Fed is best

Dear homeschooling parent

I wanted to take a moment, here at the tail end of the school year, to remind you that fed is best. No, I haven’t lost my marbles – I’m not talking about food. I mean, I am, but I’m not – I’m actually talking about learning. Bear with me?

Read more: Fed is best

I saw a meme the other day that’s one of the end-the-mommy-wars kind of memes, but not about nursing. Basically, it listed several different scenarios of feeding kids, ending with the same phrase: “fed is best.” That if you’re having a difficult day, feeding the kids cereal is better than them going hungry. A Happy Meal is always better than them going hungry, and so on.

This week, at a homeschool meet-up, I encountered a few new homeschool faces and we got to talking. Which is itself quite amazing – generally we hang out in silence, and any attempt at starting conversations falls flat. Somehow, we ended up on reasons to homeschool, and one reason mentioned was public school food.

I know zilch about the current foods offered, so I didn’t really have an opinion. One parent spoke about how homeschooling lets us eat healthier meals and how important that is for their family. Which was great! Until they listed off the unhealthy foods they didn’t eat any more, and I remembered the “fed is best’ meme that stuck with me.

I felt like a newer, less-sure-of-themselves homeschooler might feel intimidated by that list, so I laughed and pointed out that we sometimes still eat those foods, and that’s ok too. Because it’s really a subjective thing. I can say my kids drink whole milk and eat candy every day, but if I don’t specify how much, it’s more shocking when people assume that’s all they drink or eat. When really, it’s a tiny part of their diet, and we’re teaching our kids moderation.

My brain busily whirred behind the discussion, thinking and comparing. And this is the result – a full 4 days after the conversation: “fed is best.” As in, learning is best. SOME learning is better than giving up and doing no learning. A science documentary is better than no science that week. Independent reading is better than skipping a read-aloud that day.

If we have a rough school day, our bare minimum includes reading, handwriting, phonics or spelling practice, and social studies. Sounds pretty intense still, right? Nope. It’s self-directed, low-impact, low refusal work that the kids enjoy doing. And it’s still learning, or practicing and maintaining skills already learned.

For those of us on a summer off kind of schedule, we’re limping towards an end date. A sell-by date. An expiration of moms’ and kids’ patience date. We’re done. We’re SO done right now! But, if you’re like me, you have an 180 instructional day requirement to fulfill, and you’re so close your kids can smell the freedom of summer days wafting their way. Just remember, fed is best. And ask yourself – is finishing the last 5 pages of this curriculum more important, or is meeting your kids’ needs and minimizing battles more important?

Fed is best. Meeting our kids’ needs is best. Running ourselves ragged for a meaningless ideal is not best. For anyone.

Note: I am not advocating for a continuously lax education, or ignoring your child’s educational needs. I’m simply pointing out that if my local elementary school can name a “Fun Friday” and show movies all day (not the first time, apparently, because the kids look forward to it) then we can have an off day or a mental health day every so often.

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