Meducation

So, a new feature to help get me to post with some regularity: Mondays, I’m going to talk about Homeschooling. I’m missing the traditional alliterative quality of such features—Meducational Mondays just lacks that certain something (namely sense). I have been planning for a long time to start home preschool when Joey turns two, but dithering about whether to start right at his birthday or wait until after the holidays. Then I had a series of conversations that led me to check the two-year milestones and see that he’s significantly behind in language, after being well ahead of the curve right up until Kit was born. So we’re starting just a hair early. For now, I’m picking a theme for each week and then several activities for each day, trying to include an art activity and a book; we’re only doing an hour a day, and that is already quite a strain on his attention span. Day 1, last Monday, was pretty rocky—he is not excited about doing anything he is asked to do, and he hadn’t slept well the night before. I knew going in that he knew at least red, blue, and green, but now think that he knows all the colors; for one activity, I had a book of colors and for each page, was encouraging him to hand me the plastic link that was the same color as the color on that page (using those plastic links that come in chains as baby toys). For every page, he handed me every single wrong color and left the correct color behind—he was making a point but also accidentally letting me know that he is able to match the colors. Things did improve somewhat as the week went on, especially since Friday I could see that he was tired and kept things very casual.

I’ve got sort of a philosophical dilemma when it comes to teaching Joey. On the one hand, I want him to be able to be as free as possible to do whatever he likes in the only years of his life during which that’s remotely possible. On the other hand, doing so isn’t making him happy, and he’s falling behind his peers in terms of knowledge and skills.—Okay, that makes it sound like I turn him out to set fires in the back yard all afternoon, which is not the case. He has quite a set of rules and boundaries that we consistently enforce, he is disciplined by the loss of things he is persistently abusing and/or time ins. He wears clothes and eats regular meals. We read books every day, but he chooses that. Sitting him down and telling him that now he has to color makes me feel guilty. But as I say, he’s not very happy recently (by which I mean for the last five months), so I’m certainly willing to make a change. Will schooling make him happier?

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7 thoughts on “Meducation

  1. I have no idea about schooling and happiness, but I love his deliberate-wrong-answer strategy. Mara did that for a while and it was a way for her to break out of her perfectionism by controlling how she was wrong and getting to be okay with being wrong, though I’m not sure if that’s an issue for him.

  2. I think I’m torn on calling it “schooling” at such a young age. To me, this is just play time, albeit playtime that can be educational. But so is dumping sand from one container to another. Find tasks that you both enjoy and the learning aspect will follow along. Have fun!

    • I agree with you, I think, but calling it school both makes me feel less guilty and ensures that at this certain time each day I am paying focused attention to him and that we’re working together.

  3. When Noah was about two and a half I realized that I had to upend our days and start doing things differently because he was so BORED and going through a developmental burst where he was also super angry with me as he tried to become more independent. It was a really hard few months and I spent more times than I like to remember crying on the other side of a closed door while he screamed and banged on the door because we were both so mad at each other. But then I adjusted and he adjusted and eventually we found our new normal. To me it sounds totally normal that he pulled back in some developmental ways while he surged forward in others (becoming an older sibling requires a lot of energy and smarts! Lots of growing there!) and I think he will likely catch up especially if you’re making a deliberate effort to work with him.

    As far as feeling guilty about adding more structure? If it makes you both happier then it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit your idea of how it ought to be. I had the opposite thing when we started homeschooling and Noah made it crystal clear that he was an unschooler even though I still had visions of classical homeschooling dancing in my head (sigh — I will take a moment here and bow my head in memory of my grand homeschooling plans!!!). On the other hand, Madison who has been an unschooler from the get-go has decided she wants to do virtual school starting this January because she wants more structure.

    They have ways of making sure we meet their needs, eh?

    • I feel a little less guilty now; today Joey said his first sentence. (“Plane fly back there.”) In the week and a half since I’ve started, he has started to respond. More on this Monday.

  4. Maybe breaking the activities up into smaller chunks sprinkled through out the day would help? 10 minute craft then free play, then a 10 minute game then free play etc.

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