Dixie Dillon Lane is an American historian living in Front Royal, Virginia, where she teaches students of all ages, including her own four vibrant homeschoolers. She is a Contributing Editor at Hearth & Field and a regular at the Arena blog at Current. Dixie's weekly newsletter can be found at her substack.
Why does my third child, my little son whom I mention above, need me to be in physical contact with him while he reads? Because it helps him feel warm and safe, I imagine, and so he is not as afraid of making mistakes. Alternative educators recognized this in the classroom decades ago: that children read better with an adult’s arm around them, or while piled onto soft pillows with a couple of friends.
All of parenting is risky because nothing is more important to us than our children. And the decisions we make do matter, sometimes greatly. But if we allow risk to dominate our thinking and practices, we will become unmoored from reality and pass down this paralyzing anxiety to our children.
We should not reject the good fruits of our modern era, but let us also not neglect the good it does young bodies and minds to run up and down the cliffs, to have a mountain to rest the eyes against, and to sometimes simply be outside without parental interference.
Being a teacher is a demanding job, whether in a college, school, or home setting. It requires tremendous energy, responsiveness, and mental flexibility. It requires that you, the teacher, also be willing to let yourself be taught.