I am often perplexed and confused with the idea that kids have to learn specific things. I, also, often wonder who came up with the topics to be taught to children at specific ages. It seems that these things have changed over time and sometimes change from school to school. So what do children really NEED to learn?
Before deciding to be a homeschooling family, I assumed there were some valid reasons for teaching kids topics and skills at certain ages. But the longer we homeschool, and now ultimately unschool, I question whether it is all just a best guess or a mere race to the top of downloading as much information as possible in the limited amount of time kids are in school. And yes, it seems they are in school forever and for longer and longer hours all the time. But, if what teachers tell me is true, up to 90% of the time spent in school is mere crowd control in elementary grades and not much better as children get older. That would mean that in a 6 hour day of attendance in school only 35-40 minutes of that is quality instruction or teaching. So indeed, it is a limited amount of time.
Kids are instructed, or taught, reading and math earlier and earlier. This despite their incapabilities to neurologically read across a page, without stress, or understand and I mean really understand, not just memorize, abstract concepts. And this push to teach the basics takes away the time for kids to learn experientially and freely. To learn without pressure or stress. To enjoy the process.
So why is the push to get kids into school earlier and earlier? Is is doing more harm than good? I think so and I think it is time to push back, to defend childhood.
Do you think I am off base?
It’s been awhile since I posted on this blog. Partly because my life has been a little chaotic, partly because I don’t really know what I want to say.
Our office has been going through some changes. We are installing new software, using new computers and replacing office staff. And of course, doing all that at once only invites chaos. But things are needing a change so why not just jump into the deep end of the pool.
On the home front, the “school year” is coming to a close. While it doesn’t really mean much of a change in our daily lives, it does signify another year of change for many. It is hard not to compare what my child has “learned” with what the schooled child, of similar age, has been taught over the year. I still have a hard time letting go of the standards and expectations. But, it is getting easier to see the things my kids have learned. Some to much of my surprise. My oldest could probably hold his own as an entomologist. He can identify and classify with the best of them. His typing speed is close to surpassing my own as well. He is having fun and learning all the time. As are the younger two. I just have to participate, listen and watch.
Some of the things we have done this past week are immeasurably educational and fun. My boys were immersed in learning about hydro-electricity, history, sustainability, engineering marvels, social stewardship, biology and nature, navigation and so much more. And what did that look like? Camping, traveling and visiting The Grand Coulee Dam.
Sometimes I think that our chaotic life does not allow for the level of learning that I would like to see…but judging from my son working on his annual assessment, I think I can start letting go of that perception and start enjoying the ride. Some days I don’t exactly know how they continue to be so inquisitive, how they learn so, so much. Hopefully some day soon I will get over the idea that teaching comes from inside out and truly, 100%, trust. I mean how many times do my kids have to show me this reality before I really do?