Why I Let My Daughter Take A Video Before Math

“Don’t do that–you haven’t done your ‘school’ yet.”

I’ve been guilty of saying that before. But no more. Math (or whatever subject) is a small part of the big picture, and I’m DONE with our society treating these few things (the curriculum) like they are paramount to these other hundreds of amazing things. And you should be too.

So this morning my daughter wanted to make a cool video about her bath bombs (Brooklyn Bombs, to be exact). The one’s she’s selling this Christmas to help pay for her gymnastics.  People are loving the bath bombs, and she is starting to get some traction by posting about them on Instagram. So she was making a “satisfying” video, showing the effects of a bath bomb in water.

She had not done her regular school work yet and I almost instinctively scolded her for that. But then I stopped myself. “She is enjoying this. But more than that, she is doing something important. She’s is learning marketing. And that skill will be 10 times more valuable to her in the future than perhaps the school work she does today.”

So I let her.

Then, she came and asked me about the caption she should include with the video.

“Oh, you’re going to write that,” I said.

“But what do I write?”

And this is our writing assignment for the day, I thought to myself. Because this is where it matters. Writing matters when you want to say something important and you figure out how to say it. And this was her chance.

“What would compel you to buy that bath bomb?” I asked her.

And we talked about words, and imagery and compelling copy writing.

And that’s where real life makes sense of “school.” That’s why I don’t stress about whether she has finished the text book. The things that will stick with our kids are the things that matter to them.

And for this day, if she gets a feel for what it means to market a product, she has had a huge lesson for the day. She did the other work. But I don’t think she learned as much from it as she did from this project of merchandising, copy writing and marketing. We made it important.

The school work is fine. But let’s not let it crowd out all the meaningful things they’ll learn that their interests lead them to.  Curriculum is a tool; not a master.

12 Responses to “Why I Let My Daughter Take A Video Before Math”

  1. Charlotte Moore says:

    I agree! So much kids have to learn or memorize that does them absolutely no good in life at all. I don’t see any jobs that requires you to learn who was the king or queen in 1700. Good job mama!

    • Sue M. says:

      Is it important to memorize (or even know) who the names of certain kings or queens in the 1700s or 1800s? Probably not unless their reign (s) changed the course of history. But is it important to understand, say, the role of the monarchy at that time and when the US was founded why we no longer wanted to be governed by a king or queen? Yes. The point is that a knowledge of the broad swath of history is important, but memorizing details is not. There are libraries and countless online sources for that.

      There’s also a way to teach case to math (not just simple calculations, but algebra and geometry), and the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) in interesting, experiential ways that can make them a joy and show their application to everyday life.

  2. Natalie says:

    Thank you for this lovely story of real learning in action! Ha, no pun intended, but it is fitting. 🙂

  3. Alma says:

    Dear Kelly,

    I agree with your approach, but to a certain point. If they are young, I can see this working because you still have time to train a young adult how the real world works. Also the frequency of this approach have an effect on the product. Studying and the daily routine of doing what we don’t “want” to do because is difficult or boring, is what we mothers and fathers do every day. Being punctual and diligent on your work is one great possession. Formal study is important, and our children would learn that by seeing how seriously we take it also. I would encourage my daughter to do what she wants,but the homework will have to be done anyway, in a timely manner. The older they are, the more freedom they will have to accommodate the order of events, as long as they get done at the due time. It is helpful to explain to her that the writing she is doing is part of the schooling that day, that is has been shaped to serve both goals, but school has not been skipped. Of course, it also helps if we don’t load our children with so much “book work” that they never have time to play, investigate and do what your daughter is doing, beginning a business. I think her initiative is great, but just like mom, if she takes a detour from the “must do” and sits to watch a movie with the kids one rainy afternoon or do girls’ manicures ( a rare event), she still has to cook and change diapers. Is a great tool to teach our children time management and being responsible.

    • Hey Alma!

      I agree with you and children most certainly need to learn the importance of doing things they don’t like when the situation calls for it, and also being punctual, etc.

      But I have a slightly different opinion about how that may be taught. To begin with, I did still require her to do the “school work” I just didn’t treat it with greater importance because I don’t think it is more important. I think we (conventional school AND homeschoolers) have made this huge mistake and it’s hard to get our brains to think any other way. That things like learning the nuts and bolts of running a business is JUST as important (if not more) than going through the litany of geometric theorems.

      Secondly, I don’t think we have to teach punctuality and order, etc., to the detriment of of their joy of education. When we see that an education is vastly bigger than the school work, we want them to love pursing their gifts and interests and not feel like all learning is tedium and forced. So in my opinion, I can teach punctuality in a thousand ways outside of which activity she does first in school.

      I’ve heard parents often express the idea that if we don’t have a rigid school schedule their children will never learn punctuality, etc., as if school was the only place in life to learn those things. I’ve seen that it doesn’t necessarily work that way, so I try to keep my educational pursuits more free to allow the spontaneity, creativity, etc., while still insisting on order, punctuality, responsibility in other areas.

      If that makes sense. 🙂

  4. D. says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I admire the liberty you have in approaching home-schooling. In my heart I feel that forming character and imparting faith is much more important than tedious book work and a “good, solid education.” I do believe that kids learn so much more from pursuing what they are interested in.

    But don’t you agree there are times when our kids are doing something that might essentially be profitable (like learning to build something or create their own recipe, etc….), but duty calls? Can we treat every task as, “Just let them pursue what they like on their time?” I think Alma has a good point that we do need to require our children to face that there are things in life that we may not love, but we can learn to be faithful in them. It sounds like your family is very entrepreneurial, but for those families who are not, we do well to teach our children that working for someone else means you are running on their time table, not your own.

    Maybe your daughter is much older and better at time management? I know if I left my son to decide when to do math and reading or writing, it would never get done. I see your point that learning is not only book work. Learning is just part of living life and we as moms/teachers can be flexible to incorporate their interests into opportunities for being educated. Yet I still feel structure and routine (without being rigid) are important in school work. The part of the day that we are awake does not just belong to what our kids want to pursue, but also in participating with what MUST be done.

    I could totally be missing your point…. 🙂

    • Kelly Crawford says:

      Yeah, a little. 😉 The post didn’t mean that I let my kids get up and do whatever they want to do and do their school work when/if they’re ready. Most days, we have a definite “rhythm” I like to call it. We do breakfast, devotions, chores then school. Almost always in that order.

      But on occasion, like the above example, there is a spark of creativity when someone is really excited about a pursuit. I don’t want to treat that excitement as a hindrance to the schedule. I don’t want to tell my children that learning how to build a business is a lesser pursuit than doing their school work.

      That doesn’t mean time management is thrown out the window. I guess it’s just a message I’m trying to send. I think we can idolize a schedule and call it “teaching character” when teaching character can be done in a thousand other ways that doesn’t make us enslaved to a curriculum or time slot. I’ve just seen that happen and fairly crush the creative child.

      But I also know much of that thinking comes from my creative side and might just blow the mind of the more structured, Type A mom. We all have to find an approach that works with our personalities and accomplishes our goals for our children.

      For us, raising entrepreneurs is a high priority if they are at all bent that way. And even if they don’t become full time entrepreneurs, the skills can float them in difficult situations.

      If that makes sense. 😉

      • D. says:

        Okay. Think I am grasping your thought process. 🙂 We do the same in our home in regards to breakfast, devotions, chores, then ready for the day…..but we don’t have to be a slave to this particular schedule.

        This morning my kids enjoyed some outside snow time first thing and enjoyed breakfast outdoors!!! It’s good to mix it up a bit and not become too rigid, right?

        I am definitely not creative (self-admittedly), but neither am I completely schedule oriented. I AM very much about teaching the kids to accept what they are asked to do, even if it’s not on their time table or what they enjoy. Some things in life must be done whether we have learned to enjoy them or not. But I see the difference between that and being slave to a routine and insisting on everything always done in the same order!!


        • Kelly Crawford says:

          Exactly! <3

          • Ally says:

            We mamas need to watch ourselves. Like you mentioned, we cannot make the schedule or the curriculum the driver of our day. I am geeky and very much an introvert. As a child I could just do school, no breaks needed unless I got hungry 🙂 I love schedules, lists with boxes to check off, keeping a routine… BUT, my middle child is not like me at all! She is creative, very much an extrovert, totally opposite of me. Although I find comfort in doing things my way, I must let her have some flexibility because my routine crushes her bubbly spirit. I’ve struggled with this a lot, but if she had asked me if she could make a video this morning, I really hope I would have said yes 🙂

  5. MelissaB says:

    We are in our 8th year of homeschooling… yet, I still need this reminder (very much). Thank you, Kelly! 🙂

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