Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kittyboy, Counting and Homeschooling

Christus resurrexit!
Vere resurrexit!
(the Paschal greeting in Latin)

Kittyboy has this rolling toy that counts to ten (in the creepy Fisher Price toy voice). It counts a number every time the wheels roll. He stepped on it coming in the door, it said "One!" and he immediately said, "Two!" Plain as day, nice and loud. I've been working on one and two, having him hand me one or two clothespins when I'm hanging laundry (not that he would actually hand me one or two when I ask, more like "Mommy needs one clothespin! Now Mommy needs two clothespin!"). Now I guess he can say at least the number 2 out loud! I think we need to find things to count one and two, and ask, "What comes after one? What comes after two?"
Last year, I was researching Montessori schools, thinking that if we had a prayer of affording it, it'd be a good match for Kittyboy, because of allowing the child to learn just as fast as he can. All I remember of third grade was that we seemed to spend months and months on nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Hello, how hard is that??? I learned it in a couple days. I spent the rest of the year, it seemed, reading a book hidden in my desk, to the great annoyance of the teacher. A more adversarial child would have come out and said, "This is boring and stupid, can we move ON?" and gotten in even more trouble, which I didn't. I just passively read my book and didn't pay attention... because it was, well, boring and stupid. When it came time to do state reports, which is the only other thing I remember of third grade, I wrote my report on Pennsylvania - and then re-wrote it. I read it over, and dumbed down some sections. Simpler sentence structure, more basic vocabulary. I'm pretty sure I didn't deliberately misspell anything or change punctuation, that would have pained my pride too much, but I may have erased a comma here and there. Why? Because I'd already picked up on the fact that thanks to my mother's English degree and father's newspaper experience as reporter and editor, I did not write like my classmates. I did not speak like my classmates. And I was just sure that the teacher who expected us to take months to learn that red was not a noun would accuse me of plagiarism.
Don't get me wrong, I got along way better with teachers in following years than I did with the 3rd grade one. There were parts of school that I LOVED. There were more parts that I just - went through. There were other parts I hated.
There are kids who do great in public schools. There are kids who just go through them because they have to. And there are many types of children for whom it's not necessarily the best fit. What do you do when you're really, really good in one class but slow in another? Or you're ahead in everything - but you don't test well? Or instead of telling someone, "Hey, I know all this, can I work ahead?" the child is just bored and becomes bored with school in general?
So here I am with a toddler who will probably fall into the category of "very bright but doesn't test well", researching homeschooling curricula. And over the last year, Husband has gone from saying, "Oh, but he SHOULD go to preschool, he needs socialization" to "If you think you can homeschool, go for it," apparently without suffering whiplash. I think part of his change of mind is owing to Kittyboy making it abundantly clear that he is one of Those Children who will NOT go along to get along if he's not interested in what's going on. I can't see Kittyboy fitting well in a classroom, and I haven't come up with a way to nicely say to the frustrated teacher, "Well, maybe if he's not paying attention, it's because he's bored with what you're teaching?" I don't think teachers are superhuman, but I think they are expected to perform as such, and it's impossible. I think they are totally human, and only capable of so much, and far too much is expected of them, the result being that they absolutely cannot be and do everything they are expected to be and do for every single child who enters their classroom. I have the utmost respect for them - but their job is impossible. I'm going to make it easier, by giving them one less child with whom to struggle.
So now that Husband's open to it, I'm going for it. His change of mind might also be owing to the number of homeschooling children we've recently met - Kittyboy's best friend who is eight is homeschooled, there's a family at church who homeschools (and their fourteen-year-old is learning Latin), and all of these children are VERY social. I like that Kittyboy's friends are older than he, because instead of the Lord of the Flies social environment of children all in one age group learning social skills together, he sees behavior modeled by the older children and learns from that. And that's as it should be, children are supposed to learn from older children and grownups about acceptable social behavior - not their fellow four-year-olds. Gradeschool children learning social interaction from each other is like fifteen-year-olds teaching Driver's Ed.
Homeschooling, here we come!


Pres. Kathy said...

Many blessings with you homeschooling.

~Jenna said...

you can do it! and kittyboy will blossom because of it! all 3 of mine are happy, healthy, educated, and socialized :) (i too was homeschooled until college)

Mimi said...

You will be fantastic.

Caeseria said...

I told the homeschooling mom of four at church that I was "going to" homeschool, and she said, "Oh, but you're doing it already! You taught him to walk! You taught him to eat! That's what homeschooling IS!" I love that!