Is anyone else essentially already homeschooling their preschooler? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 03-11-2013, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wondering if anyone else has a young one who is thriving on (insisting on) huge amounts of information, worksheets, research, projects, etc even though they are "too young" for school?  

 

Anyone who has btdt and then entered them in school when the time came?  How did THAT go?

 

We don't plan to homeschool right now, but I happily would if it turned out to be what worked for her.  Right now, our top pick is a local independant school.  

 

But, I have surrendered to the fact that she is just so much happier if I keep the work/projects/sheets/research etc coming all day.  She has always been a very independent child with lots of independent play etc but the older she gets the more she wants me to help her learn what she wants to know.  

 

I mean, today was a relatively relaxed day but we still did several math games and activities, practiced writing, made a couple of rainbow art projects, read a dozen books on her current obsessions, watched you tube videos on gold, mining for gold,and how to tell if quartz is likely to have gold in it, etc, used books to identify the conifer cones and needles we gathered on a walk the other day, we did math with cake ingredients, made patterns with blocks, talked about bones and whales and Jupiter and and and...

 

It feels so weird sometimes to be printing off worksheets for my 3 yo...like...all those people who think we hothouse our kids would point and say "AHHA!!!  We knew it!!!!" eyesroll.gif  But....she wants them!!   I'm not trying to prep her for school, just trying to keep her happy! In fact, I worry about what it's going to mean when she GETS to school and has already done all these things.  I worry about her going from a day where she freely and intensely follows her interests to...school.  The school we are interested in is a WONDERFUL place...but it's still...school.  YKWIM?

 

So, this is all on my brain.  As I sit here searching pinterest for something to do tomorrow because heaven help me if I don't have enough.....


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#2 of 18 Old 03-11-2013, 07:13 PM
 
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I have felt quite strongly that young children, perhaps even especially those who have strong intellectual/academic gifts, are best encouraged into unstructured, creative, experiential learning. Stuff like imaginative and physical play, conversation, the stuff of daily life -- housework, gardening, sibling care, etc.. Not worksheets and research projects. We are a homeschooling family, but I've never been quite sure how to respond when people asked whether I was homeschooling the little one yet. Because certainly I facilitated my 3- and 4-year-olds' learning, just as I facilitated the 6 & 8-year-olds' learning. But that didn't involve setting them up with worksheets or projects. We are primarily unschoolers. If my kids wanted worksheets and assignments, it was usually because they were craving my attention, my engagement in their activities and my creativity, and they recognized that asking to do "schoolwork" was a pretty good way to entice me into interacting with them.

 

Rather than solving my kids' aimlessness for them, I've tried to teach them tools and support them in solving their own aimlessness. I'm always happy to have them play near me while I work, or to work alongside me at something that needs doing. But I do not think it is my job to entertain and stimulate them all day. I don't want them to become dependent on me to solve their moments of boredom, or to lead their education. It sometimes takes a lot of practice, but I think that giving kids fallow time to sort out for themselves is very important. During fallow time they can grapple with being bored and uninspired and dig within themselves for ideas, imagination and inspiration. My eldest was a little intellectual information-hoover whose pretend play was limited to mix-and-matched shufflings of the factoids she had picked up. But she wasn't particularly emotionally engaged by this stuff: it was just story salad. Until I pretty much stopped trying to stimulate and amuse her. Gradually an incredible capacity for imagination and imaginary play opened up in her. Before long she was inventing entire worlds with consistent characters with clear personalities and histories. Her imaginary play extended right up into her pre-teen years and helped develop her amazing gift in fiction writing. The only formal learning stuff we did with any of our kids prior to age 5 was in music, because I wanted that creative focus to balance their intellectual inclinations. At 5 we added a whiff of manipulative-based math "discovery lab." That was it.

 

I'm probably getting a skewed impression of your dd's days based on the little bits you've shared. But from what you wrote about your "relaxed" day it sounds like you're putting a ton of time and energy into academic type activities with your dd. Your description of your day involves probably three or four times more school-like activity than I've ever done with my kids as preschoolers or even as 6 or 8-year-olds. My 10-year-old is thriving with 60-90 minutes a day of academic learning and she's at an 8th grade level. 

 

About bricks-and-mortar schooling ... well, despite no academic-style learning in the early years my kids have not been great candidates for school. They were just on completely different planets from the rest of their age-mates in terms of interests and academic needs. By 13 or 14, given advanced standing and lots of latitude for independent-study courses, they've done well in an innovative high school. 

 

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#3 of 18 Old 03-11-2013, 08:18 PM
 
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There are a lot of things in school that are not covered in workbooks and work sheets. DS was pretty much like yours. Loved to read, loved to do work books. Inquired and studied about a lot of things that interested him. When he entered school, he was at least 6 grade levels ahead in reading and a few grade levels ahead in math. Science is also a strong suit. He hasn't however complained about being in school. His teacher(s) differentiate the students' work and even if there is a subject matter that is being taught that he already knows about, there are still some things that are new and interesting for him. I would follow your child's lead and just get her to love learning. When they love learning, they always find ways to learn no matter what the environment.
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#4 of 18 Old 03-12-2013, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

I'm probably getting a skewed impression of your dd's days based on the little bits you've shared. But from what you wrote about your "relaxed" day it sounds like you're putting a ton of time and energy into academic type activities with your dd. Your description of your day involves probably three or four times more school-like activity than I've ever done with my kids as preschoolers or even as 6 or 8-year-olds. My 10-year-old is thriving with 60-90 minutes a day of academic learning and she's at an 8th grade level. 

 

Miranda

 

I really appreciate your thoughts, Miranda. You have given me some things to think about.   I  have also always felt strongly that the best thing for small children is to be immersed in family life and to be given the chance to help and learn with the work that is going on. Cooking and gardening and folding laundry and preparing for holidays and caring for family etc have always been the stuff of our days.  And all of that still happens, plus independent creative play, lots of independent drawing and looking at books.  

 

But she has these deep burning questions she needs answers to lol.gif  And a simple answer or a "hmm, I wonder, what do you think?"  just doesn't cut it. She's not reading yet so unless she can deduce it from pictures or just KNOW it, she needs to ask ykwim?  So, a lot of what we do in a day is just to answer a question she has had, i.e. she NEEDED to know what trees those cones she found were from and where they find gold....and in the process we learned how to use her tree reference book so hopefully she can do it herself next time.

 

And I'm not one to over talk things....but she wants to know how the measuring cups work and relate to each other and wants to talk about how the 1/2 cup is like 1/2 a pizza?  I'm not going to say no!  I leave the writing practice sheets out because she wants so badly to write and she does them on her own here and there throughout the day.  

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is...it probably sounded up there like we sit and DO SCHOOL, directed by Mommy,  but really, most of what we do in a day still flows from her questions and the activities we are already doing and we do most of it in the middle of our normal daily stuff without a lot of extra effort.

 

But I agree that Benign Neglect is where it's at and I need to be sure to recognize when what she actually wants is ME. 


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#5 of 18 Old 03-12-2013, 08:34 AM
 
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I worried after writing that I had sounded unduly harsh and unsupportive. I'm glad you didn't get your hackles up; I apologize if what I wrote came across that way at all. I think you've pointed out some really great guiding principles: don't over-talk, and when you need to provide guidance (like with the tree guide) do so in a way that gives your child skills to manage more of the task herself next time. 

 

My eldest was born before the internet was what it now is, and oftentimes when she had a burning question that I didn't have a ready answer or child-appropriate resources to answer her with, I would just say "I guess I'll put that on our library list." Our library was out of town, so we only made it every 2 weeks. When we finally went, we would take the Library Research List off the fridge and look together for books that would help answer any of the questions she was still curious about. I think that having her curiosity validated but knowing that she had to wait for answers was a very helpful antidote to the tendency of all people, but young children especially, to expect instant gratification. I don't think it's necessarily right to contrive delays, but I did get the impression from your post that you feel the need to follow up on her questions quite thoroughly whenever she begins asking. That can become a fairly onerous all-day-long proposition if you're not careful -- being full-time research slave to a curious three-year-old -- so you might want to nudge things gently in the direction of "let's look that up tomorrow when we have our computer time."

 

I also got the impression from the last paragraph of your first post that you were feeling the need to spend time researching and brainstorming in order to find enough things to interest her and fill up her day. That was what struck me the most: that you seemed to be feeling like it was your job to find stuff to fill her days. I think that's where it's useful to keep in mind the subtle line between facilitating and leading. When I've been actively involved in planning something my kids are doing, I've always found it a useful check to ask whether I am putting more importance on this than on the non-GT stuff (for lack of a better term) that they're doing, and whether I'm taking any of the motivating and directing away from them with my enthusiastic "facilitation." 

 

Good luck finding the balance!

 

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#6 of 18 Old 03-12-2013, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I worried after writing that I had sounded unduly harsh and unsupportive. I'm glad you didn't get your hackles up; I apologize if what I wrote came across that way at all.

 

You are the voice I needed to talk me through the conflict in my own brain, ha.  So I thank you!

 

 I don't think it's necessarily right to contrive delays, but I did get the impression from your post that you feel the need to follow up on her questions quite thoroughly whenever she begins asking. That can become a fairly onerous all-day-long proposition if you're not careful -- being full-time research slave to a curious three-year-old -- so you might want to nudge things gently in the direction of "let's look that up tomorrow when we have our computer time."

 

Excellent point.  I do feel caught up in her NEED to know NOW...but I have to remember that when she becomes interested in something she usually doesn't let it go for weeks...or months...there is plenty of time to talk about it, look up what she wants to know, find books on our next trip to the library. So, if the answer I can give her from my brain isn't enough, further information doesn't have to be immediate...she can mull it over until later. 

 

I also got the impression from the last paragraph of your first post that you were feeling the need to spend time researching and brainstorming in order to find enough things to interest her and fill up her day. That was what struck me the most: that you seemed to be feeling like it was your job to find stuff to fill her days. I think that's where it's useful to keep in mind the subtle line between facilitating and leading. 

 

The thing I have the hardest time with here is the math she wants to do.  She wants math sheets and games and puzzles.  So I try to find enough to keep her happy.  I have been trying to pick some math materials and toys to have that she can PLAY with that might fill this need without needing me to do this for her....but I'm not sure what yet. She wants to sit and do pages of equations eyesroll.gif My fault, I guess, for introducing her to them in the first place, but I knew she would like them...I just didn't know HOW MUCH!  I would so much rather she engage with math in a tactile, visual, creative,  play based way right now (with manipulatives, fraction blocks, tangrams, etc) that she could come and go to during her day, on her own. 

 

Anyhow...obviously, I am probably overthinking a lot of this.  And the LAST thing I want to be is that mother who is overly involved in her children's day and wrapped up in her kids' lives to the exclusion of her own....I really do think children thrive with a lot of independent time and play and it's new that she wants this much from me so I'm trying to navigate it and do right by her but not screw her up.  And I am a worrier. No kidding, right? lol.gif

 

THANK YOU.


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#7 of 18 Old 03-12-2013, 07:27 PM
 
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I highly recommend searching this forum for threads with Roar.  There used to be a lot of conversations here about young, bright kids and self-direction and self-management.

 

I love Miranda adding it to the library list.  This is so great for a child's development.

 

I wanted to avoid having "a fast car with no tires."  My kids clearly had lots of interest, energy and appetite.  I worked really hard on building those collaterol skills - self-management, frustration tolerance, self-direction, "independence." 
 


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#8 of 18 Old 03-12-2013, 07:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

"If my kids wanted worksheets and assignments, it was usually because they were craving my attention, my engagement in their activities and my creativity, and they recognized that asking to do "schoolwork" was a pretty good way to entice me into interacting with them.

 

Thank you for writing this. I need to ponder on this for awhile. My DD is a fiercely independent learner so I never considered that she was "performing" to get me more involved but maybe I've been subtly encouraging her towards doing more and more academic work without being aware.

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#9 of 18 Old 03-13-2013, 01:42 AM
 
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I miss Roar! Where did she go? She always added a fresh perspective, in such a forthright way it made you sit up and shake the fog from your brain, sort of like a sudden gust of fresh cool air to the face.

 

I also do the library list, or rather it's  wikipedia list - ever since DS1 found out that I can access wikipedia on my kindle from anywhere he urges me to "just look it up now"! So we agree that he can look it up next time we have computer time. Without a list, we will both have forgotten what used to be so urgent, until it is again super urgent the following morning...

 

We could not homeschool even if we wanted to, as it is illegal where I live. So it was important for me to preempt as little as possible the material he will have to go over once he is in school anyway. He taught himself to read, so no use holding out there, but when he asked me to give him reading lessons during the process I refused, saying that he would get way more reading lessons in school than he was going to appreciate and I was happy to do other lessons with him. Music, arts, exercise, cooking, quirky science like the gold videos on youtube (during a set screen time, after he has done something productive for himself) are all great. It's great to have the time to explore all these now before school and homework eat up your time.

 

self-management, frustration tolerance, self-direction, "independence." what a great list, for any kid, but essential for a gifted kid who goes to school! Due to our recent experience, I would add graphomotor practice to the list, if she wants her handwriting to keep up at least partwayst with her brain.


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#10 of 18 Old 03-13-2013, 06:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to avoid having "a fast car with no tires."  My kids clearly had lots of interest, energy and appetite.  I worked really hard on building those collaterol skills - self-management, frustration tolerance, self-direction, "independence." 
 

 

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self-management, frustration tolerance, self-direction, "independence." what a great list, for any kid, but essential for a gifted kid who goes to school! Due to our recent experience, I would add graphomotor practice to the list, if she wants her handwriting to keep up at least partwayst with her brain.

 

See? This is what I need.  To remember I can help prevent the things I am worried about. These, "self-management, frustration tolerance, self-direction, "independence."have been fundamental to my Parenting Manifesto, if you will lol.gif, in all other aspects of her life...but this latest, HUGE, leap of hers has me all discombobulated.  She has kicked it all up 10 notches and I've been struggling to find the right level of involvement with it, ykwim?

 

As for Roar, I have essentially read the archive innocent.gif and yes, she certainly had a way of calling out mothers like me lol.gif (ETA, and I did glean some thoughts that work for us from her posts!)


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#11 of 18 Old 03-16-2013, 04:56 PM
 
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Your days sound like my days with my first.  He had the same constant need for more information, and I enjoyed talking about math and science and I had the time and patience to find worksheets or books for him to learn and practice and find the answers and, yes, keep him entertained. He wanted interaction all the time, and I was able to provide it when it was just him and me, one on one. True, he did not learn to be all that independent in solving his own boredom -- but I'm really not convinced that would have been physically/temperamentally possible for him.  (When my second son came along, with his more independent and quiet style of learning, while being equally intelligent and curious, I could see how ingrained a personality is!).   Anyway, all I'm saying is, YES, to your question. My life was just like that.  When school came along he was ok, happy even.  He's in 2nd now and we need to really be on top of teachers to keep him challenged, haven't quite figured that out yet.  

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#12 of 18 Old 03-17-2013, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 True, he did not learn to be all that independent in solving his own boredom -- but I'm really not convinced that would have been physically/temperamentally possible for him.  (When my second son came along, with his more independent and quiet style of learning, while being equally intelligent and curious, I could see how ingrained a personality is!).   

 

This is why I'm floundering, I think.  She has always been a VERY independent child. Very happy to coexist with me but not needing a huge amount of input from me, ykwim? I'm not one to get involved in their play.  And she would sit with her books for hours and look at them without caring much if I read them to her, happy to figure things out on her own.  

 

But now...she is suddenly all over me all day to read and talk and provide sheets and do math.  If anything, things have been easier in our life recently as her little sister has become a little less of of a tempest so I really don't think that it's a cry for attention.   I think she WOULD independently learn/ponder/figure out right now if she were reading.

 

I found her crying in her room two nights ago because she was looking at a book of Australian animals and couldn't read the captions to the pictures herself and she wanted so terribly to know what they said but couldn't do it herself......(and then she cried again when a picture didn't list every single species of tropical fish in a reef scene, how dare they? she needed to know! sigh)  and I just feel like it must be so frustrating for her that her curiosity and thought has reached this new place and she has no way to satisfy it herself.  I can't imagine not being able to read and scratch that itch, it seems a worse level of frustration to not be able to quietly answer your own questions than many of the other things she will face, ykwim?

 

I feel like she is so close to reading.  Has recognized her letters since she was 18mo ish, knows all her phonic sounds, can read a bunch of words, can tell you how a word is spelled if you sound it out, can sound out alot of words from print, spends all day rhyming to herself, writes quite well......I just hope it all comes together for her soon and it relieves some of her frustration. 

 

I did think of this conversation when she climbed into bed with me at 1am last night and wanted to talk about groundwater and pumps and whether we could use craft supplies to "make googol" today....as much as I wanted to answer her burning questions I reminded myself it wouldn't hurt her to wait until morning, and told her to go to sleep lol.gif 


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#13 of 18 Old 03-17-2013, 11:57 AM
 
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I hear you.  I think because she is usually so independent, I wouldn't worry that you're doing too much with her.  When they start to read independently, it really helps with how independent they can be again.  Maybe a tool like the Leap Pad books would help in this stage, and could be satisfying to her if they are at a good challenging level. (You know, the books that you put on the reader with the stylus for pointing at what you want to hear, play little games on the page, etc.)

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#14 of 18 Old 03-17-2013, 12:10 PM
 
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As a former teacher and reading tutor, I feel like anything you can do at home to reinforce learning is a good thing. 

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#15 of 18 Old 03-28-2013, 03:24 PM
 
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My son started kindergarten at home when he was three, he is now almost 6 and almost done with second grade. He should really be in kindergarten this year. He has always wanted to learn, he taught himself to read at 4. My daughter is three and can spell about 30 words so we are also doing kindergarten. I never pushed either of them and I make school fun and short. I can't imagine putting either of them in school at this point.
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#16 of 18 Old 03-29-2013, 08:41 AM
 
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My son started kindergarten at home when he was three, he is now almost 6 and almost done with second grade. He should really be in kindergarten this year. He has always wanted to learn, he taught himself to read at 4. My daughter is three and can spell about 30 words so we are also doing kindergarten. I never pushed either of them and I make school fun and short. I can't imagine putting either of them in school at this point.

 I have nothing against homeschooling and we did a lot of homeschool-y stuff at 2-5 with my DD. We did a part-time play-based preschool and that worked out very well for 3-5 as well. We were also pretty worksheet free at home and/or child-led exploration with LOTS of independent discovery.

 

Pre-reading they did a lot of books on tape as well...once they could read, we simply selected books on what they were interested in and they could 'learn' themselves independently.

 

BUT that said-- I would check your schools. It is not unfeasible for a K age kiddo to be doing 2nd grade work in most schools. Many can accommodate kiddos that are 1-3 years above grade level.

 

 My DD (7) have so far done 1st & 2nd (in now) in public schooling and they have a small group of peers that are working together on 3rd/4th grade in reading, 4 th grade level spelling, and math enrichment. They are at our local neighborhood school in a general classroom.  Do they have some unique interest, yes they do-- but so do a few other kids so it works out well. We are also a low media house and that has not been an issue (my kids have very little pop culture references).

 

Some areas have GT programs that start in K and/or magnet schools. (our school system has neither but is considered a 'good' district)

 

I am not say any method is 'best' just that if you were worried about accommodations if you needed/wanted (or yourDS wanted) to explore public schools- dont discredit that they *may* be able to adapt to your DC needs.

 

Schools vary so widely by district that is so hard to say what would/would not work best. If we were to move to an area that was not able to accommodate my DC needs, we would not hesitate to homeschool.

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#17 of 18 Old 03-29-2013, 07:17 PM
 
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Definitely considering homeschooling - though if you had asked me that a few months ago my answer would have been "Ahhhh, no!" I'm increasingly convinced that school is best for kids within the intellectual mean. Currently looking at homeschooling, unschooling, montessori method and blended learning.

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#18 of 18 Old 03-31-2013, 09:29 PM
 
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http://youtu.be/tRk_sfkBCJ8

 

Katico, it sounds like you are experiencing the innate curiosity born in all children.  Are you familiar with the concept of unschooling?  It's a philosophy of supporting children's education without assigning them structure or choosing what they will/should learn about.  I have heard that there are something like 20,000 parents unschooling their children in the US, so it isn't a huge number but I believe it is spreading in popularity.  Dayna Martin is an advocate of unschooling with a considerable amount of experience doing it with four children I believe (oldest now in late teens).  She has great videos on youtube.  I posted a video here of an interview of her by Stefan Molyneux of freedomainradio.com.  He also has lots of great stuff on parenting.  Hope this helps and good luck with the brave choice!

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