In a world where so many do not have access to any education and will go through life illiterate, debating whether education should be delayed may seem counter-productive. The truth is that I highly value education and am thankful that I have had the freedom to become educated in the way that I have. I really believe that I have been given such a gift and I want to share that with my children as well. But I also believe that our understanding of education has become confused and that often the value is placed on education rather than learning, which is resulting in many being educated while having learned very little.
One place that I have been doing some reading from is this blog, Not Just Cute, a woman who is actually a preschool teacher and I know, how does that go along with my delayed education philosophy. Anyways I find that she make many good points about the development of children and our expectation on them (Thanks Beth for the original link!). In one particular article, Age Does Matter, she focuses on how America (and Canada’s) kids are struggling academically (I would suggest more areas as well) and the response seems to be to just start earlier. She says, “It struck me right away that what I was doing with first graders just seven years ago is now considered kindergarten territory.”
And a couple quotes from within the article:
Gesell Institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Marcy Guddemi explained during her formal announcement of this study, that “Children have sets of abilities that are definitively bound by their developmental level. These developmental abilities of a child are directly related to their success at processing the information given to them and to perform the tasks asked of them.” This means that regardless of state standards and curriculum requirements, if a child has not had adequate time and experience to develop the requisite abilities, her chances for success are slim. Unfortunately while the pace of developmental growth has not changed, what is expected of these children certainly has.
Dr. Guddemi points out that children may actually appear to learn some of these tasks. But points out that this “learning” is actually “training”. Because they are not developmentally ready, the children haven’t built the appropriate connections for meaningful knowledge. Referring to these as “splinter skills” she says, “You can train them, but the knowledge and understanding—the true learning—has not happened. Our country has this hang up that if the child can perform, that they know.”
I won’t quote more of the article because I think that it is really worth reading. Also she links to some other articles and has resources at the end.
It is this particular quote that struck me, “You can train them, but the knowledge and understanding—the true learning—has not happened. Our country has this hang up that if the child can perform, that they know.” Even in my limited time teaching and doing remedial reading programs for elementary students, I observed kids who in the earliest years “got it” and excelled but now were struggling and hating school only a couple of grades in. Is it perhaps because like Aneliese, they “knew” but also like her hadn’t developed to the point where it would be meaningful and lasting knowledge to them?
Most of the articles that I have read are actually still approaching it from the perspective of a child attending preschool and kindergarten. However, my question is, will it hurt them to wait a little longer? And if we as parents are being intentional about experiencing life with our children, attentive to their needs, is it best to begin formal education in even a “fun” style?
And in conclusion of part two, one more link that is kind of fun:
15 things every pre-schooler should know
Part three to follow…and then I’m done:)…
I read these two articles right around the time I was thinking of starting Anna Kate in preschool. They started me down the researching path. Then I started reading about Charlotte mason and other homeschooling methods that also encouraged waiting until six or seven years. Now I just handle learning by waiting for Anna Kate or Alberta to ask first before I teach anything schoolish (reading, letters, numbers…). It’s tricky now though because legally you have to register your kids by five for homeschooling and they want to know your plan for the year and then you have a report at the end of the year. I either have to lie, or just tell them we won’t be doing anything formal…. it kinda freaks me out. I guess I could just bombard them with research suggesting delayed formal education is in my child’s best interest. I’m new to the system so I’m not sure what to do.
This is very interesting I have not heard that much about it before. I know T is fairly advanced in his language, but formal learning of letters, colors, numbers etc. he is just not into right now. I have held off mostly because of feeling like it was too much of a chore right now because he doesn’t love it, knowing he is just 3 1/2 and what really is the big deal and feeling like reading to him a lot is the best thing I can do for him.I do have a question though. Have you read much about classical education? I was raised a bit with that, and I loved it. I have also been reading a lot about it and wanting to pursue that along with some of the Charlotte Mason methods in homeschooling here. I know the first four years they really emphasize memorization because it is easy for them to do at a young age, so in each subject you spend lots of time in memorizing facts, numbers etc. and it isn’t until I think fifth grade that you start actually doing way more applying what they know. And it is good exercise for the mind to train it to memorize etc. The classical method is also VERY big on reading to your child. But I don’t think they encourage delaying, I felt a bit more like they encouraged teaching reading by 5. Anyway, just wondering if you had researched that and what your thoughts would be.
I’ve been wondering the same thing Katherine. I love what Charlotte Mason said about living books and teaching through literature rather than textbooks. I know I’ll apply her narration technique and dictation technique and I have her grammar book. I really suggest the book A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. It’s really really good. Anyway, I’ve been wondering about classical homeschooling as well. I need to read more about it. I know my kids love to memorize things at this age so it seems sort of natural. Any good book recommendations?
I currently am waiting my turn in the library system for the Charlotte Mason Companion, I am looking forward to that.The best book I have read so far on Classical Education is The Core : teaching your child the foundations of classical education
by Bortins, Leigh A.
(I also saw your comment on Missy’s next post about kids leaning another language and this book talks about that a bit and I think they encourage you to start young, like age 6ish if I remember right)
A Well Trained Mind is great but big and overwhelming and probably would only be helpful if you actually want to go the direction of Classical education because it lays everything out for you.
Katherine, I know a bit about classical education but I haven’t read a lot of stuff on it. I do know that I am very, very into LOTS of reading. Poetry, stories, rhymes, facts presented interestingly, bible verses (not as much as I would like) all of it. Read, Read, Read. And from that comes memorization. I honestly don’t know if it due to how we approach learning with our kids or if they just naturally memorize and retain a lot, but both of them can sing and quote songs (lots), remember details, say word plays and rhymes, count, and quote lines from stories (for Aneliese, she can recite whole books) when something happens that reminds them of their books. (Truly, I am not saying this to brag, even if it sounds like it, it really is just how they are). And they are in the early stages of applying it. So memorization, yes, but even that is just part of us reading, singing, or enjoying family activities together, meaning we don’t really do it for memorizing sake, though I think that memorization is very valuable. I think that where it can become an issue is where memorization/rote learning is mistaken for understanding.I would be interested in some of the reading you could suggest for me to read up on it a little as I would be interested to know a little more. I still think that waiting to teach children in a more formal style including reading seems to be supported in terms of their physical development (including their eyes) as well as cognitive development (where I mentioned things like the myelin sheath before). And the countries (Norway, Finland being two that come to mind) that begin formal education including reading at the age of seven have the highest literacy rates in the world with most continuing to read as adults. Again this does not mean that they aren’t preparing children nor that children aren’t learning. So, I don’t know, I hope that kind of answers your question. You could start by reading those articles that Lola linked and I could also send you some additional stuff if you are interested. And I would love to hear more of your thoughts.
I’ve been finding lately that I need to just chill out and parent my kids as individuals and not as subjects that pertain to my educational philosophies. I’m learning to take cues from them as to what they are ready for. We do so many things just because we like to such as memorization and cooking and counting and animal tending. Kids are amazing and when they are ready for something, they just get it. It’s like learning how to pump. You can explain it and explain it and explain it. and then one day you look out and they are on their swing leaning back… and then forward….back… forward… physics. I’m learning that if I just relax, I have to do way less “teaching” and a whole lot more facilitating.
Amen to that, Lola!
I know what you are saying about your girls being able to do all those things, T is the same way and it really has a lot to do with repetition. They say you memorize things better by doing them for 5 minutes every day for 100 days etc. then you do by doing things 100 times in one day. So it’s true that I think a lot of memorization comes out of just plain repetitions, and reading books, singing song ect day after day help them a lot. If I read T the same psalm everyday for a couple weeks, he will just start saying it with me.I agree though that memorization does not mean that there is complete understanding. And from what I got from the classical method, they get that too, they just feel that the ability to train the mind to memorize at an early age is good, and that it’s ok if they don’t understand, that will come later. This encouraged me in memorizing verses with T because I often felt like there is no way he ‘gets’ what he is saying, but its true that someday he will get it, and those verses could come to mind in times when he really needs them.
The best book I have read on Classical education so far is
The Core : teaching your child the foundations of classical education
by Bortins, Leigh A.
It’s not too lengthy, but lots of good information and so many things about this method resonate with me. The classical method seems to me rich in structure and history looking back at what has worked well etc. Not to say that there aren’t new wonderful ideas, but it reminded me of all the times in Deuteronomy when the Lord stresses the importance of remembering the things that he did and had done, and it is the remembering the equips us to see problems today or where they came from. Every time Israel forgot, they fell apart. One other thought..
This year I read the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and it was about this guy who was a pilot and the plane crashed and him and one other guy lived at sea for weeks, and then they became PO’s and he basically attributes his survival to the fact that they spent hours at sea going through their life, from their earliest memory to the moment they were at and recalling every detail, everything they had ever learned, memorized, eaten, every person they met, conversations, recipes, and then they would keep going back to the beginning over and over and each time they would remember more things. And even in the PO camps their mind was their greatest tool for survival. Of course this is worst case scenario but it really made me feel the importance of what I input. And I know that memorizing a LOT of math, history, science phonics facts that we think they may never use could seem pointless, I have begun to see that is can also be of great value. We have no way of knowing how God will use ALL those things for our children’s benefit.
Those are some of the articles that I have read as well, or ones similar. I haven’t read alot of Charlotte Mason yet but I know that she and the Moores are two that I have heard of (and can remember their names).I have been wondering about the whole registering thing too, I do have some time for that though, however everything I have seen on the NS government seems to say that they must be five on or before December 31st in order to be registered. The wording seems to indicate that they can’t be registered early not so much when they must be registered. I have tried calling but haven’t gotten through.
I’ve heard of the Moores as well. I need to read up on them. We’ll have to register Alberta the same time you will Aneliese. Anna Kate is five and a half so I just have to sorta stall them for another year. Kindergarten is Mandatory (I can’t even tell you how irritated that makes me) so Alberta still has two years.
First, ‘wow!’ on the comments! SO interesting! I LOVE how blogs bring topics and people and ideas all together. Yay!!
I believe my friend Delynne is quite into ‘Classical Education’. She directed me to ‘A Well Trained Mind’ and (I think) sketches out most of each HS’ing year from it. I like what I see in their family and children, so I tend to give ear to her HS’ing opinions.
Next, the posts.
Missy, THANK YOU for writing these! it’s so great to finally read some thought on the whole ‘delaying’thing, as all I’ve heard from some folks is simply, ‘delay’ but I haven’t heard the why. So thank you!! It’s also great to get some names and sources.
I must say (and this is no slight to any other kiddos or mamas) but I’ve never met such a…fluent (I think that’s the best word?) child as your A’! She has such a grasp of language already! It’s been great for me to watch you with her, knowing that she does already show such interest and ability, as it really shows your thought and decision.
I’m still unsure as to what education will look like in our home. J is strongly focused on the classical approach (earlier learning, ‘Great Books’, ) and would be quite hesistant (that’s probably saying it nicely) with any child-led or delayed approach.
I, on the other hand, see value in delaying of some things if it means a stronger foundation and a deeper love of learning. Yet…I still have hesitations. (uh oh…I’m getting into my own blog post here…I mnight need to stop!). I guess, for now, my though is that I’ve seen the ‘end product’ of our NA ed’ system walk through my office and it wasn’t pretty. Most of the freshmen students I worked with were ‘functionally illiterate’. They could get around but they’re written skills were generally around a grade 6 level (which, btw, is what our computer’s spell checker is at!) 😉 . I desire open doors and celings for children; no limits on what they desire with their futures. So…hopefully I can guide them in the right direction.
Kay, too long! Gotta go! Thanks for this, I’m sure we’ll hear/discuss more!
I agree with you Katherine, and I so enjoy being able to read with my girls and they are able to have so much stored up in their little memories. I also know that I have retained so much that I learned as a child as well. I would still say though that although the term “delayed education” is new, the concept is not. To my understanding, children did not historically begin school until the age of seven (give or take) and if you read classic literature and novels there will often be mention of children beginning school even if with their parents between 6-8. But perhaps the books that you mentioned about Classic Education provide some background and a differing perspective? Thanks for the titles!