One of my current favorite parenting/homeschooling podcasts is the Read Aloud Revival podcast; the host is an upbeat, faith-filled mom who manages to be idealistic and practical at the same time, and who together with the rest of the podcast team puts together a deep line-up of interviewees for each season of the podcast (they’re on season 9 now, so they have some experience!). Topics range from reading with toddlers, to exploring the world of fantasy literature, to developing high school curricula, and more.
This most recent episode, #50, was ostensibly about building upon picture books with simple and natural projects for young children, but what stood out the most to me was the emphasis on connection with your children, and using the books and the projects as a means to that end. The guest, Jennifer Pepito, said among other things that
I feel like connecting with our kids is probably the best antidote to any of the social ills that people struggle with… when kids aren’t well-attached to their parents, they’re not interested in carrying on the values of their families. Projects serve as a starting point for that attachment.
We get so busy with the planning and the researching that a lot of the time that we could be connecting with our kids is lost. Your kids are really better off having you look them in the face and chat with them about what they’re doing… they’re better off having you than all the fancy ideas.
I am definitely guilty of being an obsessive researcher and planner; I get lost in the world of my ideas, too wrapped up thinking about what I could do with the boys that I lose the time I have with them in the present. So it was a really good reminder to me to hear this veteran homeschooling mom say that no matter how good a project is, if it requires you to spend a whole day researching, planning, and preparing, it’s made you lose a whole day of connecting, a whole day of spending time with your children, a whole day of showing them just how valuable and precious they are to you – and that’s just not worth it.
In the end, what I took away from this episode was that it’s better to just read good books together, and play the simple pretend games or do the basic activities that naturally spring from the stories, than to make everything as perfect and wonderful as possible, because nothing can replace the love and connection you have with your children. And that is something I can totally get behind 🙂