Wednesday, February 23, 2011

There will be more to come...

I first have to reclaim my laptop from my 7 year old and 5 year old. They recently discovered the world of Webkinz and have laid claim to my laptop for one or two hours a day since. Not only that, they are actively getting me addicted to the arcade games on Webkinz, after all they get the benefit of the webkinz cash. Insert eye roll here. I have several layouts finished this weekend, that I will be posting over the next few days.

In the meantime, I read something that struck me. Many of you know that I homeschool my children. In one homeschool newsletter I was reading this morning I read the following:

"Expectation: A standard of performance expected of someone. When I read this definition, several things struck me. First, that a standard of performance has been set and accepted. For many years, educational standards were just observations of what children commonly learned at different ages or grades. Tests assessed whether a child had learned what most other children the same age had learned. Meeting commonly held standards meant that you generally knew what others your age knew. Since standards didn't seek to accelerate progress, most students did, in fact, match up with their age mates eventually.

Somewhere along the line, those expectations changed from being descriptive (telling what children learned) to prescriptive (telling what children should learn). As you know as a parent, observing what your child knows versus what she should know is an entirely different feeling. One is informational, and the other is stressful. The stress comes because you have to change your child to fit the standards."

Emphasis added. What do you think? As a first time mom, we watch our children avidly for those first skills: grabbing a small object, rolling over, lifting up on their arms, etc. And often we take our babies to the pediatricians at the first sign of their NOT accomplishing a milestone "on time", only to have the pediatrician tell us, "Go home. Relax, all kids do not do things at the same pace or in the same way." So we relax. We reassure ourselves that they will accomplish those things, they may just take a little longer.

Is this applicable to education? Have our standards progressed from being descriptive to prescriptive as the author states? Are we pushing our children too much, too fast?

I have a healthy respect for old schoolhouses, those one room schoolhouses. Everyone at different levels learning together. The one thing I have taken from my reading about those schoolhouses is the focus on basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic. In my opinion, we cannot progress in our learning if we do not have those basics mastered. Yes, mastered.

So in our school day, math, phonics, and reading get priority. Those are our first three subjects of the day. Sometimes those are the only schoolwork we get accomplished. And in my opinion that is okay. I don't need for my 7 year old to understand ancient history, or astronomy, or speak Spanish, or play the piano like Mozart. I need her to be able to read, write, and do math. Everything else is just icing on the cake. I don't need to compare my teaching to the public school's curriculum, because, in my opinion, they try to do too much in too little detail. All the civics, social sciences, teaching tolerance, and exposure to different cultures. Sounds great. But it's detracting from the basics. I can do the civics, social sciences, tolerance, and expanding their horizons in our daily lives out and about town. And certainly as they get older they will be studying more subjects in more detail.

But right now? If they can read me an age appropriate book, I'm stoked. There is nothing better in the world. And to see my daughter's face when she realized she got every problem correct on her math test. Opinions?

Thanks for visiting as always!

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