Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Temptations to Home School

After talking to many young moms about their child's first few years in formal school, I sense parents are frustrated with the new focus to "teach" kids as early as Pre-School and Kindergarten.

I remember only a few of my own pre-k days. My preschool memories consist of getting sick on the day I was to bring class treats, dressing up as the Queen of Hearts (imagine my excitement when another dear friend had on the same outfit) for fairy tale day, being teased for having a "baby pig tails" hairdo, getting in trouble during snack time for giggling too much with my very best friend in the whole wide world, and cheating on the test to see if we could tie our shoe. Yup, sounds like great memories!

The point is, all those memories are of social experiences. They all involve interactions with other 4-year-olds. They all add up to learning how to behave in an educational setting. None of them involve learning to read or write or add or subtract.  I do still have an "All About Me" book we made in class. You can tell we were learning our numbers, letters, colors, shapes (and suppose to be learning) how to tie our shoes, and much more. I remember feeling so guilty for having a table mate tie my "All About Me" shoe page.  I had her tie it because I thought I needed every possible page in my book, but I later found out you weren't penalized if you were unable to complete a page task. You simply left that page out of your book. Many kids were missing a few pages here and there, and in the end I think I missed a couple as well. There was no pressure to master any standards. I worry that aspect of pre-school and kindergarten is changing.

I'd like to think today's preschools have the same overall teaching goals: don't eat glue, don't run with scissors, tuck in your chair, learn how to stand in a line, learn how to be part of a learning environment.  It really should be that simple. Sadly, it isn't.  I came across a list of "72 Things Your Child Must Know Before Kindergarten." It was daunting.  Sure, I'll try to teach Reid his shapes before I send him off on the school bus, but is it really that terrible if a 5 year old doesn't know all his shapes?  It shouldn't be!  And most importantly, what about all the children who don't have parents at home to teach and support their pre-K learning. Are they really entering Kindergarten disadvantaged by almost 72 points!

I read a fabulous article the other day about how pressuring young students to learn, and teaching them through direct instruction, may actual create less enthused, less creative learners.  I fully agree with this research and I really fear our nation's pre-schools and kindergartens aren't following that evidence.

I understand why frustrations with the continual push to educate through direct instruction leads many parents to home school young children. I also understand that as a stay-at-home parent, you/we spend every day of the first 4 or 5 years of our child's life with them, nearly hour to hour. At age 4 or 5 we might not feel our child is ready to go out in to that great big world.  And some honestly aren't ready. With these reasons in mind, I can totally understand why parents choose to home school.

Another advantage of home schooling (one Ben sights often) is that you can add a "gospel" subject.  During your literature unit or your story time, you can include the tales of Abinadi and Jonah and so many other inspirational Later-day Saint stories.  This too is appealing.

And finally, if you look at the surface of home school research you'll find that home school graduates are going to top Universities around the country. And more than 3 out of 4 of them do go to college (a higher rate than their public school peers). They pass standardized tests at higher rates then their public school peers, a much higher rate actually

I understand the appeal. Research shows us home school can yield great results. Plus, you don't have to worry about the occasional "bad teacher" which every child is bound to have once in their 13 years of public school. You can work with your child at the rate that is best for them. You can focus on the subjects your child shows the most interest in. You can add a gospel oriented curriculum. You get to keep your child in the safety of your home, under your complete control.

And that's always where my mind stops and says:  Nope, bad, bad idea.

But I'll focus on that tomorrow.    

2 comments:

Tiff said...

I like having the option to home school. In case something is going really wrong at school like extreme bullying or the school isn't meeting the needs of my child for some reason I'm glad I could home school my kids if they needed it.

That being said, I don't prefer it because I feel like we need our space to learn and grow. There's a woman in my ward who has 5 kids and home schools them which doesn't leave her any time by herself and it doesn't leave opportunities for her kids to interact with other kids and adults without her around besides church.

There are some bad things about going to school for sure. There are really mean kids, temptations, and, feelings of inadequacy. You definitely have to prepare your kids for that kind of stuff.

tamikate said...

I am afraid that my children would be stuck with a REALLY bad teacher if I home schooled. But I wont lie I am really thinking about it.

I appreciate your thoughts on pre-K knowledge. I feel so behind all of the time with the "my son recognizes all of his numbers" moms out there I sometimes allow myself to feel as if I am not up to par or just flat out a bad mom. (which I am a lot of the time but that is beside the point).

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