Learning to Let Children Be

I often feel like I’ve stumbled through the past 8 years of parenting.  There have been so many ups and down and boy, have I had a LOT of lessons to learn. I’m still learning them daily.  But there’s a few that stick out as ‘life changers’ in my mind, and this is one of them-

I’ve learned, when they are engaged in something positive, children need to be left alone.

 

As a homeschooling Mom, I live this philosophy every single day.  To be clear, I’m not talking about leaving them to do ‘nothing’ for hours on end.  This is about spending lots of time engaging with the children and learning along side them but then, being in tune with when they are happily engaged with play, work, learning and exploration on their own.  And in that awareness,  choosing to let them be as they are.  If they are engaged, enlightened, naturally content and learning independently, I “Let Them Be”.  And in our home, sometimes this takes place for hours.  For hours they will build Legos.  For hours they will draw pictures.  For hours they will read.  For hours they will play with Playmobil.  And yes, we let them.

It’s in those times when they are actively engaged in their own learning that they come up with the most incredible things.  Ideas flow like rivers and imaginations run wild and free.  Sometimes, it doesn’t look like learning, but then, they show me over and over again just how beneficial those times of creativity and independence are for them.

Holt Quote

Our days are not scheduled for us.  We have a task list but no set hour by hour schedule.  Just the other day, our son was busy building a Solar Power Car from a Science Kit he’d received.  The problem was, he was building it at the same time I really wanted him to complete his Math.  I was just about to interrupt him when I realized he WAS doing Math.  He was engineering a car.  I left him alone and we accomplished the ‘book’ Math later in the day once he’d accomplished the task of the car.

Another example is our daughter.  She will make up stories with her dolls and stuffed animals for hours.  I don’t stop her.  I let her explore and create and make believe.  Children just don’t have enough time to ‘mess about’ these days, as John Holt put it, and I want ours to have plenty of time to do what children do best – just be.

Our life is incredibly peaceful for a family with three young children.  We have our days, but for the most part, I’m amazed.  Our children are wonderful independent learners and thinkers.  Just like everyone, we’re all a work in progress but I can’t over communicate what ‘letting them be’ has done for our us!

Some of the Benefits of ‘Letting them Be':

  • Respects the child’s interests and ability to self-teach
  • Brings more peace into the home
  • Builds concentration skills and nurtures the habit of attention
  • Leaves room for authentic learning to take place
  • Allows time for creativity to grow and develop
  • Infuses the child’s day with a relaxed, anti-rush atmosphere
  • Give Mom time to breathe and accomplish tasks

The only thing I wanted to add is this – there is one exception to the concept of letting children be.  Media time.  I don’t believe children should have free reign on screens and media devices.  That is one activity we always interrupt when the time is up!  (We allow no more than about 15 minutes of screen time daily).

 Let’s encourage our children to engage in active play and

independent learning and then watch how they develop and grow!

Big hugs and blessings to you!

Cassandra

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Comments

  1. Jelli says

    Great parenting tip! I find that I like to be engaged with my daughter a little too much, but didn’t realize it until recently. In the past 3 months both my mother and my mother-in-law stayed with my family of 4 for about 3 weeks each. Both womens’ parenting style reflected by their interactions with my kids, especially my toddler daughter were like night and day. My m-i-l was more of a sit back and watch them play kind of grandma while my mom was constantly in motion, chattering, laughing, and engaging my little girl. I could clearly see that my husband and I parented just like our moms. A middle ground was clearly the answer, but I know that I need to take your advice and let my daughter explore the world a little more on her own, especially in the safety of our home. THANK YOU!

    • Cassandra Dorman says

      :) Thank you, for sharing. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that you love to engage with your daughter!!! That’s a blessing to her. I think it’s, like you said, finding the balance – right? When she’s happy to explore and play quietly, you can let her and she will be confident in your love for her as she learns along side you and also independently. :) Xo

  2. Jackie says

    Thank you for this; I have felt this way for awhile but always felt like I need to explain why I like my kids play . . . this reaffirmed for me that I DO know what I’m doing :-)

  3. Lisha says

    I needed to read this post!! I have a daughter who loses herself in Legos for hours, and I struggle often with “do I stop her?” Thanks for setting my mind a little more at ease!

    I can’t see the link-up…do you have any thoughts about what could be going on? I’d love to join in! Thank you :)

    ~Lisha

    • Lisha says

      Thank you!! I checked back and everything was just fine! Thank you for hosting this link-up – it’s so encouraging :)

    • Cassandra Dorman says

      No problem! I mind was the same for years until I really realized how much I needed to let go. Also, a lot of Charlotte Mason’s teachings helped me realize that ‘letting them be’ was actually healthy for children. :)

  4. says

    Hi, I can’t find the linky either. But I loved this post and am going to copy and paste some notes into my personal journal. Thanks Cassndra for great advice. :)

  5. says

    I agree with you, as mothers we seem to want to hold on to them in fear. But like every other thing, when we commit them to God He takes care, and He is a far better parent than anyone of us can ever be. Thanks Cassandra!
    And thanks Ruth for hosting us again!

  6. Laura says

    Both of my kids are enjoying their school holiday today and have been busy playing cars for over an hour. Just before I read this, I was wondering if I should take them to the park or engage them in another “more productive” activity. Thank you for reminding me that their creative free play is just as important as many of their other structured activities. I don’t think their generation gets enough time to just be kids.

  7. Dana says

    Even though I don’t homeschool my three children (ages 7,7 & 2) I strongly believe in allowing them plenty of time for play, creativity, and using their imaginations. I have struggled with feeling like I should structure their time a bit more, but this article reinforces my gut feeling on this topic, so thank you! I’m wondering what you do, Cassandra, for making sure some things like chores and clean up is accomplished in a timely, non-nagging manner? I always hate to stop them than when they’re really going strong in playing or drawing, but there has to be a balance in teaching about responsibilities as well. Thanks so much for a wonderful, thought-provoking article.

    • Cassandra Dorman says

      Hmm… this would assume the kids actually DO chores? (hehe) Well, I usually wait until they start getting bored and aren’t engaged in either lessons, play, art, etc. and then I suggest maybe it’s time to do some tidying up, etc. This tends to work well because their minds are actively seeking something ‘to do’. I can happily fill that void with dusting or putting toys away. :)

  8. Julie says

    This is excellent advise. I often struggle with when to end a math or writing session when the children are completely engaged. It’s difficult to interrupt a learning session that is obviously going extremely well. I should follow your advise more often. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Cassandra Dorman says

      Aw, thanks. Wow, yes!!! If they are engaged and happily learning, keep on going! :) Follow their lead, and you’ll rarely go wrong. (hug)

  9. Laurie Collett says

    Great advice! I used to love to make up stories & plays with my dolls for hours, and sing and dance to records of the latest musicals, and my mother let me do it uninterrupted! I think that experience helped foster my creativity and performing skills as an adult.
    Thanks for hosting & for the great post & God bless!
    Laurie
    http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/

    • Cassandra Dorman says

      Awesome. I was the same. I was a ‘single child’ until I was almost 9 and spent loads of time singing to myself, playing ‘school’ and ‘office’ and doing all kinds of imaginative things. :) Thanks for the comment. God bless you too.

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