Artist and Author Eric Carle’s Comments on Home and School
Eric Carle’s Comments on Home and School
On May 23, 2021, Eric Carle passed away after a lifetime of achievements spanning 91 years. He is best known for his illustrated children’s books including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He illustrated more than 70 books, writing most of them. Today there are more than 145 million copies of his works around the world.
I loved reading his books to my young kids. As a parent, you can probably relate to the joy of reading and re-reading a good children’s book to your little ones. And Eric Carle’s books were beautiful, appropriately repetitive, engaging, even educational.
Now that one of my seven children is a professional artist, I appreciate Carle’s work even more than I did when I was reading them to my preschoolers. His artwork had a unique style. He called it collage, which consisted of hand-painted papers (i.e., construction paper and tissue paper), which he cut and layered to form bright and colorful images. His work inspired my young children to study the pages of his books and to attempt replicating his technique in their own free-form, childlike way.
Carle Recognized the Gap Between Home and School
Carle is quoted as saying that he attempted to “…bridge the gap between the home and school.” He continued: “To me home represents, or should represent; warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child…I believe the passage from home to school is the second biggest trauma of childhood; the first is, of course, being born. Indeed, in both cases, we leave a place of warmth and protection for one that is unknown…”
Wow! I couldn’t agree more. And what a great pro-homeschooling statement. Think about it. Why do so many five-, six-, and seven-year-old children cry during their first day of school? It’s because they want to stay home where they feel safe and warm being held in the loving arms of their mommy. School is strange, and children instinctively know it. It’s traumatic, but so many parents force their kids to muscle their way past what feels so unnatural. I remember my own first day of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade in a local public school. My little sister would show up in my homeroom needing a reassuring hug from her big brother since Mom wasn’t an option. My heart broke for my younger sibling, and all I could do was put my arm around her, walk her down the hall to her classroom, and give her a lame pep talk. It seemed as though no one really cared about how forcing her to leave home and go to school made her feel.
Home truly is safer than any school. Even the federal government agrees. That’s why schools closed in March of 2020 and sent all 60 million K-12 students in America home. That initiated a two-month phenomenon when every family in America was homeschooling or doing some form of school-at-home. I like to say it was a mandatory trial run of homeschooling. It was unprecedented. It was a God Moment. And it was awesome!
In September 2020, the homeschool population officially doubled. And according to studies provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Home Education Research Institute, some subgroups more than doubled. For example, the number of black and minority families that homeschooled their children more than quadrupled in 2020 compared to 2019.
Based on surveys, there were still millions of families who were seriously considering and planning to homeschool in the fall of 2020, but didn’t for one reason or another. These families are now beyond frustrated with the schools’ bad attempts at online instruction, masks, Plexiglas dividers, and social distancing. These measures just don’t work for young children who need face-to-face time and positive physical touch. As a result, researchers are reporting data that strongly suggest another significant growth in homeschooling for the 2021-2022 school year.
As Eric Carle pointed out, school was already a strange place providing a traumatic experience for little kids. COVID only amplified that reality. And thankfully it woke many families up to the fact that they were headed toward being frogs in a boiling pot of water. This wake-up call was a providential two-by-four over the head for many families. It was the catalyst for positive change in the way they educate their children.
Parents Value Education and Homeschooling is the Ideal Education
Parents have always valued education. In recent days, they’ve become more intentional about this decision than ever before. They’re taking the bull by the horns in order to make sure their kids get the best education possible. And when you look closely at the options, homeschooling really is ideal in so many ways: academically, socially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. It’s the safest and healthiest place for children. It’s tremendously more efficient and inexpensive than the private or public alternatives. And in case it’s not obvious, it’s also the most environmentally friendly option.
There are many good reasons to homeschool. I believe one of the best and most valuable reasons is the relationships that develop. You probably experienced this last year when you were forced to give homeschooling a test drive in the spring of 2020. Things slowed down. You went on family walks and bike rides. You shared meals together and lingered at the table to continue hearty and wholesome conversations. Instead of rushing out the door for another extracurricular activity, you stopped pursuing the art of “being busy,” which you once considered a badge of honor. It can seem counterintuitive, but spending more time together actually helped strengthen the bond between you and your children in a wonderful way. Sibling relationships thrived. And the most important relationship of all — the one with God Almighty — actually got the attention it deserved.
So snuggle up on the sofa or bed with your kids and an Eric Carle book. Read nice and slow, and with feeling. Say a bedtime prayer, kiss them on the forehead, and whisper “Good night” as you tiptoe out of the room.
Rest in peace, Eric Carle. Your books made bedtime reading a joy for me and my children.
This makes me want to ask once again, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? I see a…”
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation- based science and Bible curriculum. He is the author of five illustrated children’s books designed to help parents instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of their preschoolers. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! You can hear more of what he has to say at the Let’s Talk Homeschool Podcast.
© 2021 Davis Carman