Question #2

Another question that I am frequently asked is, “How do you know they are keeping up?” My first thought is, “keeping up with whom?” But I know that question means, “are your kids keeping up with public school children of similar ages.”

I have spoken with two moms recently who told me that their children, although curious and smart are ‘reading behind their grade level’ and ‘performing below’ the others in their class and have been labeled ‘struggling learners’. I asked them what they believed when their kids were developing as infants – did they believe learning would all come in due time? What if the pressure was removed to perform a certain activity, in a certain month or year, and waited (gasp) until that child produced that skill on their own. You know the stories of how people say, “he won’t go to college in diapers!” I believe it can be the same for other skills they need.

I know families that allow children to gain skills at the time and pace the child desires and their children did not read until 9, and then read voraciously for years after that, above “grade level”. I know of a family whose child was exposed to no formal math until their teen years and was able to easily master what would be considered *YEARS* of math in several short months. What if curiousity and developmental readiness matter way more than the mainstream thought leaves room for.

What about a child that learns faster than ‘average’. I remember people asking me about ‘keeping up’ when Gavin was working from math workbooks labeled ‘Grade 5’ when he would have been in second grade. He was reading books that would have been considered way “above grade level”. I was glad he had the freedom to move at the pace that worked for him. This is the child that sat up at 5 months, crawled at 6 months, pulled up at 8 months and did not walk until 14 months?! Development can be a funny thing.
There is nothing magical about the timeline when kids are presented with American History, Shakespeare, World Geography, look at the works of artistic masters, develop pie charts, use mapping skills, or learn about the Greeks and Romans. (upcoming Question #3 will cover another frequently asked question, “What if you miss something?”) If you think that ‘keeping up’ means we study the same things that the public school does, and at the same times, and in the same way then we will have to tell you that we don’t intend to ‘keep up’.

Maybe it’s easier for me to see, with the children that I have been charged with, because they have *very* different timelines, capacities, learning styles, and interests. But Ethan is right where Ethan is supposed to be, Gavin is right where Gavin is supposed to be, Mikey is right where Mikey is supposed to be, and Seany….well he is never where he is supposed to be!

1 thought on “Question #2

  1. Erfida

    I love your blog!
    This one comes on the heels of a discussion I was having with a friend about letting kids find their own way.
    One point on which we went around and around was is their an age at which your child “should” do X and if they aren’t, do you start making them study it. Our example was reading and the age was 8. My friend felt that by 8 years old he would be very concerned and would force the issue. (It’s all hypothetical as he has no kids, and wouldn’t plan on homeschooling, certainly not unschooling, if he did, and my kids both read well before the tipping point).
    Ultimately, we agreed that it was bad parenting he was against. While I think I argued the case of unschooling well, I’d be interested to hear someone’s opinion who lives it. I admit freely that I am not nearly so free in my homeschooling endeavors as you seem to be. It won’t be until September that my kids will “supposed” to be in school and instead will be learning under my scatterbrained guidance;-)

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