Today, I read this quotation from Blaise Pascal: “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quiet in a room alone.”
I was instantly reminded of the time I entered my son’s room when he was about 8- or 9-years-old to find him seemingly doing nothing, sitting on his bed. I asked him what he was up to. The reply: “Nothing. Just sitting here thinking.” As I left the room, it hit me: he is learning to be with himself. He is learning to be ok with that. He is laying the foundation of learning to be ok with while alone. He is learning who he is from the inside out.
Contrast this to what most children go through: day in and day out, surrounded by their peers in classroom, on the playground, and in many after school activities. They rarely get a moment alone and yes, many of these children really need some alone time just to decompress from their day. They have so little time to learn who they are from the inside out; instead, most children learn who they are as a reflection of their peers’ perspectives, thoughts and opinions.
Homeschooled students learn “to sit quiet in a room alone” perhaps because they simply have more opportunities to do so, even in large families where the children may share their room with a sibling. Many families carve out a specific time of day, as we did, each afternoon for “quiet time.” This does not need to be “nap” time, but just quiet time. Everyone, including the parents, can take a short refuge for quiet play, reading or meditation. Even the youngest children can learn to do this when implemented into the daily rhythm. What a gift! For each human being to learn to be ok with him- or herself in solitude.
Given the opportunity, this simple practice can lay the foundation for healthy human development, lasting long into adult life. As our children develop, quiet play or reading time can naturally lead to self-reflection, introspection, and even meditation practice. Going into the silence and stillness of alone time helps one to find inner resources of strength and resilience.
In the beginning, if your children are not used to a daily quiet time, they may resist or complain. I encourage you to stay strong – perhaps bringing it back to yourself – indicating that you need a quiet time. Maybe start with just 10 minutes, adding on 5 minutes or so every few days, eventually working up to 45 minutes to an hour.
The seeds you sow now, no matter how challenging in the beginning, will have deep, lasting effects for you and your children.