I have several versions written on this topic; each one rejected for public viewing for various reasons such as being long winded, too fact-filled, too personal, too opinionated-for-my-own-good sounding and so on. Even this one leaves me less than satisfied with how I explain myself, but each have been a great way for me to process my own thoughts. Please, let me know if you manage to wade through it and I would love to hear your thoughts.
Over the past years (even before we had children) I have had many questions about my plans for schooling our children. It is something that I have discovered many feel very passionately about, whether they be advocates of homeschool, public school, or private school options. I have also learned that the topic of our children’s education often evokes a similar intensity that the discipline topic does and so I tend to keep my answers very general or give an “we have lots of time” statement. But, now as Aneliese is at the age where most would expect that she is either doing preschool at home or school, I am becoming more desirous of giving a more articulate response even while in no way feeling responsible to most others for our family decisions. I won’t lie, I also feel very passionately about this and I value the opportunity to add my voice (though usually quietly) to the other perspectives out there.
Our intention is to delay education until about the age of seven. Based on reading, research and my own observations in my brief teaching stint, I have come to feel that this is the general age at which most children are developmentally ready; physically, mentally, emotionally. And this is one part where I will omit the detailed facts and thoughts including fascinating things like the formation of the myelin sheath and simply say that that I have become quite convinced that the best thing that I can do for my kids at this stages is to give them a few years to grow well.
Delaying education does not equal delaying learning. Indeed, our main focus right now is on developing healthy bodies, including hearts and attitudes, but the learning within that is boundless. I saw an explanation of delayed education that expressed what I wanted exactly, I mean no abstract (reading, alphabet, numbers) work that is not strongly child led (an example would be a child who just starts reading on their own–an abstract activity that I wouldn’t try to stop, but I wouldn’t be urging them to start either). (Sorry, I can’t source it)
Throughout our days, all branches of education are included as they naturally come up with life. As Aneliese set the table, she is learning simple addition (and subtraction), fine motor skills are worked on as she strings buttons while mama sews, colors are worked on during a game of I Spy or as we explore the world around us. They pick up letter recognition and sound association inevitably through our hours of reading together and further math and problem solving is worked on while helping bake or build. These are just a few examples that barely scratch the surface of daily living.
And in the meantime, these years will be filled with the many things that I believe are crucial to their education and life journey. Foundations that will enhance and encourage their love of learning; patience, self-control, discipline, respect and concern for others and themselves, appreciation, awe, and care for the world in which they live, the ability to express themselves and their opinions, flexibility, along with reverence and love for their Creator.
The question that has arisen from others and between Dan and I is that Aneliese appears to be ready for and would thrive with beginning education now. She is highly verbal and articulate, loves structure and routine, knows her letters and numbers, and retains what sometimes seems like amazing amounts of information. She also requires a great deal of mental and physical stimulation within a day otherwise she grows ‘edgy’ which further pointes to her needing and doing well with structured learning times each week. However, at each consideration, I see other signs of her development pointing back to holding off and continuing to encourage a more natural exploration.
Having said all this, I won’t pretend that sometimes, I wouldn’t just love to make a plan and have a little student again. And as I work at being attuned to both girls needs amidst our growing family, I find it even more challenging to be intentional (isn’t that parenting though?). Yet, I continue to believe that this is really working for my little girls.
Part two to follow…