Maybe it’s different for you. For me, the best memories of my childhood were those moments when something unexpected, spontaneous happened – something that would break out of a schoolchild’s monotonous routine. Like skipping school or playing on the streets with friends after school. I have fond memories of these moments, but I don’t have any lasting memories of school classes or after-school activities that my parents put me in.
So I think that in childhood, you need freedom and unstructured lifestyle more than you need formal education. Spontaneity and freedom teaches you more about life than structure does, because life is chaotic and unpredictable. You will have plenty of structure and plenty of opportunities to receive formal education later in life.
I don’t think I learned much in school or in after-school activities that were imposed on me. I took piano classes when I was a child, but I really don’t care about piano now. I took silk painting but I don’t care about that either. All the skills and knowledge I need now I learned on my own or my parents taught me. I learned to read on my own and read lots of books. My father taught me math better than my school teachers did. My father taught me drawing and that made a big impact on my future career choice as a graphic designer.
So was it worth wasting 10 years of my life on school where I learned nearly nothing? Was it worth dragging myself to additional activities after school? It would have been much better if I had more unstructured time as a child so that I could enjoy more spontaneous moments and create more long-lasting memories.
That’s why I stop and think, why do many parents want so much structure for their kids? Did these parents really, honestly enjoy structure and monotonous routine when they were kids? Did they really receive any long-lasting benefit from school and after-school activities? Seems like parents, once they grow up, forget about their feelings and experiences when they were children. As the quote from The Little Prince movie goes, “Growing up is not the problem. Forgetting is.”
So I don’t really worry too much about my kids taking formal lessons. I want their schedule to be as free as possible so that they get more opportunities to explore nature, books, skills and knowledge freely on their own. Right now, when they are young children, my primary goal is not to stuff them with formal education but to teach them values and to raise them to be kind, ethical, respectful, moral people (you’d be surprised how many parents focus on formal education and overlook the ethical part). It’s also important to teach my kids healthy lifestyle habits (healthy eating, exercise) because this is something that should be picked up as early in life as possible. Other than that, I don’t worry too much about early childhood education. Of course, we look out for educational opportunities for our kids, preferably the ones where they can be all together in a multi-age setting and where no commitment is required. But really, you can learn ANYTHING at ANY age.