Waiting Despite the Push

In today’s world it seems everyone here in the U.S. is pushing to start their child early in school. Some even feel a parent should start some type of formal education before the age of three. Yet, is that the best for our children?

I cannot count how many times there are questions on the homeschool Facebook group about ways to start school with a child who is 2 or 3 years old. I’m not sure why there is such a desperate need to get started on learning, or I should say formal learning, today.

I remember when I started kindergarten. It was expected I might know how to count to 10 and maybe know my ABCs. I was not expected to know much more than that, except maybe my basic colors. Today’s 5-year-old starting kindergarten is expected to already know numbers, letters by sight, and even some basic reading words. What is the hurry? Are children graduating knowing more than we did in the past?

In reality, our graduating seniors know significantly less than 12th graders even 50 years ago. Our college entrance exams (ACT/SAT) have been “dumbed” down in order to keep the statistics high enough. So, why rush in beginning formal education?

There are important reasons why not to start. I will start by sharing the first one that comes to mind.

Seventh-day Adventists are given wise counsel not to begin formal education until a child is 8 to 10 years old. For boys, I would suggest formal learning later is better. We have wise counsel from Dr. Raymond Moore, also, in his book, Better Late than Early.

Other countries such as Denmark and Finland delay their children’s entrance into formal schooling. They do have some early pre-school programs, but they are play-based and child-centered. This means the child is allowed to play and learn instinctively in a natural manner. THIS is how our children learn and how the brain best develops. This type of play-based early education is what builds better brains and better learning skills in later years.

Research has also shown that children who delay formal schooling have less behavior problems. They are better able to sit and focus when their bodies are ready for learning. Early formal schooling has not shown any advantage in later reading scores.

I realize that in today’s world it is often necessary for both parents to work. Daycare costs a good deal of money. If we can send our children to school earlier, it is less money out of our pockets. Is it worth it in the long wrong? And, we are choosing to homeschool, so this “save money” reason to send to school early is not even considered.

Another argument for early education is the effect of poverty on child development. This is the stated reason for Headstart program. Some others use the reason that children with neglectful parents need to be in the school system so they will not be penalized academically. Again, neither of these would give a cause for those homeschooling. I’m hoping for those parents who need help in improving parenting skills that they will seek help.

Do we feel our children will be behind if we delay formal education? At the end of this article, I’ve listed some of the research on the benefits of delayed academics. Hopefully this will help a parent give a good reason if they do not simply wish to follow the counsel we have been given over a hundred years earlier, in addition to Dr. Moore’s research.

I wish to share a bit of my own personal experience with my youngest. Even though I had read all of Moore’s books and Ellen White’s recommendations, I had a child that was born with some challenges. I thought this warranted the need to begin formal education early. Yet, no matter what I tried, nothing was learned. In fact, the early push produced nothing but frustration and anger.

After I wised up and decided to wait, I began some formal education about age 8. Things were moving slowly, but I did not push. He did not learn to read until age 10. I had all types of professionals threatening me with legal action because I was not putting my son into public school and he was “behind.”

By the time he graduated, he had learned the basics and had developed a more well-rounded education than many of his public-school friends. Nothing was pushed. We tackled topics when he proved ready for them. Delaying formal academics allows your child to learn when they are ready, not when the public says they should be ready.

Each child is different. Those who are wanting to learn to read at 4 should be allowed to do so IF THEY ARE LEADING. Teach by informal methods, using games and fun activities. By keeping learning fun in the early years, the child will develop a love of learning that will extend their whole lives.

A closing thought is in reference to an article I read about the gifted/talented. We lose many of our G/T children by pushing early formal learning. By allowing our children time to play and learn naturally, we foster the brain’s ability to develop more synapse connections and increase creative thinking.

We homeschool our children so we can help them become all that God wishes them to be. I hope each parent reading this today will realize that it is not important to “keep up with the Joneses” in our teaching. Allow our children to be children. They grow up fast enough.

Resources:

Teaching the Preschooler — Informally, Part 2

With the push for earlier and earlier academics, sometimes parents feel their child may fall behind if they do not get started, even at such ages as 2 or 3 years old. Yet, as Adventists, we are counseled not to start formal academics until the ages of 8-10 years old, depending on the child.

Does this mean we simply allow the child to exist and not take advantage of these early years when the brain is growing so quickly? No, it simply means we use informal methods of teaching. The child who learns to love learning will benefit their entire lives. In this article, I will be giving some examples of how a parent can still ‘teach’ but do so in a manner that will help their child rather than hinder him.

When considering early education (and even later education in my opinion), think of Deuteronomy 6:7 that talks about teaching our children as we go about our day. The idea is that we are to make learning a natural process. As we cook our meals, we can show how to cook. We can discuss about creating healthy menus. We can talk about why we eat a certain way, and even why we may prepare foods in certain ways. At the store, we can teach price comparison and how to choose the best produce. This is an example of how natural learning can be used for older children.

So applying this natural learning for the preschooler, here is a running list of some ideas:

  • Read, read, read: While reading, point out pictures, discuss colors, shapes, etc. Ask what is happening from the picture. Ask what they think will happen next. There is an endless variety of topics that can be easily learned about while reading.
  • Art: Be willing to allow your child to experiment and get messy. Again, there are art books out there of the Masters. Reading about them and then trying to duplicate their art is a great art lesson, all natural. There are so many arts/craft books that one library cannot hold them all. There are limitless choices online. Pinterest has many choices. Colors can be learned. Different mediums such as water color, crayons, markers, plaster of paris, glue/paper, etc.
  • Science: This can be walking outside and learning the plants. Learning how to plant seeds and take care of them till harvest. For older children, this can lead to learning how to preserve that food. (Oops, this is supposed to be focused on preschoolers.) Comparing sizes of seeds, putting them in order by size, color, type of food/flower. Science can also be learned in the kitchen by cooking. Measuring, comparing ingredients, and even tasting. Helping them make charts with all this information. Help them make estimates of what will happen if you water one plant more than another. What if you water one seed more than it should be watered? What happens?
  • Math: There are series in the library that teach basic math skills. Again, cooking is a great way to teach math. Science can be easily combined with math with many activities. Math can even be used in art in studying proportions of various art displays. Just practice counting while singing songs can be fun and educational.
  • History: This can be learned by studying the Bible, having worship. It can be learned by reading real life books on various historical figures. Creating a timeline together can be art and history while being fun. There are some wonderful missionary books on the early church pioneers.
  • Writing: With writing, I would keep things very informal since it is largely a physical development issue. If they want to ‘write,’ then give them a large pencil or fat crayon with some blank paper. If they begin to ask how to draw or write a letter, then show them, but not until they ask. These preschool years really need to be child-led in learning. This way the parent knows they are ready developmentally and not being pushed. There are many inexpensive books out there that teach writing, beginning with drawing a line. Again, let the child begin by asking. You will see them begin drawing certain shapes and lines naturally. They will start trying to imitate your writing. So, of course, I’m going to suggest that you show writing by writing in front of your child. As you write, you can simply say out loud what you are writing about, if appropriate. When you make your grocery list, name out loud what you are putting on the list. You can even spell the words out loud. This makes learning all natural and fun. Plus, they see the practical application of the skill.
  • Play in the water.
  • Run and chase each other.
  • Take your child with you as you run your errands. Talk to them and explain. Today, I was taking my granddaughter somewhere. I missed my turn so ended up driving through this neighborhood with very large, expensive homes. She started asking questions. I ended up discussing values and how our values help us choose what we spend our money on. It was all natural and very important lesson for this little girl. She made a statement at the end that she was glad that mommy and daddy decided to spend their money on the family rather than a fancy house.
  • Sing, jump around.
  • Play child-led activities.
  • Do housework together.
  • Lay on the ground and look at the clouds. You can find shapes and discuss how clouds are made.

I could go on to list dozens of more activities. I hope these will give you some ideas to get started. The articles I shared in my last post gave some ideas that will also jumpstart your own thinking. The main idea is to live life with your child. Don’t park them in front of an electronic device. Instead, BE with them. Live with them. Interact with them. By doing these things, you can set a foundation for life-long learning and a brain filled with amazing abilities to learn and create.

Waiting Despite the Push, Part 1

In today’s world, it seems everyone here in the U.S. is pushing to start your child early in school. Some feel a parent should start some type of formal education even before the age of three. Yet, is that the best for our children?

I cannot count how many times there are questions on the homeschool list about ways to start school with a child who is 2 or 3 years old. I’m not sure why there is such a desperate need to get started on learning — or I should say formal learning — today.

I remember when I started kindergarten. It was expected I might know how to count to 10 and maybe know my ABC’s. I was not expected to know much more than that, except maybe my basic colors. Today’s 5-year-old starting kindergarten is expected to already know numbers, letters by sight, and even some basic reading words. What is the hurry? Are children graduating knowing more than we did in the past?

In reality, our graduating seniors know significantly less than 12th graders even 50 years ago. Our college entrance exams (ACT/SAT) have been “dumbed down” in order to keep the statistics high enough. So why rush in beginning formal education?

There are important reasons why not to start. I will start by sharing the first one that comes to mind.

As SDAs, we are given wise counsel not to begin formal education until a child is 8 to 10 years old. For boys, I would suggest formal learning later is better. We have wise counsel from Dr. Raymond Moore also, in his book, Better Late than Early.

Other countries such as Denmark and Finland delay their children’s entrance into formal schooling. They do have some early pre-school programs, but they are play-based and child-centered. This means the child is allowed to play and learn instinctively in a natural manner. THIS is how our children learn and how the brain best develops. This type of play-based early education is what builds better brains and better learning skills in later years.
Research has also shown that children who delay formal schooling have less behavior problems. They are better able to sit and focus when their bodies are ready for learning. Early formal schooling has not shown any advantage in later reading scores.

I realize that in today’s world it is often necessary for both parents to work. Daycare costs a good deal of money. If we can send our children to school earlier, it is less money out of our pockets. Is it worth it in the long wrong? And, we are choosing to homeschool, so this “save money” reason to send to school early is not even considered.

Another argument for early education is the effect of poverty on child development. This is the stated reason for Headstart program. Some use the reason that children with bad parents need to be in the school system so they will not be penalized academically. Again, neither of these would give a cause for those homeschooling. I’m hoping for those parents who need help in improving parenting skills that they will seek help.

Do we feel our children will be behind if we delay formal education? At the end of this article, I’ve listed some of the research on the benefits of delayed academics. Hopefully this will help a parent give a good reason if they do not simply wish to follow the counsel we have been given more than a hundred years earlier, in addition to Dr Moore’s research.

I wish to share a bit of my own personal experience with my youngest. Even though I had read all of Moore’s books and EGW’s recommendations, I had a child that was born with some challenges. I thought this warranted the need to begin formal education early. Yet, no matter what I tried, nothing was learned. In fact, the early push produced nothing but frustration and anger.

After I wised up and decided to wait, I began some formal education about age 8. Things were moving slowly, but I did not push. He did not learn to read until age 10. I had all types of professionals threatening me with legal action because I was not putting my son into public school and he was “behind.”

By the time he graduated, he had learned the basics and had developed a more well-rounded education than many of his public-school friends. Nothing was pushed. We tackled topics when he proved ready for them. Delaying formal academics allows your child to learn when they are ready, not when the public says they should be ready.

Each child is different. Those who are wanting to learn to read at 4 should be allowed to do so IF THEY ARE LEADING. Teach by informal methods, using games and fun activities. By keeping learning fun in the early years, the child will develop a love of learning that will extend their whole lives.

A closing thought is in reference to an article I read about the gifted/talented. We lose many of our G/T children by pushing early formal learning. By allowing our children time to play and learn naturally, we foster the brain’s ability to develop more synapse connections and increase creative thinking.

We homeschool our children so we can help them become all that God wishes them to be. I hope each parent reading this today will realize that it is not important to “keep up with the Joneses” in our teaching. Allow our children to be children. They grow up fast enough.

Resources

Teaching the Preschooler…Informally

With the push for earlier and earlier academics, sometimes parents feel their child may fall behind if they do not get started, even at such ages as 2 or 3 years old. Yet, as Adventists we are counseled not to start formal academics until the ages of 8-10 years old, depending on the child.

Does this mean we simply allow the child to exist and not take advantage of these early years when the brain is growing so quickly? No, it simply means we use informal methods of teaching. The child who learns to love learning will benefit their entire lives. In this article, I will be giving some examples of how a parent can still “teach,” but do so in a manner that will help their child rather than hinder him.

When considering early education (and even later education in my opinion), think of Deuteronomy 6:7, which talks about teaching our children as we go about our day. The idea is that we are to make learning a natural process. As we cook our meals, we can show how to cook. We can discuss about creating healthy menus. We can talk about why we eat a certain way, and even why we may prepare foods in certain ways. At the store we can teach price comparison and how to choose the best produce. **This is an example of how natural learning can be used for older children.

So applying this natural learning for the preschooler, here is a running list of some ideas:

  • Read, read, read: While reading, point out pictures, discuss colors, shapes, etc. Ask what is happening from the picture. Ask what they think will happen next. There is an endless variety of topics that can be easily learned about while reading.
  • Art: Be willing to allow your child to experiment and get messy. Again, there are art books out there of the masters. Reading about them and then trying to duplicate their art is a great art lesson, all natural. There are so many arts/craft books that one library cannot hold them all. There are limitless choices online. Pinterest has many choices. Colors can be learned, and different mediums such as water color, crayons, markers, plaster of paris, glue/paper, etc.
  • Science: This can be walking outside and learning the plants, learning how to plant seeds and take care of them till harvest. For older children, this can lead to learning how to preserve that food. (Oops, this is supposed to be focused on preschoolers.) Compare sizes of seeds, putting them in order by size, color, type of food/flower. Science can also be learned in the kitchen by cooking — measuring, comparing ingredients, and even tasting. Help them make charts with all this information. Help them make estimates of what will happen if you water one plant more than another. What if you water one seed more than it should be watered? What happens?
  • Math: There are series in the library that teach basic math skills. Again, cooking is a great way to teach math. Science can be easily combined with math with many activities. Math can even be used in art in studying proportions of various art displays. Just practicing counting while singing songs can be fun and educational.
  • History: This can be learned by studying the Bible, having worship. It can be learned by reading real life books on various historical figures. Creating a timeline together can be art and history while being fun. There are some wonderful missionary books on the early church pioneers.
  • Writing: With writing, I would keep things very informal since it is largely a physical development issue. If they want to “write,” then give them a large pencil or fat crayon with some blank paper. If they begin to ask how to draw or write a letter, then show them, but not until they ask. These preschool years really need to be child-led in learning. This way the parent knows they are ready developmentally and not being pushed. There are many inexpensive books out there that teach writing, beginning with drawing a line. Again, let the child begin by asking. You will see them begin drawing certain shapes and lines naturally. They will start trying to imitate your writing. So, of course, I’m going to suggest that you show writing by writing in front of your child. As you write, you can simply say out loud what you are writing about, if appropriate. When you make your grocery list, name out loud what you are putting on the list. You can even spell the words out loud. This makes learning all natural and fun. Plus, they see the practical application of the skill.
  • Play in the water.
  • Run and chase each other.
  • Take your child with you as you run your errands. Talk to them and explain. Today, I was taking my granddaughter somewhere. I missed my turn so ended up driving through this neighborhood with very large, expensive homes. She started asking questions. I ended up discussing values and how our values help us choose what we spend our money on. It was all natural and very important lesson for this little girl. She made a statement at the end that she was glad that Mommy and Daddy decided to spend their money on the family rather than a fancy house.
  • Sing, jump around.
  • Play child-led activities.
  • Do housework together.
  • Lay on the ground and look at the clouds. You can find shapes and discuss how clouds are made.

I could go on to list dozens of more activities. I hope these will give you some ideas to get started. The articles I shared in my last post gave some ideas that will also jumpstart your own thinking. The main idea is to live life with your child. Don’t park them in front of an electronic device. Instead, BE with them. Live with them. Interact with them. By doing these things, you can set a foundation for life-long learning and a brain filled with amazing abilities to learn and create.

Homeschooling as a Single Parent, Pt. 7


How Do I Afford This?

Homeschooling “on the cheap” is covered by various sites. It has also been covered by this blog in the past. Yet, because this series is about homeschooling as a single parent, I felt I needed to at least address some ideas on how to be able to afford to homeschool when funding may be tight.

With the internet, a printer, and a good local library, it is possible to homeschool for almost free. Unit studies are very popular ways to homeschool inexpensively. There are literally hundreds of free unit studies available online. There are some paid sites such as CurrClick that offer a free study each week. There are sites like HomeschoolFreebie which offer daily free resources. They also have paid resources that are often offered at a discount. Khan Academy is a well-known free site for many subjects. YouTube offers countless free educational videos and even audio books. Your local public library often offers free learning kits also. It is an extremely valuable resource.

There is a time exchange when you want to save money on homeschooling. When you have free resources, there is no one there organizing the lesson plans. That means it will require more time of the mom or dad to do the planning. Sometimes it is easier to find time than to find money, though.

I should say that the most “bang for the buck” I have found is Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which offers curriculum that is Christian in nature on every subject, and dozens of electives. They offer very easy payment plans also (sales are advertised often). Even though my children are finished, I still maintain my membership in this site since learning never stops. They also offer lesson plans. This is truly a one-stop place for all grades and subjects.

Other curriculums that are low-cost: Pray & Prepare. This is an excellent program that is not Adventist, but teach many of our doctrines such as Saturday Sabbath, unclean meats, and even modest dress. It is low-cost and has activities for all age groups. It is truly a program for the whole family.

Blessed is a Man/Far Above Rubies are high school programs that are specific for gender. They are college-prep programs that require a good deal of reading and writing/research. Again, they provide activities and ways to count high school credit. The parent only has to pick and choose according to interest and needs.

Before leaving this topic, I will also share about the K-12 program offered all across the country through the public school system. Because of the growing number of families who are pulling their children out of the public schools, a home-based public school program is now being offered country-wide. Word of warning…it IS public school. They do offer a number of perks like a free computer, a printer, and funds for internet access. They also offer funds for extras in some areas. When considering this option, ask yourself why you are homeschooling. From the friends I have seen using this program, it is a lot of work. There is also a teacher who oversees the work. Many times I have seen families extremely stressed in trying to finish the work by the end of the school year. Even though the cost is free, there are other costs to consider.

There are other options with information available on the blog and other lists. This post is simply a reminder of some ways to cut the cost of homeschooling. Having low funds needs never be a reason to not homeschool.