Cherishing Childhood

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I believe in the dreaming, playing, exploring, learning time of life called childhood.

Snap the Whip by Winslow Homer, 1872. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Christian A. Zabriskie, 1950.

I am of the “why rush it” school of parenting. I figure the time for childhood is when kids are, well, children. The apostle Paul said:

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child,
think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man,
I did away with childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11

I can imagine Paul as a precocious youngster, but even Paul had a childhood — a precious childhood, and when that was done he then became a man.

Sometimes homeschooling mamas are tempted to get in a hurry. They mistakenly think that just because their child is capable of doing something, they should go ahead and start it. Maybe . . . but maybe not.

It is particularly tempting to let children grow up too quickly once they reach the preteen years. Personally I don’t like the terms preschooler or preteen. Why do children have to be pre-something? Let children be three or four or eleven or twelve without talking like they are in some kind of inferior age group waiting to be the real thing–a schooler or a teen!

Giving children the opportunity to do things usually reserved for older children can be good in some circumstances—maybe. In other circumstances, it is devastating. Just because a child is ready for something academically doesn’t mean that he is ready socially, emotionally, or most importantly, spiritually.

Here is an extreme example of what I mean: Just because an early-reading four-year-old is capable of spending her whole day reading books about the Holocaust, should she do that instead of playing with her dolls and toy kitchen? Here is a more common example: Just because a fourteen-year-old is capable of doing college classes, should he do that, instead of spending time with his parents and siblings and playing with Legos® and going on family trips? Sometimes perhaps, but certainly not in every circumstance.

This is how the book of Mark describes what happened when Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter:

And taking the child by the hand,
He said to her, “Talitha, kum!”
(which translated means,
“Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ).
Mark 5:41

The text tells us that she was 12 years old. This “little girl” was twelve. I like that. I wonder what she played that afternoon.

There is a time to be a child and a time to be grown up. Homeschooling gives children a wonderful opportunity to do those in the right order and for the right length of time. God created childhood and adulthood. He wants us to grow up and be mature adults, but He also wants us always to keep the innocent heart of a child.

Thank you for cherishing childhood. What a once-in-a-lifetime privilege that is for your children—and for you.

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every matter under heaven . . .
Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

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