Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just Some Thoughts from a Homeschooling Mom

I've pretty much decided on eclectic homeschooling, but that's not to say that unschooling no longer interests me. I still think it's a great concept, but I'm not sure I have the courage or personality to pursue it. You see, structure works for me. If I don't pause and plan, I do not make the most and best use of my time. I also believe in dawdling and lounging, but only for certain periods, and then guilt - lots of it - takes over. I'm a list maker. I love picking out which notebook to write in and then sitting down with a pen already mulling over the heading of my list. To accomplish as much as I can in a day, I have to enumerate my goals. If I didn't do that, I'll probably end up ensconced in the couch, reading, crafting or (worse) watching TV. Marguerite's homeschooling is all fun. I believe in letting her play as much as she wants to and just incorporating anything I feel she should learn in the games. You'd think there was no structure, but there is. It's not discernible to anyone but me, but I have to have it or I'll be lost - just a result of years and years of training. I have to seriously deschool to get over the need. So, I plan for activities, but if she's not ready to fall in with the plan, I've already learned to be flexible enough and just go with something else. Fact is, I may do some steering, but most of the time Marguerite does the leading. Where am I going with this? So my list-making self got down and wrote my 365 Things to Do list and decades of conditioning (hehe, I won't accept the blame) made me write down "Teach Marguerite to read" and "Teach Marguerite to write". Sometimes I just get so tired of myself and these compulsions. Why should I feel proud about learning to talk at 7 months when here I am with my contemporaries and we're all talking? Most of them probably talk better than I do too. So what if I learned to read and write early? Bottom line is, at 10, my classmates and I were all reading and writing just fine. Anyway, the truth also is that Marguerite learned the usual preschool stuff (ABCs, 123s, shapes, colors...) not from any formal lesson. She just picked them up from things we do and say. We have flashcards that she lines up and does other fun things with. She probably learns from them just from exposure, but I have never drilled her (not for lack of trying) or taught her anything using them. Going back to those two resolutions, I came across this article a long time ago, but forgot about it after frequently reading accounts of 3-yr-old children learning to read and write in a regular preschool. The writer, a behavioral and developmental pediatrician, states that children can learn to recognize words by sight at 4-7 (and it doesn't mean that they won't read LOEV as "love") and to read phonetically at 7-9 (even later for boys, in fact). She warned that forcing children to learn things which they aren't physically ready for just yet could create learning problems for them in the future. She says a good marker to see if a child's brain is ready to learn to read phonetically is if they can do the cross-lateral skip. When I read this, I went to Marguerite, raised my left leg and my right arm forward, and said, "Can you do this?" She laughed and raised her right leg and right arm. I discussed this with my sister who studied Early Childhood Care and Development in college and she echoed what the article said. Chip said Marguerite's eyes weren't ready for reading yet. She advised me to focus on cognitive development activities (here's another helpful site), which I'm already doing anyway both deliberately and unintentionally. She says it's also okay to continue Marguerite's exposure to Spanish (I have not been consistent about this at all). Sigh. That's why it's probably better if I focus on my learning and not worry so much about Marguerite's so long as she's not picking up "bad" things. I mean, she's a sponge. In my case though, there are so many things to learn and un-learn. That's it for today. See what happens when I don't plan or create an outline? Digressions, lack of cohesion, half-made points... I'm not going to review what I wrote. I might just disagree with everything I said and just delete this, lol.

4 comments:

Sheila said...

Hi there, I've never home-schooled but I was interested in your comment about exposure to Spanish. I have a new grandchild who has caused some discussion around her language development. My son speaks English, and my DIL was brought up bilingual in French and German. Apparently the advice now is that each parent should speak his/her own language to the child. I find the whole idea very interesting. It will be such an advantage for her to be multi-lingual.

spinninglovelydays said...

Hi, Sheila. That's what I read too. Children reared in multilingual homes do not have trouble or confusion at all. They just pick up all the languages they are exposed to.

Sharkbytes said...

I get a lot more done too when I have a list. I think kids who learn some structure are much better suited for the adult world which they will have to enter (all too soon)

Will Riddle said...

Hey, thanks for linking to my article! I'm a homeschooler too, and I am pretty much making the decision to go eclectic as well. I've been to a number of homeschool conferences now, but each time I go, I feel like I have two or three contradictory advisers in my head! I like bits of classical, bits of Charlotte Mason, and bits of other things... but according to the advocates, they don't really go together. Oh well. We have to do what works, right? I think eclectic must be more practical this way?