Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Idle parenting

A piece today about a new book, 'The Idle Parent', by Tom Hodgkinson, who lives in the UK. This is in reaction to helicopter parenting and over-scheduled children. He teaches his kids Latin and Greek at home, so that might colour your view of him.Link

If you read the article, I think you get the idea, and won't need to buy the book.

I've read a similar book by Muffy Mead-Ferro called 'Confessions of a Slacker Mom' which I picked up second hand for $3. I don't know why these kinds of books have titles that make the parents sound negligent when they aren't, eg, 'Mommies Who Drink'. Part of the genre.

In my course at the moment we have been talking about kids being coached for selective schools. Is it any different from kids being coached to attend sports high school, or visual arts, or performing arts schools? Probably not. Working hard leads to achieving goals. That's not a message to be sneezed at. When it is at the expense of free time and socialising and having fun and gong to the occasional party - that's when it becomes a problem and unhealthy for the family, in my opinion.

Is my family over-scheduled? Yes. During the week. But weekends and holidays are free. Do we have lots of free time? Yes. The kids have playdates and time to moosh about. We have dinner at the table together every night. They go to bed at a decent time. They eat good food. As my friend who is a mother of five says, 'It isn't rocket science.' Simple things first - food and sleep. No amount of coaching will help if the children eat rubbish food and are tired.


Jill in a Box said...

My husband has read this book and was very inspired - he is the main carer for our children. I tried to read it, but was put off as I felt it assumed that there was someone, somewhere making money to enable the idle parenting lifestyle. Having said that, I agree with his parenting ideas - keep it simple. This is our mantra as a family, although it's hard to achieve! You might be interested in a blog called An Idle Dad, which takes its inspiration from this book.

Melissa said...

Hey! I teach Latin at home too :) Is your view of me coloured now ?

Don't get me started on selective schools. The thing is, they're not actually meant for the kids who have worked their eyeballs out K-6. They are meant for the naturally smart to get the kind of interesting education smart kids need.

The use and promotion of coaching discriminates against smart kids with poor parents, or families who reject the hot house method of schooling their primary aged children.

Motherhugger said...

Hey,I'm not against teaching Latin. We dipped into the Latin dictionary often whilst reading Harry Potter. The difference is that you are your children's teacher, and not claiming to be an idle parent. I don't know how structured this guy's home lessons on Latin and Greek are, but the thing is he does that and claims to 'leave the kids alone'. (I'm all for lots of time for free play, but I still quiz the kids on who sings which Beatles song.) We all have our priorities for our kids, whether it be sport, music, grooming, academic study, art, practising your religion, or more generally facilitating their interests to encourage a love a learning. Depends on what you value (and what your image for your family is - because we are all creating that, aren't we?)