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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Learning anytime without even "doing school"

One of the things I've gleaned from other homeschooling & blogging parents is that if you homeschool, all the time is “school-time.” Whereas, I think, if you put your children in institutional schools, you may help them with homework; but since the bulk of the curriculum has been delegated (abdicated?) to professional instructors, you really aren't on top of your child's learning.

Now, that may seem somewhat prejudiced, and perhaps it is. And even premature, given that the oldest of our two boys is only just starting on phonics. But even at this early stage, I've felt so blessed to know exactly what he's learning. And I'm able to integrate it into such seemingly insignificant things as bedtime reading. Because Lois is the primary “schoolteacher,” and I pitch in on occasion, I am quite aware that Matthew has recently mastered individual letter sounds (e.g., “the short vowel sound of 'A' is...”). And Lois has been trying to move forward onto reading two-letter combinations, such as “an” and “en” with some success. But moving to three letters has seemingly resulted in a wall of incomprehension on Matthew's part.

All that's to say, even as this evening I read him a picture book called Freight Trains, that because I know precisely where Matthew's at in reading skills -- something that I think is a virtual impossibility if we're not homeschooling -- I can read to him and teach at the same time! As I read the big words on one side of the book, I paused each time I saw a simple three-letter word and asked him to sound out the letters. I then modeled for him composing those sounds into a word! Without forcing the issue in a “formal teaching” environment, but almost casually, I really believe that he'll pick it up quicker than if we try to hammer it home... and quicker than if we “wait for him to show signs of readiness”. And certainly quicker than a teacher with a classroom of students can address his needs.

So neat. And also so enjoyable for me as a father to be able to participate in his learning in such intimate ways.