In Everyday Scholé this year, Chelli of The Planted Trees, Tonia of The Sunny Patch, and I are slowly working through Dr. Perrin’s list of 8 Essential Principles of Classical Education and discussing each one. These principles are vital for classical homeschoolers to understand and implement in our homeschools.
This month we’re discussing the principle of festina lente, which means make haste slowly.
Festina Lente: Make Haste Slowly
Make haste slowly. Let’s think about that for a moment. These days everyone is in a hurry.
We’re in a hurry to get our babies walking and talking. We’re in a hurry for them to learn the alphabet and to write their names. We’re in a hurry to get our preschoolers and kindergarteners to read, write, and do math.
We’re in a hurry to see our elementary kids grow up and have detailed discussions. We’re in a hurry to see our middle school kids do high school level work. We’re in a hurry to see our high school teens start college, turn into adults, and move out.
We’re in such a hurry to get on to the next stage that we forget to savor the now. To be honest does all this hurrying and pushing really get us ahead? We can push all we want, but babies don’t start talking or walking any earlier. We can’t rush our kids through basic math and into algebra with good results.
In our haste to move faster, get farther, and hurry to the next level we miss the beauty that surrounds us. We also forget that a classical education is more than just a checklist of to-do’s. It’s about mastery, beauty, virtue, and truth.A classical education is about more than just a checklist of to-do's.Click To Tweet
When we rush through life and our homeschool, we’re not able to savor the beauty of the moment. We’re too busy pushing to get the next task finished to enjoy the just completed task.
Let me ask you a few questions.
When was the last time you sat down to tea and cookies with your kids to discuss poetry or Shakespeare?
When was the last time you stopped school for a day to enjoy a long nature hike in the spring air.
When was the last time you stopped calculating the number of lessons before you complete the math textbook so you can move on to the next. After all, shouldn’t you start algebra in the 7th or 8th grades or your already behind the curve?
I’ll use math as an example. We’re in such a hurry to move on to the next lesson, the next chapter, and the next book that we forget mastery is the goal. We race ahead. The kids suddenly hit a road block. They don’t understand, they’re struggling with the concepts.
We moved so fast that the kids never mastered the lessons. We need to go back and review.
That’s what I did with my oldest kids when they were learning to read. We completed one page of Phonics Pathways every single day. It didn’t matter about the tears or bribing. We finished that page.
Inevitably the kids would come to a point where they struggled until I’d give up and go back a couple of months in order to review material the children should have mastered the first time through. I thought of it as the two steps forward, one step back approach.
What’s fascinating is that my youngest daughter and I are taking our time. We’re only completing a third of a page a day before practicing reading elsewhere. She has the time she needs to master the material. We haven’t needed to go back and review old material.
Festina Lente: Make Haste Slowly struck again. We’re making better and more comfortable progress just by moving at a snail’s pace than my older children and I did by racing through the pages.
What I’m trying to say is to gently move at your child’s pace not society’s pace.
Finish the textbook completely before moving on to the next one. Give your children time to master the concepts. Don’t be afraid to spend extra time on a topic a child is fascinated by or struggling with.
Get rid of the timetables of education. Pack them up and throw them away. Instead concentrate on teaching your child today. Master the math concepts. Write a paper. Read some books. Recite poetry. Study Latin. Just keep moving and doing the next thing. You’ll enjoy your homeschool and make better progress than by constantly rushing to the next stage.
Make Festina Lente: Make Haste Slowly a central principle of your homeschool.
Don’t miss Tonia and Chelli’s posts on festina lente: