I Don’t Mean to Boast…

April 17, 2012

Okay, I’m lying. I do mean to.

I don’t brag on my son much, because I know no one besides family really cares that much or wants to hear it. Plus there’s this parent paranoia that manifests whenever someone else talks about their kids. It’s like any deviation is a personal attack on how they are raising their own kids. I know I feel that way anyway… is it just me?

Well, if you tend to feel that way, skip this post (or brag on your own kid in the comments… I don’t mind).

I am just in awe of how much my son is responding to homeschooling. We went to the library today and we picked 13 books. About half of them 2nd & 3rd grade level chapter books, the other half various non-fiction books that caught his eye. He read a book on voting in the car on the way home and is right now reading 13 Buildings Children Should Know.

This is a benefit to homeschooling that I hadn’t anticipated, but I really appreciate. Nathan isn’t leaning that non-fiction books are boring like textbooks always were to me. I don’t even bother with textbooks. We have a couple reference books that we loosely follow when we need some direction, but then we go to the library for more information that is age appropriate. Nathan can pick whatever interests him from a variety of choices. He is way more likely to read something that he helped choose, and I can’t help but think he is more likely to remember ideas he is interested in rather than concepts being forced on him.

So here’s my big brag just to get it all out there:

In the last month or so Nathan has read almost 20 chapter books of at least 75 pages. (He also reads his 400 page children’s Bible from cover to cover about every other week.) He is over 90% finished with 2nd grade math and he keeps sneaking in “levels” from 3rd grade math because he is interested in the new topics. He often reads from our science encyclopedias to his brothers and they ask to try out the experiments. Also, because he is home with me all day, he helps with laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and general clean-up. His hobbies include programming using Scratch, keeping a blog, and writing comic books.

If it’s a nice day, he runs outside and jumps on his bike. He is allowed a break to run around and work off some energy between every task. He is healthy and fit and never has to eat crappy school lunches. He “sneaks” carrots and apples from the fridge before heading back to his lessons. Some days he dawdles over his schoolwork until 3 or 4. Most days he is done by noon and can spend the afternoon engaged in tinkering or imaginative play.

I found this comment from an article about the importance of play very telling:

As a public school teacher of 18 years I have been dismayed at the reduction of recess time and by the pushing down of inappropriate curriculum into kindergarten and 1st grade. In a 6 hour full-time kindergarten day, they get a total of 40 minutes of unstructured play. Gone are most the kindergarten “house” corners where kids “pretended”. You won’t find a block corner in many classrooms either. I believe strongly in public education…but couldn’t bare to put my daughter in that setting. She is now in a Waldorf school, where play in nurtured, and childhood is protected.

I haven’t thought about that in years, but she’s right. We did have a play house when I went to Kindergarten. At my local school, every minute of the day is structured for Kindergartners. This is not actually good for kids. Parents demand it, however, because they are under the misguided impression that education is in decline because kids aren’t being taught enough, soon enough.

I am here to say, please look at my son! Kids don’t need to be taught hardly at all! They just need to be exposed to wonderful resources. They want to learn. Nathan loves to learn and I hardly teach him a thing. He reads and we talk. It’s beautiful. I often overhear him sharing what he’s learned with his little brothers. This thing I have stumbled onto is amazing and I just wish we could take this little microcosm of learning that is my household and transport into the classrooms.

Okay mom brag over. I will probably post updates on his progress again though. I do believe this style of education could be a vast improvement for so many children. I would love to somehow be a part of the discussion for school reform to integrate what is being learned by me and over a million like me who perform this homeschooling experiment. I don’t think Nathan is gifted or particularly exceptional; he is just being given better tools. I want to shout our success from the rooftops without calling down judgement on parents who choose public schooling. Is that possible? How can I get these results out of my living room and into the classrooms for all children to enjoy?

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