fall down and be okay.
Billy could make straight A’s, but be a bully.
Billy could hate homework, but still be successful in life.
Sally could have trouble learning to read, but create a symphony that brought people to tears.
Sally could flunk math and still lead a productive, happy life!
Good grades didn’t predict your future, but being a decent human being said a lot.
Being first place wouldn’t earn you a wonderful life, but putting yourself last would lead to a fulfilling one. Do you know what I mean by that?
We have to teach our children how to be kind, love others, and serve as Jesus did. Heck, He told His followers to drop their nets, leave their jobs, give away their gold, and even go on their journeys without a bag packed. He didn’t plan for a perfect future for them, but He did give them the tools to build up an everlasting treasure in Heaven. He showed them that kindness was cool, being last put you first, and hanging with the outcasts was where it was truly at! I wanna teach my kids that!
You know what? My daughter reads beautifully now and learning how a little behind the average age didn’t harm her a bit. I had to learn to settle myself and not place too much stress on either of us. I had to realize what’s important in life and what’s not. The world will tell you a lot of things are must-haves and have-to-be dones, but nothing is more important than relationships with those around us and learning to be a better person tomorrow than you were today.
I am a college educated professional, and I make really good money. I have so many options with my career, and I could live anywhere in the country. There’s tons of room for growth, promotional potential, and retirement benefits. My education allows me a lot of freedom in my life, and I think that’s awesome. But it’s not the most important thing.
I could have the highest degree possible for my vocation, and I could have obtained the highest GPA in my graduating class. I could have attended the most prestigious program out there, and have a billion certifications behind my name. I could keep my educational level ever-growing, learning everything I could possibly know about my changing field, but it would mean absolutely nothing if I was a jerk.
I am a successful nurse because I treat my patients like people rather than just a number or diagnosis. My patients love me because I consider my job a privilege to serve mankind. I do well in my career because I’m a good team player, I have a positive attitude, and I’m easygoing in what is a difficult, changing environment. Yeah, I needed the degree to get me to the bedside, but it’s my love for people that keeps me there and happy. I don’t want to be that person who hates their job, and I don’t want my children to be that person either.
You’ve seen technology. The world could be run by robots if we wanted, but one thing prevents that. Love. We need it to make the world go round. We need humanity. We need a smile. Everyone hates self-checkout at Walmart because they want the friendly checker to say hello. We need more friendly hellos.
We need more people who love what they do.
We need more people who are passionate about one another, about helping the planet move forward in harmony. We’ve become a selfish place to live. We cut line, cheat, and win by whatever means necessary. We think that will bring happiness. A bigger degree, a more successful career, a fatter bank account, a larger home. Surely these things will bring us happiness! We spend so much time running faster for something better that by the end of our lives we lay there exhausted wondering where the time went. When did the kids grow up? Why don’t they ever come to visit? We sank all that money into our savings account, we built up that retirement cushion, but now that the time has come, no one is there to enjoy it with us. We’re alone. A bunch of highly educated, loners with a huge, extremely quiet home. Where’s the laughter gone?
Ahh, man, I could go on with this forever, but if you’re not getting it by now then I don’t know if you will. But I hope you do, before it’s too late. When you’re on your deathbed it won’t be Billy’s great grasp of phonics that flashes before your eyes. It will be all the lost time with those you loved, all the missed opportunities to build a treasure for yourself and your family beyond this world. It will be regret. And you will finally see that all the things you spent so much time worrying about were meaningless.