Home education, natural learning, un-schooling, child-led learning…
There are many ways of describing what we’re taking steps towards doing, but it basically means that Jamie won’t be going to school till he’s at least 7. This doesn’t for 1 second mean both our boys aren’t getting an ‘education’ at home, or not learning a massive amount each day. It’s just a different way of doing it.
So, what i’m going to try and do is write a series of posts about the subject, as I read whatever book I happen to be reading on the subject. Right now i’m reading, ‘You are Your Child’s First Teacher’, by Rahima Baldwin Dancy.
I’m reading the chapter 12 on cognitive development and early childhood education, as all the previous chapters refer to earlier developmental stages. I’ll probably go back to them at some point, but this seems like a good place to start. I might do bullet points, or full sentences but the main points will come across clearly either way.
– Physical development and academic environments: One approach is to not teach formally until the adult teeth have been fully grown (age 6-7). So, general play activities until the body is more developed and the energy needed for its intense early growth is freed for forming mental pictures and memory work.
– Academic stress as an obstacle to early physical and mental development: pushing academic pressures onto a 3, 4, 5 or 6 year old can have far-reaching negative impacts. This can be in the form of reading difficulties, with an example given of studies between 5 and 7 year olds. The 5 year olds were more likely to develop reading problems and didn’t achieve better progress, while the older children learnt faster and more willingly.
This is a key point. If you are able of your own free will to attempt a task, or to learn something, you will achieve this far more effectively. Our approach is to promote a love of learning, not about anything specific, but as a general principle. The rest is up to them (and us to a certain degree). This is sustainable over your whole life. You have to want to do something for it to really sink in and to be able to sustain an interest in it.
– Copying sentences & connections to meaning: studies have shown even 2 year olds can learn flash cards or how to copy sentences, but there is no connection or understanding of what this means. ‘The human brain neither needs nor profits from attempts to ‘jumpstart’ it.’ (p.272)
– Children in more academic environments tend to be less creative and more anxious: The last thing I want to do is remove my boys obvious creativity. By that I don’t mean I want them to grow up to be artists, I just don’t want to limit what they can achieve or who they can become. Creativity can mean anything from being an artist to simply working out different ways to do something – vital for day to day life.
– Every child is different / remember to be flexible: ‘There is no need to seek out preschool if you and your child are doing well at home; there is also no need to avoid it or feel guilty if your child is eager to play with other children and welcomes the activities a guided program can provide.’