How much shelter?
Each season provides its own challenges in providing shelter to our animals. Shade is needed in summer. For winter, we need a place where our animals can be protected from the damp and cold.
Just as shelter needs differ from one season to the next, our need to provide protection varies through the lifespan of an animal. Young poultry will stand out in extreme weather and drown or freeze because they don't know to go into their coop.
One year, we watched a batch of turkey poults dive, one by one, into the lip of the waterer, getting just wet enough that they all nearly died from cold. We ended up blow-drying those turkeys (which seemed like a great idea right up until the blow dryer shorted out and caught fire).
As animals grow older, they begin to make choices for themselves about how much shelter they need. One pig might roll in the mud to prevent a sunburn while another stretches out in the shade, but they all figure out how to keep cool.
Children need shelter, too, of a different sort. One argument against homeschooling is that homeschool parents have unrealistic expectations for their children when they try protecting them from whatever those kids might be exposed to in a traditional school environment.
Like any viewpoint taken too far, sheltering children can be detrimental, but, undertaken carefully, there are benefits to letting children mature at their own pace.
I am reminded of a passage from "The Hiding Place," a memoir by Corrie ten Boom. As a young girl, Corrie enjoyed helping her father, a clock and watch repairman. One day, while riding on the train, she asked her father a question, knowing he always answered her honestly.
Not wanting to expose his young daughter to concepts she wasn't mature enough to handle, he asked her first to carry his large watch repair case from the train.
Although she gave it all her effort, Corrie was unable to move the case. Her father likened the weight of the case to knowledge a child was not ready for. He told her, "Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now, you must trust me to carry it for you."
Corrie didn't stay sheltered from the ways of the world forever. World War II soon came. Her family made the decision to shield Jews from Nazi persecution by hiding them in their home and, as a result, Corrie and her family were arrested themselves.
Corrie's father died soon after arrest. Corrie and her sister spent quite a while in concentration camps. Her sister, Betsy, died at Ravensbruck.
Corrie learned about atrocities of war, and she went on to carry knowledge too heavy for any one person to bear, but she always remembered that, when he could, her father protected her innocence.
My responsibility to my children is to build a foundation for them. That starts by providing shelter from circumstances they are not yet ready to deal with — just as I protect young chicks from rain and wind.
When questions arise, we answer them with information that is tailored to fit the understanding and maturity level of that specific child. Sometimes, those answers are vague, not to obscure the information forever, but to allow my children to retain a sense of innocence until they are wiser and more able to deal with weightier situations in life.
There are those who would disagree, but those same folks would think it perfectly normal to teach addition before subtraction and algebra before calculus. Homeschooling allows the attentive parent to carry certain burdens for their child, guiding toward maturity and building steadily toward the day when the child has the wisdom to face conflict and adversity.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.