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Home Grown Kids: Hurried Children part 2

October 27th, 2003 · 2 Comments

The same friend who recommended The Hurried Child , also wrote that I should read Raymond and Dorothy Moore’s Home Grown Kids , subtitled A Practical Handbook for Teaching Your Children at Home (looks like its now out of print). I confess I had a hard time getting through the first few chapters and this affected my respect for the book at the beginning. By the third chapter, the book has entered into the Steps in Parenthood section, starting at “Preparing for Birth”.

Perhaps it was pride. As a mother of three, I think that I feel confident about what I have learned and what I know to do as a mom. Or maybe it was guilt. I don’t like to learn that I have done things wrong as a parent. At the least, I had some disagreements with the Moores with parts of their advice for the first two years. Maybe that is because I have now raised 2, almost 3 children through these stages, so I have my own opinions and experience too!

For example, they recommend training a baby to sleep through the night by two or three weeks of age. Maybe I don’t know their definition of “through the night”, but I thought we have trained our children well and early enough to start sleeping through the night for 6 hours or more around 2 to 3 months. I would not have allowed any of our babies to sleep through the night at 2 weeks of age – not that they could do so anyway! And I disagree with the way they explain potty-training – to start with bowel movements around one year and do it gradually: I prefer to wait until age 2 or so and then potty-train completely all at once. There are different methodsf and opinions from mine, for sure. Guilt certainly was evoked by their recommendation that children be planned 3 years apart so that the child can have the most attention for those first three years. Our children are about 2 years apart from each other. I certainly hope I didn’t harm my children by having them closer together …anyway these feelings and disagreements affected my perspective on the book, until I got to the later chapters. Still I would say this is a good book with lots of ideas to consider and practical suggestions when raising children.

I have read other child-rearing and parenting books written from a Christian perspective that have been more heavy-handed with their application of faith, claiming to be the only right way. The Moores are Christians and believe in God, but I don’t feel that their faith is overwhelming or domineering, as they explain their beliefs about child-development.

This is a very practical book indeed. There are recipes for playdough and paint. There are nursery rhymes to sing and specific seeds to plant on the windowsill. Outdoor activities and exercises to try. Rhythmn games and simple toys (like old oatmeal boxes) to play. I appreciate all the ideas and suggestions. Helpful, creative and guiding. The conversations and experiences recounted here are encouraging too. The book is twenty years old, so there’s a lot about the staying-at-home-mom tension (much edgier then, I suspect) and the last chapter on homeschool laws is probably a bit out of date, but still an interesting read to learn how the legislation was created: why we have public schools that start early.

From putting these two books together though, the picture is clear: Young children need time and space for their abilities to develop and grow. While the character of a child is formed in the early years, he or she may not be able to do complicated skills, such as reading or violin playing, until much older. Hearing and seeing, perception and thinking are all still developing even in the primary grades, and school or other hurrying or stress can affect a child’s character and intelligence. The most important socialization a child receives is in relationships at home with family. Moores advocate keeping a child at home until the years of consistent rational reasoning are reached, around 8 – 10. Children given the time and space to mature easily catch up with their peers if and when they go to school at a later age.

After reading these books, I wondered why I was in such a rush with my own children. Why I had worried when Abigail had not started reading at 3 or 4 as Ted and I had done. What is the hurry? I want to let my girls enjoy their childhood. Reading these books has helped me relax and grow in confidence during the days I spend with my children. I felt encouraged, challenged, refreshed and strengthened in my convictions. We all have more freedom and fun together, more exploration and creativity, time to grow.

For example, I had been trying to teach Abigail to play the recorder. She seemed interested and I really wanted her to learn more music skills too. But Abigail got frustrated trying to learn the fingering and technique, crying and insisting on her own methods. After reading these books I realized that for now I should continue to enjoy music with her in simple ways: playing the recorder was something beyond her abilities at this time. Instead we play lots of children’s music and practice beats and rhythmns. Abigail and Michaela – and even Elisabeth – learn the lyrics and create their own dances. I play guitar and we all sing together, the girls playing their own tamborines, maracas and kazoos.

I also began wondering about my own childhood, how it was to be tested and labelled as “smart” at an early age – how in the hurrying it became my identity and security – and how it was to be surrounded for years (in special “enrichment” classes and then private schools) by peers who had the same experience. I remember a classmate of mine from high school telling me senior year that she had had an IQ of 180 at age 3. Yet, at graduation, although I didn’t know her well, I don’t think she was a top or straight A student. Even back then I wondered what was the point of IQ tests for 3 year olds – and how well does it hold up later in life?! It has taken me years to begin to see how I was hurried in various ways, and what affect it has had on me – yet, if I am not careful, I may repeat some of this in my own family, if I perpetuate the same attitudes and values.

The Hurried Child brings more of an academic perspective, more extended elaboration, chapters and chapters of examples from culture while Home Grown Kids has more hands-on suggestions and real-life situations. But I’d recommend that parents should read both books during the infant years, or even pregnancy, to consider the perspective, preparation and ideas offered. It would make good material for discussions between husband and wife! I know Ted and I enjoyed talking about these books, Hurried Child especially. Elkind helped fortify my perspective on society, including my reasons for being at home with my children, while the Moores gave me many ways to help my children develop and explore. Both books helped me see, understand and treasure early childhood for what it is, rather than trying to rush my children into adulthood, into activities and abilities they don’t yet have. One should read Hurried Child to open the eyes, and then read Home Grown Kids to get ideas on what to do during the days at home with the eyes now opened.

Tags: books

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Oct 29, 2003 at 4:21 pm

    Yikes, yikes. Certainly sounds like “the hurried baby” to force it to sleep through the night at two weeks. If it naturally does that, great…if not, it needs to be eating (and Mom needs it to be eating too!). And as you know, I am a happy advocate of “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” (by Nathan H. Azrin and Richard M. Foxx; http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0671693808/002-3079543-2158401?v=glance ). Every family is quite different from the next one. The parents are different, the children are different, and each child in any given family is different from his/her siblings in significant ways…so I also would beg to differ on hard and fast rules for every single child without regard to the particulars. My favorite parenting books are Nursing Your Baby (by Karen Pryor and Gale Pryor, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0671745484/002-3079543-2158401?v=glance) and Dare to Discipline (by Dr. James Dobson, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0842305068/qid=1067473158/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-3079543-2158401?v=glance&s=books).

    I was “never” going to homeschool, but started this year and I love it. We have now experienced public school, private Christian school, and homeschool. It will be hard to go back if and when we do.

  • 2 Lell // Jan 11, 2004 at 11:40 am

    I too have begun to read “The Hurried Child ” and “The End Of STress as We Know it” by MCewen and Lasley. Check out the DANA Press website for other goodies.Having been a hurried child, It is a tremendous challenge for me to “fight off ” my tendencies to overschedule my kids-Violin at age 3, What was I thinking?( and Sinichi Suzuki for that matter.) Right now I feel terrible now for not altering my Superchild thinking before the present.I have just come to your posting site by accident do you have a group or website?