Drug testing

Learning my Childs Way

Home schooling. What is it? What does it mean to you? How do you home school? These were just some of the questions I had when we started thinking about home schooling our children.

While our daughter was a baby, I started reading articles in the paper about the local schools. Our school district was in financial trouble. They were cutting services and staff over and over again. The elementary schools were eliminating librarians, day time janitors, band, and the parents were fund raising for a crossing guard. That's when I realized that the local public school would not be anything like the school I went to.

Our first step was checking out the private school options. There are three Montessori schools within a 20 minute drive, a variety of Christian schools, and a Waldorf school about 45 minutes away. As I went and sat in classrooms, I realized that I didn't want my daughter spending most of her childhood in those classrooms. Nothing seemed to fit what I saw as her needs for education.

It didn't take me long to realize that home learning could be the best choice for Katherine. She is an intelligent child who does things in her own time. She didn't start talking until she was about 2.5 years old. About a year latter, we went through a speech assessment to find out if there were any long term problems. She could say all of the sounds of a 2 year old, less than half of the sounds of three and four year olds and almost all the sounds of five and six year olds! The final assessment was that her speech development did not fit the norm, but was OK. What if they hadn't tested her for the more advanced sounds? The results would have been very different.

This test echoed the developmental patterns we had seen with Katherine from the beginning. Any time I tried to compare her to a chart, she was fine at the levels below, had some of the skills at her current level, but quite a few from the level above. While I think she might like all the kids in the classroom, I am afraid that she will be labelled as 'below average' because she doesn't fit their standard tests. I do not want her public schools. Home learning was no longer a choice, but a very firm decision.

Fortunately, we live in a popular home learning area with some of the best legislation for home learners in Canada. I had never planned to home school, and wasn't quite sure what it meant. I did know people whose children learned at home, and it seemed to work for their families. I subscribed to one of the two local newsletters and started listening to conversations about learning at home.

I liked what I read, saw and thought about. Most of my remaining doubts were about me as a teacher. I love my children, our 6 year-old daughter Katherine, now has a 3 year-old brother Duncan. I feel priveledged to be spending their childhoods with them. However I do get impatient, need my own space some times, and don't have a teaching background. Could we home learn? We would try and see what happened.

An experienced home learning parent had told me about a great activity they did tracing coins and learning about money. Although Katherine was only 4y at the time, she loved coins and it sounded perfect for us. I picked a time when she and I wouldn't get interrupted, gathered the materials, and sat down to teach her about money. ( Experienced home learning parents are probably having a great laugh at this point. )

We started to trace the coins on paper to show how five pennies make a nickel, and two nickels make a dime. Much to my surprise, Katherine was not enjoying herself. She refused to count the number of pennies with me, wouldn't help trace circles, and became generally difficult. Finally I was so annoyed I just put everything away. She came up and hugged me and said 'I still love you Mommy'. My heart melted, but the doubts in my abilities remained.

A week latter, Katherine was watching TV and told me which three shows which shows were listed on the screen. She had never even watched one of the shows. I sat in stunned silence. She was right. Was it a good guess? Had she memorized them or could she read? I hadn't planned to 'teach' her how to read until she was 7 or 8. We hadn't even started any language lessons. What was going on? This event was not part of the plans I had been making for her home schooling education.

Truthfully, I don't think she could read that day, but I'm not certain about that statement. She is quite capable of selectively answering our questions when it suits her. We knew she could sing the alphabet song, and recognize some letters. I have been able to discover that she knows what all the letters look like, and can correctly tell us which letter starts most words ('My grandmother's name is Margery, what letter does Margery start with?"), even when she has never seen or heard the word before.

My husband and I have talked about this situation a few times. When she choses to answer our questions, we find out she knows way more than either one of us thought she did. She has correctly found a show she would like to watch listed in the TV Guide, much to my amazement since the look of the words in the TV Guide is very different from the logo with the show's name on TV. It's not just sight recognition. We don't know where or how she has learned these skills.

What has become clear is that Katherine doesn't need me to 'teach' her or have a master plan for her education. I do have to provide a good learning environment, answer her questions, help when she asks, and watch her learn.

I knew she would learn to walk, talk, and all those hundreds of other things babies are suppose to learn in their first few years. There is no reason to create an artificial line between life learning and academic learning. For me, that was one of the reasons I thought home learning was great. Yet I still fell into the trap of trying to artificially set-up a teaching situation. No wonder Katherine wanted nothing to do with my planned lesson.

I have to remember to trust her. She loves learning in her own way, at her own pace. Now if I can just stay out of her way, she will to a great job all by herself. I am looking forward to having a wonderful time watching her grow and learn in the coming years. I just hope I can remember what I learned from our first home lesson.

Christine Nicholls loves being mommy to Katherine who is now 9y and Duncan who is 6y. Her business, Creative Kids at Home (http://www.ckah.com) lets her combine her skills and business background with full-time parenting, and is a lot of fun for her kids.

In The News:

Beachgoers in Bonita Spring, Florida were treated to a strange sight last week: an alligator going for a swim.
A remarkable map created in space over 50 years ago could lead a modern-day explorer to the sites of treasure-laden shipwrecks in the Bahamas.
Scientists studying bones unearthed from an ancient tomb in China’s Shaanxi Province have discovered the remains of a new but totally extinct species of ape.
Mars may be known as the Red Planet, but it's a "blue dune" image NASA has released that's got everyone talking.
Experts in Italy say they have found the earliest surviving work by Leonardo da Vinci.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is pouring £3million ($4 million) into a project to create killer mosquitoes that destroy each other through sex.
Bedrock under Antarctica is rising more swiftly than ever recorded — about 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) upward per year. And thinning ice in Antarctica may be responsible.
A new study validates Einstein's theory of general relativity in a distant galaxy for the first time.
On Mars, the sky is dust.
A small moon rock gifted to Cambodia by the United States amid the Vietnam War has resurfaced after being all but lost to time and strife.

Celebrating Life with Children in September

Here are ten simple pleasures you can enjoy with your... Read More

Puberty - Get Ready to Play the Puberty Game

Puberty can be a difficult time for children. Not quite... Read More

Five Ways To Build Super-Strong Relationships With Your Children

One of the questions I ask in parenting presentations is... Read More

Homeschooling ? Is It Worth It?

Suppose that you rearrange your life to homeschool your child... Read More

Is There Any Real Use For A Fun Quiz?

Q. I don't like my children spending so much time... Read More

Will My Child Ever Out-grow His Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

If your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder then at... Read More

MORAL ARMORS Irrational Parenting, Part I

"If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think... Read More

Parenting Failure? It May Not Be All It Seems!

I'll never forget my first lesson in a glider.I'd been... Read More

Dad, Go Ahead and Cry

She slipped her small, soft eight-year-old hand into mine. Her... Read More

Free Stuff for Twins: Incentives for Parents of Multiple Births

A sure way to double the joys of parenthood is... Read More

What Do You Teach Your Children About Money?

Whether we realize it or not we teach our children... Read More

Ten Ways to Help Your Child Make Friends

Nothing touches the heartstrings of a parent or teacher more... Read More

I WONT DO IT! Tips for Working with the Oppositional Child

"I WON'T DO IT!" "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"Whether parent or... Read More

Its OK For Your Child To Be Bored - In Fact, Its Recommended!

NY -- Strange as it may sound, bordom promotes happier,... Read More

13 Ways to Spend Time with Your Teenage Daughter

The older my daughter gets the more it's sinking in... Read More

Really Good News About Your Children?s Video Games

Research published by University of Rochester neuroscientists C. Shawn Green... Read More

Top Ten Things Parents Must Know About State Academic Standards (What Your Child s/b Learning)

Public education in the United States has never been equal... Read More

Powerful Tips for Increasing Your Childs Self-Esteem

Here is a list of ways to convey the message... Read More

Delightful Defrazzlers

I will cherish this moment. I will not let it... Read More

Refresher Course on Diapering for Dads

It's among the top criticism wives have of their husbands:... Read More

6 Great Freebie Resources for Parents of Twins & Multiple Births

A sure way to double the joys of parenthood is... Read More

Children are People, Not Machines

When growing up, my father frequently reminded me to "pay... Read More

Your Company Vehicle is a Portable Bill Board; A word of advice on children passengers

Child Safety Restraints and children in work vehiclesIf you take... Read More

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What is Impulsivity?

Impulsivity is one of the hallmarks of people with Attention... Read More

6 Ways to Communicate Clearly with Your Teen

How would you like to have a closer relationship with... Read More

led parking lot light fixtures street lighting Pete's produce ..