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5 Signs That Your Kid is Already Burned Out on School

The first day of school was an exciting time for me. I remember loading up my new backpack with all my fresh school supplies, carefully choosing my outfit, and heading off to meet the bus first thing in the morning on that fateful day. However, I was a different kid a few weeks later. The drudgery of schooling set in quickly and it wasn’t long before my optimism faded, faced with the day-to-day reality of public education. Like I was, your child may already be burned out on school after only a couple of weeks. Here are five signs to look for:

  1. You’re already arguing over homework.

Did you know that the average high school assigns 3.5 hours of homework every night? If students are supposed to study for their classes and do homework, that’s pretty much the entire evening swallowed up by schoolwork, after already spending an entire day in the classroom. And who is supposed to make sure that the student dutifully sits down and completes their 3.5 hours of homework? The parents, of course. This dynamic, putting parents in the role of enforcer for the school, can put strain on even the happiest family relationship – and it happens all the time. If you and your kids are already arguing over finishing homework, this may be a sign that school is stressing them out.

  1. School stomachache is on the rise.

We’ve all done it –faked an illness to get out of school, though usually not with as much success as Ferris Bueller. If your student is only a couple of weeks into school you may not have experienced the “school stomachache” yet, but then again you may have.  Does your kid complain of tummy troubles every Monday-Friday and yet are miraculously healed on the weekends? Scientists say that anxiety may be to blame. Rather than pretending to be sick, students may be experiencing real stomach pain, along with a whole host of other anxiety-related symptoms.

  1. “Fine” is the only answer you get.

At the end of a long day all I want to do is gather the family together and reconnect, but when we sit down around the table my teenage daughter is silent and withdrawn. “How was your day?” I ask, hoping to thaw her chilly exterior. “Fine.” That is the only answer I will get tonight, no matter how much I poke and prod. Some of this can be chalked up to unknowable teenage behavior, but school must still bear part of the blame. In this country schooling is not optional and seeing the inevitability of their situation some students simply shut down. They are determined to keep going and “get through” their schooling years, and as a result many withdraw, becoming unrecognizable from the dynamic, energetic kids we knew not so long ago.

  1. Consumption of video games / TV is higher than usual.

When things in life are difficult, we all need an escape. Personally, I know that things are out of alignment when I spend an entire afternoon sitting on the couch and binge-watching a show on Netflix that I don’t even like, or remember. It’s a red flag to me when I want to turn my brain off, and the same thing happens to kids. If you find your child is suddenly invested in video games to the exclusion of all other life functions, this may be a sign that they are burned out and just trying to recharge. Same goes for the binge-watching I mentioned earlier – if your kid is perpetually vegged out from the moment they get home, they may be trying to recover from school-related stress.

  1. You’re Googling articles like this one.

Trust me, I’ve been in the same position you are right now. Maybe it seemed like things would be different this year – a new school, better teachers, a zero-tolerance bullying policy – and yet here you are, looking for answers.

I’m here to tell you that there is hope. Suspend your disbelief for a moment when I tell you that there is another alternative to the daily grind of traditional schooling, one that produces happy, healthy, focused individuals who know what they want and can figure out how to get it. I’m talking about a school that your child will be excited to attend and will come home at the end of the day bursting with stories of their own accomplishments.

I’m talking about Alpine Valley School. We see things differently here, and have decades of research to back up our educational model. If you’re ready for a change, and want something different for your family, please call us today to schedule a tour. Our knowledgeable staff members will answer all your questions as well as showing you around our campus. If you’re looking for stories of our successful graduates, look no further than our new podcast.

If your child is already burned out from school after a couple of weeks, isn’t it time to consider a change? Check out Alpine Valley School – I know you, and your family, will be glad that you did.

Missa Gallivan is an Alpine Valley School graduate and staff member. She is also the mother of a future AVS student (in about four years) and step-parent to two amazing teenagers.  She is also the host of the Alpine Valley School Podcast, available on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Counter Culture

When I started as a student back in 1999 (I see you doing the math in your head – stop it!) one of the most intriguing aspects of Alpine Valley School was the notion that I could participate in the process of creating law. I must admit that, at first, I went a little mad with power. The idea that I, as an individual, could submit to School Meeting any motion that struck my fancy was just too tempting for an individual who had felt marginalized and unimportant for so long.

After a period of contemplating (if not actually submitting) motions which would declare me Grand Empress of the school and institute a hefty tax upon my citizens, I realized the real-world implications of my power in this democracy. I didn’t have to simply complain about anything any more! If I didn’t like something, such as a law preventing me from initiating a snowball fight, all I would have to do is submit a motion to remove it and – poof! – problem solved.

Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. I forgot that in addition to submitting a motion to School Meeting I would also have to get my fellow School Meeting Members to vote in favor of such a change. So, it was up to me to not only propose the change itself, but to rally support for it. While on the surface that might seem arduous and more than your average teenager might willingly undertake, it turned out to be surprisingly empowering.

More recently, the students at Alpine Valley School used their own influence to push through a controversial measure which would allow sitting on the kitchen counters. Along with standing and the resting of feet, sitting on the kitchen counters has long been prohibited as part of a hygiene-related School Meeting law. However, a determined group of students submitted a motion to change only the sitting portion of the law and rallied support from within the community arguing that clothing-clad bottoms are significantly less dirty than their shoes and, indeed, in some cases, even cleaner than hands.

While not everyone in the community was in favor of the measure (coughLarrycough) the students rallied enough support from School Meeting members that their resolution eventually passed and the law was amended to allow sitting on the countertops. As you can see from the picture, they celebrated their victory immediately and well. As you might also notice from the picture, they were very, very pleased with themselves.

In my experience as both a student and a staff member at Alpine Valley School I have found that there is something almost magical about discovering your own agency as an individual. No more are you at the whims of the world around you; at any point you can stand up and correct what you feel needs changing. Sometimes you get your butt kicked, and sometimes you prevail, but the important thing is that you tried something. The more such experiences you have, the more you start to take on additional challenges and the world becomes an exponentially better place. So, while sitting on countertops may not seem like all that big a deal, the independence and responsibility it signifies from our students is powerful stuff indeed.

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Missa Gallivan is an Alpine Valley School graduate and staff member. She is also the mother of a future AVS student (in about four years) and step-parent to two amazing teenagers.

Interested in finding out more about Alpine Valley School? Schedule a one-hour tour! You can call us at 303-271-0525 or email at info@alpinevalleyschool.com

Trusting Our Children, Trusting Ourselves

My son is fifteen months old and he just now started to walk. Despite repeated assertions from trained  professionals that he should be walking at eleven months old, or twelve months at the latest, he still wasn’t. And even I, a graduate of Alpine Valley School and a champion of individual freedoms, got worried. The questions and doubts seemed unavoidable: Was I the problem? Could I be doing something wrong? Should I be pushing him harder? Buying more toys that encourage walking? It was maddening.

I don’t know any parent who hasn’t experienced this sort of conundrum with any number of milestones that we are supposed to be checking off our “My Child is Okay” list. We feel responsible for our children from the time they come into the world and with that duty in mind it is so easy to get sucked into hyper-vigilance and mindlessly pushing our kids towards those things that we feel they need to be doing. However, it has been our experience in 50 years of Sudbury schooling that children do better in life, and our relationships with our kids are better, if we simply trust and let them be.

Magda Gerber, creator of REI and early childhood development specialist, puts it this way: “I have spent my adult life trying to figure out why parents and society put themselves into a race — what’s the hurry? I keep trying to convey the pleasure every parent and teacher could feel while observing, appreciating and enjoying what the infant is doing. This attitude would change our educational climate from worry to joy.”

With this in mind I created my own mantra: “Everything in its own time,” which I repeated silently to myself whenever worries about my son’s walking arose. It didn’t completely eliminate the concerns, but it helped me to cultivate the environment of trust and patience that is my ideal. And then, on Christmas morning, my son took his honest-to-goodness first steps and it felt like an outright miracle. He did it entirely on his own, without me pushing, encouraging, guiding, or demonstrating, and when those little unsteady steps unfolded his face lit up with pride and satisfaction.

I see this same experience with our students at Alpine Valley School. When children undertake a challenge entirely on their own they are able to reap the psychological rewards of their success and the opportunities that stem from failure. They can ask for help when they need it and, of course, we will be happy to assist them, but the ultimate ownership for their accomplishment is on their shoulders. Having experienced this kind of freedom firsthand I can tell you it’s powerful stuff. It starts when children are little, to be sure, but the culture of trust we have at school and in the families that support us lasts a lifetime. For me, the trust in myself I learned as a student at Alpine Valley School around me has become a fundamental part of who I am and now I’m getting to pass it on to my own child in my own way.

Now if only he would learn to talk! (Just kidding.)

Missa Gallivan is an Alpine Valley School graduate and staff member. She is also the mother of a future AVS student (in about four years) and step-parent to two amazing teenagers. 

Interested in finding out more about Alpine Valley School? Schedule a one-hour tour! You can call us at 303-271-0525 or email at info@alpinevalleyschool.com 

Answers from an AVS Alum

A few days ago a Sudbury parent posed a question on a message board for families involved in alternative schooling. One of our own alumni, Jesse Alford, responded with the following insightful message.

Here is a shortened version of the question posed on the message board:

How does the Sudbury model encourage learning, which is based on focused repetition? And how do children learn when they aren’t intrinsically motivated to do so? Good teachers often inspire motivation to learn, but how to children learn to do this on their own? 

Here is Jesse’s response:

I’m not a sudbury parent, but I am a sudbury alum. For context, I’m a deeply satisfied (apparently effective) adult with a lucrative tech job. I didn’t go to college, and I didn’t do anything that was too repetitious to seem like a good idea – a rule that has continued to serve me well into adulthood and professional life. I played a lot of video games, spent a lot of time with building toys (to include blocks, the sandbox, and the minds of my friends), and wandered around outside with tiny toy spaceships making spaceship noises. (Actually, I still do all of these things to some extent.) I will admit I require a robot to do my vacuuming, because there is no other way it is going to get done to the extent necessary to keep up with the three cats and a dog I live with. But, I have such a robot, and so, pass as an effective adult.

I’ve seen many systems that create an ongoing dependency to cover some perceived short-term deficiency. The team that requires someone else to test their software, because they do not have the skills and resources to test it thoroughly and early enough themselves. The codebase that keeps using a bad way of doing things because it got the project up and running early, even though it severely limits the approaches the team can take to refactoring in the future. The call center that relies more and more on automated break and lunch scheduling algorithms because it “improves coverage,” ultimately at the cost of employees being able to respond to change and disruptions.

 

The learning system wherein learners are “exposed” to a variety of Appropriate Topics for Study at the expense of their own drive to forage for intellectual fulfillment.

 

These are all forms of debt, long term accumulated deficiencies in ability that have to be payed off at some point. Debt can be used responsibly, but what are you purchasing when you mortgage the effervescent curiosity of a child? And, how do you expect the natural curiosity of children to survive being held for years as inactive collateral to finance a parade of artificially constructed lessons?

 

If you do something for someone, they depend on you for it. If you attempt to synthesize curiosity and interest for long enough, it takes years to recover; some never do. There may possibly be times when this is appropriate, but…

 

Do you want to discover the world for your child?
Jesse Alford is an Alpine Valley School alum. You can follow him on twitter at @JesseTAlford. If you want to read additional selections of his writing check out Articulated Thinking. 

Little Scratches

In a talk on education, one of my heroines used the image of someone being “bled to death by a thousand small scratches.” This image sticks with me, because in 25 years of teaching I have seen firsthand many such scratches inflicted on both children and adults—many people who have been, essentially, bled to death by the system.

What have I actually seen? I’ve seen children who shut down because they were called names in front of the class. I’ve seen kids who dropped out of school because they couldn’t submit to giving public speeches. I’ve seen kids stop asking questions because one too many teachers used the “teachable moment” to force their  ideas onto students. In all these cases, children are powerless to defend themselves from small (or not so small) scratches.

With our foundation of freedom and responsibility, little scratches don’t lead to long-term harm at Alpine Valley School: on the contrary, we allow young people to grow into the strong and independently minded adults you can see in our graduates. Given the amount of active, physical play AVS students enjoy (in stark contrast to most other schools), nearly every day one kid or another bumps up against life, either literally or figuratively.

Let me be clear, though: our emphasis on responsibility means it’s not a free-for-all. For example, the  School Meeting Lawbook includes the following:

  • Activities that present a danger to anyone’s personal safety are prohibited.

  • No one may knowingly infringe on anyone’s right to exist peaceably at school, free of verbal or physical harassment.

  • Running, moving recklessly and/or roughhousing are not permitted in the building.

Nonetheless,  kids at AVS get to experience life’s inevitable scratches. What do they learn from these? With the literal variety, they learn things like:

  • I am fully capable of handling this.

  • Cold packs are good to have around.

  • Wasp stings hurt – but the pain eventually goes away.

  • How to know when to get someone’s help.

  • When someone’s hurt, the game is put on hold.

Then there are the figurative scratches—hurt feelings, no one to play with, realizing you signed up for four chores and there’s five minutes left to do them, or learning that you’re responsible for your own feelings, actions, and life. What do AVS students learn from these?

  • Friendships are a process of give and take.

  • Being lonely is often only temporary.

  • Asking for help or for more time can make an overwhelming task manageable.

In closing, I want to dwell on the special case of those lucky souls who’ve grown up as AVS “lifers”—that is, all (or nearly all) of their educational life has been spent with us. In their last year at Alpine Valley School, as these young adults embark on our intensive graduation process, an interesting thing happens. All the little things they’ve gone through in their lives—what might be viewed as scratches—suddenly coalesce into a feeling of calm confidence. “Yes, I can take on the world. Yes, I want to leave this loving environment for the great unknown, because I know that I can safely and successfully take it on.”

It’s by being allowed to experience life’s small scratches this way—naturally finding the line where freedom meets responsibility, where individual desires bump up against physical and social limits—that these students are able to grow up healthy, intact, and fully prepared for the larger world. Do you know any children who deserve this kind of opportunity? Contact us today and schedule a tour!

Larry Welshon is a founder and staff member at Alpine Valley School. He is also the proud parent of two AVS graduates.

Responsible For Their Lives

One of my favorite authors and someone whose work has beneficially impacted my life is Brene Brown, a research professor and social scientist. She writes, lectures and gives workshops about what she has learned in her research on vulnerability, authenticity and worthiness and what an important part they play in living a wholehearted life. (Brene defines wholehearted as the capacity to engage in our lives with authenticity, cultivate courage and compassion, and embrace the imperfections of who we really are.)

In her latest book, Rising Strong, The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution, Brene shares personal stories from a variety of people, including herself, of bravely daring, failing and falling down and the courage and hard work it takes to get back up – rising strong. It is while arising from the fall that we make up stories around the feelings which come up, such as shame, blame, disappointment and resentment. If we can lean into the discomfort of these feelings, we can move from our first defensive responses to a deeper understanding of who we are and how we engage with others, the opportunity to become wholehearted. As one Amazon review of Brene’s book stated, “We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we’re feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives.”

Wouldn’t it be advantageous if we had the liberty to learn these skills before adulthood, while still a child? Here at Alpine Valley School, our students have the daily opportunity to wrestle with the stories they make up when they get angry, sad, or upset about a person or situation. Their first instinct may be to blame someone or something else when things don’t go their way or they are written up for breaking a rule, but by observing that all School Meeting members make mistakes, they come to realize that “falling down” is part of learning about themselves, part of growing up.

One of the things Brene Brown does so well is reference the wisdom and insights of other authors and weave them into her storytelling. One of my favorites, which I think supports our model of education, is a quote from Jungian analyst James Hollis’ book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, “Perhaps Jung’s most compelling contribution is the idea of individuation, that is, the lifelong project of becoming more nearly the whole person we were meant to be – what the gods intended, not the parents, or the tribe, or especially the easily intimidated or the inflated ego. While revering the mystery of others, our individuation summons each of us to stand in the presence of our own mystery, and become more fully responsible for who we are in this journey we call our life.”

Hollis eloquently sums up what unfolds in the lives of Alpine Valley School students – the opportunity to become responsible for their lives. Want to find out more about us and how AVS may benefit your child? Send us an email or call us at 303-271-0525 and set up a one-hour tour. We look forward to meeting you!

Connie Cook is a staff member at Alpine Valley School and the parent of three AVS graduates. She is currently the Registrar and the main contact for all families interested in enrollment.

The Power of Being Seen

When I enrolled as a student in Alpine Valley School I was fourteen years old and was convinced that I was a friend-repellent. Hard as I had tried to make close friends during my years in traditional schooling it never quite worked out. I always ended up spending time with the other misfits, the oddballs who didn’t fit in and even then it turned out we were unique in non-complementary ways. I felt that, aside from my parents, there was no one in the world who truly understood me. It was an isolating and sorrowful feeling.

However, after a few weeks at Alpine Valley School things really shifted for me. I found a group of friends, small but tight, who had similar interests as I did and pushed myself outside my comfort zone with games like laser tag and capture the flag. I wasn’t necessarily “fitting in” because there was no mold in which we were all trying to conform – we were just a group of kids being ourselves. Lo and behold, there were people that actually LIKED who I was. In addition, I had a group of caring adults who saw me and encouraged my self-discovery. I wanted to be helpful and so they let me lend a hand with things like creating promotional materials and speaking at school events.

I don’t remember any specific moment of clarity or “bolt from the blue” when it hit me that I was truly being seen and accepted for just who I was; rather it seemed that all of this acceptance was slowly sinking in. Over time I became more confident, more willing to speak my mind and this skill extended beyond the school day and into my professional life after I graduated.

Now that I’m back at Alpine Valley School, this time as a staff member, I see other students walking through a similar experience to my own. They show up identifying themselves as “weirdos” or “loners” and over time find that they are folded into the vibrant school community as an equal – deserving of respect and attention. It’s a powerful experience and I’m so glad that Alpine Valley School exists  to provide the power of being seen for multiple generations – and more to come!

 

Missa Gallivan is an Alpine Valley School graduate and staff member. She is also the mother of a future AVS student (in about four years) and step-parent to two amazing teenagers. 

Interested in finding out more about Alpine Valley School? Schedule a one-hour tour! You can call us at 303-271-0525 or email at info@alpinevalleyschool.com 

Successful Struggles

In a striking passage near the end of Daring Greatly, Brené Brown addresses the topic of helicopter parenting, emphasizing both the difficulty and the necessity of letting kids struggle:

There seems to be growing concern on the part of parents and teachers that children are not learning how to handle adversity or disappointment because we’re always rescuing and protecting them. It’s not that our children can’t stand the vulnerability of handling their own situations, it’s that we can’t stand the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure, even when we know it’s the right thing to do. I no longer see rescuing and intervening as unhelpful; I now think about it as dangerous. Don’t get me wrong—I still struggle and I still step in when I shouldn’t, but I now think twice before I let my discomfort dictate my behaviors. Here’s why: Hope is a function of struggle. If we want our children to develop high levels of hopefulness, we have to let them struggle. And let me tell you, next to love and belonging, I’m not sure I want anything more for my kids than a deep sense of hopefulness.

Reading this, I was reminded of the story  about a butterfly greatly harmed by someone’s well-intentioned help. Here’s the version told by writer Paulo Coehlo:

A man spent hours watching a butterfly101589666_1e7ba141cd struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.

The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing it. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.

The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened: in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shrivelled wings, incapable of flight.

What the man—out of kindness and his eagerness to help—had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.

There’s an inherent paradox in raising children, a basic, unavoidable dilemma: they enter the world completely dependent, while our goal is to help them become independent. Time and again, over the course of many years, we’re pulled in opposite directions in wanting to do what’s best for the young people in our care.

When it comes to letting kids struggle, examples abound of taking it to an extreme, from letting the very young just “cry it out” to showing “tough love” later on. I don’t want to reduce this to a simplistic formula (“struggle good, rescue bad”) or a rant against helicopter parenting. For me, the question is how to find a middle ground between enabling or rescuing, on the one hand, and on the other, deeming it our job to dole out unpleasant, “character building” opportunities.

At Alpine Valley School, we believe that challenges and struggles aplenty arise on their own when you let young people live their own lives: there’s no need for (and, indeed, much harm in) inflicting scheduled, structured, arbitrary struggles on them in the name of “rigor” or “grit” or whatever the buzzword of the day might be. We also believe that growing up in a supportive, respectful community is a healthy, natural way to learn how to appreciate and cultivate a support network.

And so we trust kids to negotiate authentic struggles, in their own ways and at their own pace, even as we remind them that they have the power to do so. AVS students have the opportunity to confront difficulties on their own, and they have access to people of a wide range of ages and personalities when they want help. Staff members in particular are always developing our sense of when to offer an encouraging word and when to back off and allow students the time and space to find paths of their own.

Whether it’s a disagreement with a friend, the challenge of deciding what to do with their time, or any of the fears and frustrations we all encounter in our lives, I personally struggle to think of a better balance of freedom and support than what we offer here at Alpine Valley School. Yes, it can be very painful, even heartbreaking, to watch the young people we care for go through difficulties. Yet allowing them to grow into their own strength, naturally and powerfully, is truly the greatest support we can offer.

Bruce Smith is a substitute staff member at Alpine Valley School and founder of the organization Friends of Sudbury Schooling. 

The Cure for the Summertime Blues

We’re through our first month of summer, and already students are asking when the new school year is going to start. One AVS student recently complained to me, “Summertime is boring. There’s nothing happening!” While most students seem to share the sentiment that they wish summer would hurry by faster, many nonetheless find ways to engage themselves.

A significant number of Alpine Valley School students spend the summer working. For several years now, many of them have held summer jobs through Jefferson County improving and maintaining hiking trails throughout the Denver area. One of our recent graduates was promoted into a management position in this program and is spending her summer leading and supervising a crew of workers.

In addition, there is no shortage of summertime volunteers at Alpine Valley School. When called upon, students will frequently show up to help with such maintenance projects as cleaning, painting, and reorganizing storage areas. Last summer a number of them came to school for several days to construct our lovely new patio. We also host Help Days where students, parents, alumni and other friends of the school drop by and help us accomplish maintenance-related tasks that are needed throughout the building. In the coming school year we’ll be expending these events to include additional non-physical work such as marketing, organization, technical support, and much more. Please contact me at melissa@alpinevalleyschool.com if you are interested in joining us for the next Help Day!

As for the staff, many of us are working hard on projects we might otherwise be distracted from in the day-to-day hubbub of the school year. We frequently catch up on maintenance, marketing, and other tasks during the summertime so that we can have a fresh start at the beginning of the new school year. This is on top of day-to-day activities such as checking the mail, deep cleaning of the building, and generally gearing up for new bursts of activity in the fall.

How many schools do you know of where students complain that summer breaks are too long? To me, this is strong evidence that we’re offering families something of tremendous value. And yet there’s also value in having time away, time to relax, catch up, and explore new possibilities. While students suffering from “the summertime blues” may wish the school year would come around faster, Alpine Valley School’s summers off are a crucial change of pace for all of us.

Missa Gallivan is an Alpine Valley School graduate and staff member. She is also the mother of a future AVS student (in about four years) and step-parent to two amazing teenagers. 

Repost: Stop Trying to Make Everything Educational

We don’t often repost from external blogs, but this recent entry from Happiness is Here is exceptionally straightforward and insightful. An Australian homeschooler, Sara’s post speaks directly to what we at Alpine Valley School believe about natural learning environments. Many thanks to Sara for allowing us to share the following excerpt.

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Everywhere I look there’s themed worksheets and clever ideas for tricking your child into learning things you think they should learn with ‘fun’ activities. Firstly, we don’t need to make learning ‘fun’. Learning is fun. Children are born to learn and they love to learn. Everyone knows this. But when you start getting into the habit of trying to take over and control their learning it tends to lose its appeal. And then yeah, maybe you do have to trick them into it. It makes more sense to me not to get into that habit in the first place.

Secondly, children are not stupid. They know when you’re trying to disguise learning behind a ‘fun’ activity. They feel your hidden expectations and pressure. I don’t want to go down that road either. Personally I don’t think there’s ever a time for coercive learning but early childhood is especially not the time! There’s no rush right now, the most important thing is play. So let’s not do anything that may dampen that beautiful love of learning and innate curiosity so soon.

Children are constantly learning new things anyway; just because you might not be able to see it (or measure it), or it’s not something that’s traditionally ‘academic’ doesn’t mean it’s not there. Not all learning is that obvious or quantifiable. Maybe they’ll share it with you when they’re ready? Maybe they don’t want to? Do you want to share every little thing you learn with other people? Or are there some things you just keep to yourself? Is it even our right to constantly judge and test and evaluate? Can’t we just observe and trust? I think so.

Just have fun. Trust them, and trust that learning is happening all the time. There is no rush. Let them be little.

Note: Viewpoints expressed on all external links are those of the individuals involved in those sites and do not necessarily reflect those of Alpine Valley School or its students, staff, and families.