Have you ever noticed a pattern to growth spurts? For a few months, during a growth spurt, my child might look like they’ve put on a little weight- they’ll look a little rounder. A few months later though, and their trousers become ankle freezers and their jumpers are too short. During this part of the growth spurt, they look as though they’ve dropped a couple of kg’s. They haven’t at all – they’ve simply shot up in height. I’ve noticed that sometimes my children grow horizontally and then awhile later, they’ll have a vertical growth spurt. It’s an amazing process to watch. 😀 Out then up, fill out then up. It’s also a process where one needs to have long arms as they will tend to eat us out of house and home. I can usually tell when my children are heading for a growth spurt (and by watching them I can also tell when I’ll need to buy them new clothes) as they start to eat more. Yeah, they become bottomless pits!

The academic mind is much similar to our physical bodies. There are times when a growth spurt is very obvious and I’ll observe that their thinking skills or knowledge base has been stretched in a horizontal way – they’re building on top of the knowledge they already have…they’re making connections of their own and figuring how information goes together. Then, there’s the academic-vertical growth spurt where they learn new information and it appears like there is great growth. During all this time, they need to be fed nutritious, healthy, rich mind food and a diet full of rich ideas written in an engaging style generous in literary quality and great truths in order for the whole person to be nourished.

Ever noticed that during times of growth spurt that the child can become a little clumsy or awkward? Sometimes they will seem like their coordination is slightly off or they’ll always be bumping into things or having little accidents. I wonder if this is because the body has changed and so the habitual habits (fine and gross motor skills) must also adapt. So it is with the mental growth spurts of children. The connections they make may not be entirely correct, they may use terminology that isn’t quite right, they may struggle with appropriate talk at a given time…much of this is part of the mental growth spurt stage. Just like a physical growth spurt, this stage needs good nutrition, exercise, stimulation, patience and time. There are some things that just can’t be rushed.

There are times when one of my children have had a voracious appetite for good books. I may not have seen much ‘output‘ from them during this stage. In fact, it seemed like they were a bottomless pit- devouring good books yet not putting on any weight. But then, a short time later, the growth spurt would come and I would have opportunity to witness the effects of their partaking in a rich diet- a growth spurt. Just as the height of an adolescent may not change yet the body is undergoing huge changes. The bones are developing, reaching maturity yet we don’t necessarily see these changes.

What I had to learn throughout all this was that all the stages are important and that I shouldn’t esteem one stage as more important that the other. I wanted to see the vertical growth spurt all the time. But I didn’t. I had to learn that it isn’t right, necessary or desirable to see vertical growth all the time… that all the stages of the growth spurt are important and necessary for a full, well rounded person. I am learning to observe my children more. Then I can decide what their needs are and set about meeting those needs. Everyday brings something new, something rich, something different, something exciting…take time to stop and look for the little things and then consider how to best meet the needs of your children.

Have you ever felt that your child was devouring information yet not doing much with it (output)? Have you ever noticed the different aspects within the growth spurt period? Does thinking this way change the way you view anything in your child or your homeschool?