Really random thoughts today. There have been many going through my head as of late, and I’m so slow in updating here, that I thought I’d take advantage of a quiet Saturday morning to try and get some of them down.
Overall, school is just going really, really well this year. Right now Abigail is studying World War 1… In most of my history classes in school growing up, we learned some of World War 1, but nothing like what we’re learning now. Not even close! It’s amazing. Truly amazing to read how this war is unfolding, and about how it started with just a few countries and rapidly escalated to envelop most of the globe. It’s extremely interesting to me to see that much of how the world is today is a direct result of the actions of World War 1- which was almost 100 years ago!! It really was The Great War, as it was called then. As Abigail and I have been reading aloud her history, more often than not, Zander will end up joining us because he is equally fascinated, and loves seeing the different maps and pictures of warships and artillery.
French is still going well. The immersion method of studying a language is interesting… we learn key phrases and use the language in real life situations instead of starting at the beginning of a language and simply learning words, verbs, nouns, etc. At the same time, the kids keep asking what certain things are in French, so in addition to our Power Glide curriculum, I picked up a book of reproduceable French activities, which basically tells us things like the alphabet, months of the year, and then goes on to show us everyday objects and activites and gives us the French words for them. We’re enjoying it quite a bit.
As I’ve been watching Zander explode with a desire to learn, I’ve been so, so incredibly grateful that I held off on “teaching” him. You know, we could have started with him young and he probably would have been fine, but holding him off and really waiting to start him on his own path of education is proving to be extremely rewarding. He wants to learn, is the crux of it. There’s no pulling of teeth, there’s no fighting with him to do his work- he WANTS to do it. There are days where he will look ahead in one of his workbooks and just decide that he needs to do more than the assigned pages. Or he’ll decide he wants to finish his reading book two days early.
I have to attribute his attitude to holding him off to the real nitty-gritty of school. I’ve read many studies of different cultures around the world and how they do school, and I always come back to the education system of Sweden. They don’t start any formal schooling until the age of 7 there! And then their school cycle is not 12 years plus kindergarten and preschool. It’s just nine years of schooling- and they are producing some of the most brilliant minds on the planet.
Now, I couldn’t hold Zander off until seven, but I wish I could have! I remember well the pressure when he was 3 and 4 from other parents to get him in a preschool program so he wouldn’t be behind the other kids in school. I didn’t enroll him until the year he turned five, and then decided to homeschool after that. The thing is, by waiting and holding off as long as I could, I was allowing his brain to mature and get ready for learning. The result is that when we finally started formally teaching (and I use the term formally very, very loosely) he took to it so naturally. He’s flying through his schooling now because he was ready. I wish more people would choose to hold off their kids until they are ready. For some, maybe they are ready at four years old for formal schooling. But for others, it may not be until six- there are some kids who aren’t really reading well until eight or nine. Each child is different, but one thing is certain- starting your kids early doesn’t give them “an advantage” over other kids. It can actually make things worse by trying to force their brains to do something they simply aren’t prepared to do. I think this principle also carries over to other activities like sports and the arts. I see it with my kids and dance- I didn’t let either of them start dance until they were six, and you certainly cannot tell the difference between Abigail and the kids who were dancing at the age of three. That’s not to say there’s no value in those activities for little ones, but if the motivation is a head start, it’s simply unfounded. At some point, every child has a point of acceleration where they just really dig in and learn, and at some point, every child has that point where they need to slow down and process what has been learned. The important thing is to know your child- and to know that each child is an individual. What is working right now for Abigail in fifth grade has a good chance of not working for Zander when he gets there, because he is a different person and learns at a different pace.
Which has me looking ahead to next year already. Everything is going so well, and I’m trying to roll around in my brain our plan for next year. If we continue our schedule as is, we’ll be finished with school the third week in May. Our goal is to be done by Memorial Day, and I like the idea of having off from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but this year I’m thinking about adding some summer schooling. I really, really love the idea of year-round schooling, because three weeks seems to be the perfect amount of time to take off at once. I could totally see doing six weeks of school followed by three weeks off. But I doubt I could get my kids to agree to that big plan. So I’m thinking about a summer school session- mostly to give Abigail a head start on her core, because the one she’ll be heading into is the most intense, as she’ll be doing a very in-depth study of the Eastern Hemisphere- something that most kids don’t even get until college. Zander will begin his first half of a two year study of World History, so a jump start for him wouldn’t be terrible either. I’m thinking some kind of a study of the globe itself, and memorizing where countries are and their capitols. But we’ll see on that. Summer seems to have a way of getting away from us sometimes.
Other than that, the only major decision to be made regarding schooling is with Zander’s math. He really wants to be able to do Teaching Textbooks like Abigail. I have two problems with that. One is that the Singapore Math is amazing for him. I was telling Andy last night that I never have to do math again- I just ask my human calculator who is seven to add, subtract, multiply or divide, and he does it in seconds in his head. My second problem with switching to Teaching Textbooks is that he would likely place in the fourth or fifth grade curriculum, and I’m just not sure about that plan, as it will put him in pre-algebra in sixth grade. But we’ll see. I’ll have him do some placement tests at the end of this school year and see how he does.
Otherwise, I have a solid plan in mind for next year and am socking away the money into savings so that this year I can order straight up and not have to piece together my cores at the last minute. I spent so much more money doing it that way. So this year I’m planning well ahead, and I hate to admit it, but as much as I’ve LOVED studying American History, I am looking forward to something different for a few years. And when I really think on that, I’m flabbergasted, because I feel like we’ve studied American History in-depth, when really, this was an introduction and an overview- the in-depth will be tackled freshman year of high school for both.
It must be time for me to stop randomizing thoughts, because I just mentioned high school. We have a few years yet for that, thank goodness!