Adventures Beyond Our Comfort Zone

How to Raise Stress Free Kids

How to Raise Stress Free Kids

Can you raise stress free kids or raise kids without stress?  

Well probably not, but you can sure raise them without all the current drama and angst.

 

We have hit that stage where all our friends, family members and acquaintances are putting their kids in school or extracurricular activities.  Now for some, this is simply a transition from daycare to preschool or preschool to kindergarten. But  we have been able to keep our kids home.

There is so much pressure on this current generation concerning education.

We now have programs to teach 2-3 year olds to read.  This led to accelerated programs for the gifted tot and bizarrely “remedial” programs for the “slow” kids.  If that was not enough we now offer computer coding classes for 6-7 year olds.  Not to forget the sports leagues for the tiny kids who have barely mastered running. Despite the fact that they cannot tie  their own shoes parents expect them to be the next MVP.   

 

The theme is the same whether you are opting for public or private schools. And when you are not in the normal school year there are the summer camps!

 

Summer camps are nothing new but it’s much less about kids getting out and having fun in a safe environments as it is about propelling them to academic greatness.  We have science camps, band camps, music film and arts camps, and you name it they have it camps.

 

The big kicker is if you opt out of the system there is sense that you are not giving your kids what they need to succeed! 

So let’s rewind history a minute.  The education system we know is relatively new. Education as we know it today was born during the Industrial Revolution. Both parents were forced to work, in this case to survive, not electively.  Kids for the first time in history were left completely to their own devices. As any parent knows, that is how you create a disaster. Kids making trouble led to two outcomes, one was “justified” child labor and second a system of education.

Fortunately, labor laws eventually restricted child labor.  But the “modern” education system was born.  The system was designed to prepare productive workers.  Education was by no means new, remember, colleges had been around a very long time. Oxford predates the Aztec empire by more than 200 yrs.  What was new was the age children started and systematization of education.

 

Brief Historical Tangent Warning (feel free to skip to the next paragraph)

People were educated prior to this, of course, that was what guilds were.  Not to mention parents usually trained their kids in their occupation.  A shop owner would likely raise a shop owner or trade with the blacksmith and cross apprentice if their kids had aptitude in another direction.

Well, you might say, that is not true education! I have to responses.  One, how is that different then what we do today? How many times has someone scoffed at a liberal arts major as not being useful? The other is that many of the trades required complex skills in math or science.

Some research indicates that literacy may actually have been much higher than typically thought. Print did not come along until the 1500s so everything had to be hand written but even still  churches often had a bible available in the church which could be accessed by the laity. And a brief sampling of architecture will show you that these artisans had a pretty advanced knowledge of math, science and history (much of which transmitted verbally) 

Monasteries and Convents were usually the repository and centers of higher learning due in large part by the fact that the monks/nuns did not have family responsibilities.  This allowed them to to study herbs and medicine, print manuscripts and speculate on philosophy and brew awesome beer.  

What has this to do with kids and education today, well I went on a tangent cuz what’s the point of an expensive degree without being able to digress

 

The point is that modern education is relatively new and it puts a considerable emphasis on molding kids younger and younger to fit a subjective standard.

 

All this hullabaloo is creating frazzled parents who hate their cars and are anxious for these kids to be finally out of their hair.   But what does it do to the kids? Well, physiologists are still conducting research and it is conflicting. Currently we believe this is the way to raise successful children. There are a few voices out there that are saying the opposite, such as Dr. David Elkind. He believes that this hurried method of education is only producing stressed and essentially vulnerable adults.

 

National education levels are down and College attendance is dropping.

So what has our current education system produced? Well comparisons in world wide rankings are not particularly good, see link (http://www.oecd.org/pisa/). The education level in the US is dropping significantly Globally.

High parental support and involvement results in more successful kids regardless of the activity.

From the psychiatric journals on child development I have perused it appears that parental involvement is more important than the actual activity.  Low parental involvement equaled less overall success despite the program

 

Now here is my theory, kids that have parents that put them in all these activities and accelerated learning programs are the parents that are involved in their kids  education. Therefore, If the kid is successful its for that reason alone and has little to do with the activities themselves.

If the millennial generation is an indicator of success, it appears that all the early education and pre-pre school has produced is kids that are socialized into ingesting Tide Pods.

 

If my hypothesis is correct, I can forgo all the taxing, stressful activities that make modern parenting impossible. I can just have fun with my kids.

 

I cannot control what happens to my kids once they leave home, what I can provide is a happy childhood, like mine was.  If you do that, as long as you teach them to be responsible they will be fine. Stress in our family came from what life dished out, not what we self imposed.

My mom’s approach had a pretty relaxed approach  to homeschooling and we were pretty cooperative, probably because she was like a partner in crime.

 Instead of saying hey kids we are going on a field trip, she would say, hey we are playing hooky today, who wants to sneak away to the zoo! And yes occasionally we would sneak away to someplace non educational, but we did it together.

 

We did not have a cram packed schedule, we were not in every extracurricular activity heck we did the minimum. That does not mean we did not work hard, just smarter. My parents encouraged us when we wanted to try new things, and explore different venues.  Somewhere in the mix we learned with enough adequacy all the subjects that would prepare us for the real world

 

Despite the perceived  “disadvantage” of not following the mainstream overall we have been successful academically.

There are 10 in my family and so far,  three have graduated from a private University with honors.  The rest are either in college or pursuing careers or both, with the exception of our special needs brother and the “baby” who is enjoying his high school days.  All are on the deans list or honor roll in their respective programs.  

 

You have two options.  You can worry endlessly about which programs  give your kids a leg up in the world or take a deep breath and let your kids be kids

In other words, live in the car  6-7 days a week or enjoy your kids childhood, your choice. 

 

Well that’s enough of that I think I’m gonna go make a furniture fort and watch Bugs Bunny with my four year old.  Y’all have fun at soccer practice!

 



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