Friday, January 15, 2010

Learning via osmosis

Our son turned 5 in November, and has always been a very bright boy. He began recognizing and reading words around 18 months old (the first word he read was "Canada" on a mail box). By 3 he'd taught himself to read and was just working on sounding out bigger words. By 4 he was reading beginner readers. By the time he turned 5 he was reading 60 page chapter books geared at grade 2 & 3 readers.

He is also teaching himself math. The other day I gave him a very awkward explanation of odd versus even numbers and told him that I'd figure out how to explain it better another time. Yesterday he said something about mini-golf with his cousin, and how he would putt first on the even holes, and his cousin could go first on the odd holes. And then gave examples. So I quizzed him. 9. Odd. 14. Even. 348. Even. 1859. Odd. He explained that if it ends in 0,2,4,6 or 8 it's even and 1,3,5 and 9 are odd. That isn't how I taught him, though it makes a lot more sense than my pathetic attempt to explain divisibility and such. He figured it out himself. After a 30 second conversation.

Homeschooling is something that we knew we'd do before we had kids. It's not that we knew (or know) a lot about it. We just felt that it was and is how we are supposed to raise our kids. And it has been to our son's benefit. Everyone who is familiar with public schools has told us that he would be bored stiff in kindergarten. And knowing him, I know that he would be a problem. He'd latch on to whatever kids were the most energetic and act out with them. Because that's how he is. He's drawn to energy. He wants to know everything and do everything and be a part of everything. So homeschooling has been a natural fit for him.

Our daughter is 2 1/2. She can't read yet. We don't expect her to, though sometimes we have to remind ourselves that she's not actually behind. LOL She's learning her alphabet and numbers. We have flash cards for fun, but if she's not interested, we don't push. She'll learn at her own rate. She's still bright, and has an amazing memory, just like her brother. She also has a very determined spirit and gets frustrated easily. So her quirks will contribute to the way we school her, just as her brother's quirks contribute to the way that we school him. I love that about homeschooling. We can customize the way we approach each of their educations. We can cater to their interests and strengths, and find creative ways to work on weaknesses. It's a learning process for all of us, and I love it.

Homeschooling fits us as a family. I get people who ask "Oh, are you a teacher?" I know they mean well, but that's like me asking "Oh are you a caterer or nutritionist?" because they cook for their families. Or I get the, "Oh, I could never do that" comment. My answer is often, "It's definitely not for everyone." Sometimes I get a defensive response from someone, telling me how great public school is, or how much their child loves school, and so on. I didn't choose to homeschool to make anyone uncomfortable. I chose it because it is right for us. I never expected that it would cause someone else to feel the need to defend public schools so vehemently.

We each (hopefully) do what we believe is best for our children. We're not perfect, but when it comes down to it, we want good things for our kids. In this case, keeping them home with us, teaching them and guiding their growth and development apart from the intense pressure of the public school system and all that it brings with it, is what we know is best for our children and our family. And we're blessed to be a part of a larger community of people who feel the same way.

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