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Old 02-05-2004, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I know that just about everything a young child does contributes to their education. Here's why I ask:

I am planning on beginning this summer after the new baby is born. Not that I'm going to be sitting with him for hours drilling, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to teach him starting around then. He's already shown a lot of interest in letters and numbers, picking them up and bringing them to me; "B! b, b, b Baby! Book! Boy! Big! b, b, b, letter B!" We give him what he asks for. When he picks up an unfamiliar letter, or he says the wrong name/sound, we tell him the right one.

He counted 8 oranges with me in the grocery store last week with me. I picked up an orange, said "One" and put it in the bag, Eli said "two!" and we went on like that, all the way up to eight. He said "nine?" and I said "No, sweetie, we're only buying eight oranges," and he said "Eight orange!" He also loves to count toys with his cousins. Cereal is great; I put down the cheerios and count "one, two, three" and he looks up and says "four?" :LOL It's super cute.

At any rate, I think he's ready for a slightly more organized approach, but my pregnancy-induced tapioca brain does not make for, imo, a great learning/teaching environment.

It's not that I'm concerned about pushing my son too hard. Pushing is the last thing I want to do (okay, that's not true. Letting him stagnate is the last thing I want to do!) He's obviously ready for this.. I just wonder how people deal with outside comments when they have very young children who are working with letters and numbers. I got a lot of strange looks in the grocery store, for example, when Eli was counting oranges with me. He's young and small for his age to boot, but if I'm getting strange looks now, what are they going to say when he's two and reading the cereal boxes? And how can I respond without being snide or nasty (which is my initial response to criticism irl). "Oh, why are you pushing your child so hard? You should let him be a baby!" "Why do you speak when you're out in public? Don't you know that people can tell you're an idiot?"

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Old 02-05-2004, 09:47 PM
 
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I have never done formal teaching with my kids (we unschool) but I have had the raised eyebrows in the grocery store thing to contend with. My kids are quite petite too, and when my eldest was about 5 1/2 she loved reading during our weekly grocery shopping expedition. She'd be sitting in the grocery cart seat, looking about three years old by size, reading Harry Potter or the Hobbit and we would get the strangest looks. But I don't think this is a big deal... it's clear your child is happy and self-motivated and people are just startled by the precocity combined with small size. Some people probably wondered if I was "working with her" at home and wondered if she was being pushed. I felt like making her a T-shirt that said "I taught myself to read, okay?". But what others think of me is none of my business.

Miranda

(whose current 5yo was reading "Inkheart" while waiting at the optometrist's the other day but at least isn't quite as petite as her elder sister was at 5)

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Old 02-06-2004, 02:15 PM
 
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Try not to worry about what others may or may not be thinking. Not to be sacrastic (well maybe, LOL) but it could be that they aren't really noticing what you two are talking about, his age, or the counting, but more that, "wow, look, a mom paying attention to her child without impatience and screaming!" Sadly, that seems to be a rare thing in grocery stores and everywhere today.

Like you said, don't push, don't stagnate, he'll lead you along at his own pace and have a lot of fun! And if anyone does stare just turn, smile, and say, "aren't children great!"

Have fun!

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Old 02-06-2004, 02:29 PM
 
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I think I do....

My son is 28 mos and he knows star circle octagon square oval triangle............
ect .counts to ten knows 15 anaimal sounds, we use baby einstien flash cards, knows all of them.. he in my mind is bright but bcause i show him shapes and point them out everywhere we go is that formally schooling?
my son is very polite he says thank you your welcome bless you and excuse me all at appropriote times its soooo cute!
so how do u not formally school? im confused?

:LOL
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Old 02-06-2004, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What I mean by formally schooling is making a concerted effort to teach. My son also knows several shapes, letters, numbers, songs, colors, etc, but it's all been incidental learning. I haven't made any organized effort to teach him, say, phonics or one-to-one correspondence or anything like that. I'm planning to start doing that, in an organized fashion, after the baby is born. I'm figuring no more than an hour a day, broken into 5 to 15 minute time periods spaced throughout the day. I'm going to have a plan going into it (probably week by week) and keep records (because I am a geek and I need to do that. :LOL) so that I can track his progress. That's what I mean.

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Old 02-06-2004, 04:04 PM
 
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I'm curious why you feel compelled to start formal schooling with a child of this age. I know you posted asking for support rather than discussion, so feel free to just ignore my question... I'm probably being a little rude in asking. Still, my curiosity is piqued.

Miranda

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Old 02-06-2004, 04:42 PM
 
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i get it.. thanks!

sounds like you have a quick learner on youre hands all the power to ya!
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Old 02-06-2004, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by moominmamma
I'm curious why you feel compelled to start formal schooling with a child of this age. I know you posted asking for support rather than discussion, so feel free to just ignore my question... I'm probably being a little rude in asking. Still, my curiosity is piqued.
I don't think you're being rude. :LOL I like questions and suggestions/ideas are always welcome.

The reason I want to start formal schooling as early as possible (as soon as my children are ready, which for my son is now) has to do much more with my own education than anything else. I never learned how to work hard to learn something that I didn't already know or have a strong background in. I was in 11th grade taking AP Chemistry before I encountered any material in school that I wasn't already intimately familiar with. I had no discipline whatsoever, and was unable to study as a result. I still did very well in the class, because I test well and it wasn't too hard for me, but when I got to college the problem came back to bite me in the tush for Calculus II.

I had to work so hard to learn how to study, how to discipline myself, etc, because I never needed to do homework to pass a class. It was all mindless busywork and I was much more interested in my own independant studies than in doing worthless junk to please my teachers. I intend to avoid these problems with my own children by staying ahead of them and introducing information and ideas which they actually have to *think* about in order to understand. I want them to learn to think for themselves, to learn how to discipline themselves and direct their studies, and how to ask for help when they need it. You never learn to ask for help if you never need help with anything, and that was the problem I had in school. It's why I'm "unsuccessful", why I'm 26 years old and brilliant but I never managed to graduate from college or get a job that pays more than $5.75/hour. I don't want my kids to be bored, and I don't want them to stagnate. I want them to feel confident in themselves and their ability to learn anything, and that starts by showing them that they are capable of doing more challenging work.

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Old 02-06-2004, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by mama_with_faith
Try not to worry about what others may or may not be thinking. Not to be sacrastic (well maybe, LOL) but it could be that they aren't really noticing what you two are talking about, his age, or the counting, but more that, "wow, look, a mom paying attention to her child without impatience and screaming!" Sadly, that seems to be a rare thing in grocery stores and everywhere today.
T You know, that same trip, in a different aisle when we were counting the juice ("I want apple juice! I like apple juice! One two three four! Put it in!") a woman came up to me and said "You're so wonderful with your daughter! It's so sweet to see a parent interacting with her child." It was pretty funny, she was so chagrined when I said he was a boy. : Of course, he was wearing girl clothing (his cousin's; long story!) and he's "pretty", so I understood how the mistake could be made, but she still felt bad. :

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Old 02-06-2004, 06:41 PM
 
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Thanks for your thoughtful and gracious response. You wrote:

Quote:
I had to work so hard to learn how to study, how to discipline myself, etc, because I never needed to do homework to pass a class. It was all mindless busywork ..... <snip> .... I intend to avoid these problems with my own children by staying ahead of them and introducing information and ideas which they actually have to *think* about in order to understand. I want them to learn to think for themselves, to learn how to discipline themselves and direct their studies, and how to ask for help when they need it.
I don't know if you're at all interested in an unschooling approach, but it takes as its starting point these very concerns and yet comes up with a diametrically different process. I had a similar experience to yours in school. But I believe that it was the passivity and lack of autonomy that I internalized from my school experiences that prevented me from challenging myself as thoroughly as I might have. (I did challenge myself a fair bit in music and writing and that served me well when I finally did have to learn how to "apply myself" to academics in medical school.)

As I type this, my newly-10-year-old who has never had any parent-directed academic teaching is heading into her second hour of piano practising. She decided this year that she wants to really excel on the piano, and she's just bitten off her first real Bach Prelude this week and is psyched! She has worked her hands separately, slowed it down, used the metronome, repeated passages scores of times, created ornamentation exercises for herself, used different rhythms to build fluidity, called me in to ask for advice, taken breaks and come back to it afresh, done more hands separately work and just plugged away. No one told her she should do this. The Bach wasn't even assigned by her piano teacher. She's done the same sort of thing, at various stages, with reading fluency, geography facts, handwriting, math facts, long division, basic algebra, and so on. My other kids are younger, but I see the same things happening. My 5-year-old just came out of her bedroom and announced that she read a whole chapter of "Inkheart" to herself. Two weeks ago she managed "Toad on the Road" and she's just worked and worked at it since then.

So I don't need to set bars to challenge my kids. Unschooled kids, because they've never been coaxed into learning stuff that isn't yet meaningful to them, will challenge themselves, often setting their own bars way higher than their parents would imagine possible. And with no risk of pushing or stressing our kids, or creating conflict and resentment around learning.

My eldest was very precocious at an early age and I was tempted to start teaching her in parent-directed ways to keep her challenged. But a friend of mine with older kids kept reminding me to look at the challenge she was creating for herself and ask myself what wasn't working with it. And now I've had 8 or 10 years of experience seeing unschooling act as an amazing self-modulating system for challenging children. Sometimes I'm stymied by it for a while, because inevitably my kids go through phases when they seem aimless and unproductive. But there always turns out to be have been a reason, apparent later, for the surface quiescence: a big conceptual or developmental leap was being quietly organized internally.

Just another perspective on the same issues!

Miranda

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Old 02-07-2004, 04:15 AM
 
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what a cool post moominmamma!!
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Old 02-07-2004, 10:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree, it was a cool post .

That said, I don't think I articulated myself well enough. What I mean is, I was never able to focus on anything I wasn't interested in. I too sat for hours in front of the piano to teach myself new things (in fact, I'm entirely self-taught on all my instruments). I asked my mother to buy me a book to work on, and she brought home the John Thompson Second Grade book. I sat down and finished it in about 2.5 hours, because I was determined to learn to play. I had a great time with things like Chemistry and Physics, mathmatics, music, etc. I did a great deal of history study on my own, because what we learned in school irritated me (inconsistant and not enough depth).

When I got to college, I had to force myself to study things that were not remotely interesting to me like Economics and German (the only foriegn language I can think of which I would not have studied voluntarily). In most respects, I'm very open-minded. Today, I have much broader interests and regularly work to teach myself new things, but I have no patience for things which I find uninteresting. I know in my head that if I just gave it 15 minutes, I'd get it all and I'd never have to look at it again, but I just get so caught up in how much I hate the subject matter that even that 15 minutes is impossible. The thing I want my children to learn is that they can teach themselves/learn things which they don't necessarily enjoy. It's a necessary skill if you're going to college; you usually have to take things you don't particularly care for to graduate. "Gen Ed" and such. Yes, I realize that my children may not want to go to college, but I want the option of going and being successful at it to be there for them.

The other thing about unschooling is that I am probably way to anal for it. : Seriously, I like writing things down and filling out forms. I may not have needed to keep records to report to anyone, but I kept records for myself of things I had learned, where, and how I had learned them, etc. I need to see progress in myself, and in my children as well. That's why Eli's baby book is so meticulously filled out, why I got a set of growth charts (length-for-weight, head circumference, weight-for-age, length-for-age) and have filled them out so religiously. I like keeping track of things. Details make me happy. : I guess I'm just a freak that way. :

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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Old 02-08-2004, 07:07 PM
 
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We are talking about a 15 month old right

I would say it is still to early to start formal accedemic education. Yes, your baby is very smart. My dd is a month younger and still doesn't say more than 2 or 3 words and then rarely uses them. She is still working on getting down fromt he things she gets up on. :LOL Perhaps you should look at some classes/activities that focus on social skills, spiritual awareness and physical activities while still nurturing your childs intellect. There is a whole wide world out there and it has been my experiance that when a child excells in any one of these areas (specifically early acceemic learning) that the other areas are somewhat neglected if not a complete dissaster. My friends kids were a lot like your son at his age, very good with language and even math and pre reading but were completely clueless socially. As in people cringed when they walked in the room. I am not saying your child will turn out like that by any means. I am just saying be sure not to over look other areas. They are just as important (if not more so) than accedemics.

Also I would hesitate to put to much emphasis on accedimics right now because, well, for example. the kids I mentioned a second ago. they had a huge advantage accedemically because they were verbal at such an early age. they could say thier entire alphabet by 14 months and recoganize all the letters and thier counds by the time they we 18 months but still didn't read until they were 7 and 8 . If you put too much emphasis on that sort of thing now if your child suddenly ends up behind the curve it would natrually be frustraring and your child may feel like he is not living up to you expectations even thoug it is perfectly natrual for them to take a break from accedemics to persue growth socially, physically, and spiritually. Agaon not saying you specifically would do something like this but just something to be on gaurd against.

When people look at you funny they are probably just amazed. It is not average for a 15 month old to be able to say more than a few words and certainly not average for them to be counting and chatting, and saying the alphabet. enjoy it! if they say something assure them that he is just a sharp little fellow and that he just picks it up himself. That you hardly have to do anything at all. Then let them be amazed.

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Old 02-08-2004, 07:35 PM
 
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I agree with much of what lilyka wrote. I addressed mostly the "structure" aspect before and she's addressed mostly the "balance" aspect, something I forgot to mention. I have precocious, naturally academic kids. When they were young I threw almost all my support behind non-academic things, and while I still think they're too academically focused, I'm convinced they're way better balanced than they would have been without my preferential encouragement in other areas.

Focused parental involvement and approval send such powerful messages to our young kids. I think it's a shame if they're applied to academics more than other areas. I've always strived to devote at least as much energy, time, money and enthusiasm to my kids' music improvisation, gymnastics, sculpture and painting and so on as I do to their academics. Even with a lot of concerted effort I find I tend to over-emphasize academics. Am I more likely to comment to dh at the family dinner hour that the 5yo managed three chinups on the bar or that she read a complete chapter of Winnie the Pooh all by herself? You can imagine which update leaps more readily to my mind.

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Old 02-08-2004, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by eilonwy
The thing I want my children to learn is that they can teach themselves/learn things which they don't necessarily enjoy. It's a necessary skill if you're going to college; you usually have to take things you don't particularly care for to graduate. "Gen Ed" and such.
I found a lot of my college classes to be totally uninteresting... but they were also generally easy for me, so I could read a book or do a crossword puzzle throughout the class, write papers the evenings before they were due, and still get an A. It was a boring evening of sloggy work, but I could do it. I do think Rain shares that natural knack for catching on quickly when she decides to learn something, so I don't worry about it.

Still, I think the idea that sometimes you have to learn things you don't really care to learn in order to reach a larger goal comes up over and over in real life... Rain has learned songs she doesn't want to learn because her voice teacher at the time advised it, and she saw the large goal of developing a better voice. I kow lots of unschooled teens who decide to sit down and learn a bunch of math before taking the SAT or enrolling at the community college The idea that you do what you need to do to accomplish your own goals has always been a big part of their lives...

I've never differentiated between academic and non-academic things, really. At least, I've tried not to, and by the time Rain was 6 or 7 it was second nature. She tends to focus on it only when another (schooled) child brings it up...but I don't think she really realizes what is considered "academic" learning and what isn't. She knew all about binary numbers at 6 or 7, but it was playing... we used to got to Lawrence Hall of Science and play with all sorts of "math games", and figure out how one could always win. She runs spellcheck whenever she emails people and her spelling is now pretty good, but we didn't think of it as "doing spelling" - she was emailing friends and family and wanted to make sure her emails were readable. She impressed a cast full of adults in one show because she was explaining something about ancient Egypt that I didn't know, and I had no idea she knew. She knows an awful lot of Latin and Greek for someone who's never formally studied it, and she occasionally comes and asks me something like, "So, is matricide killing your mother?" because she read the word and applied her knowledge of the roots. And reading is something I rarely think of at all, although she does it...

Dar

 
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Old 02-09-2004, 06:03 PM
 
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It seems that you are dealing with three separate issues: your son's precocity, your feelings about how others react to your son's precocity and your regrets about your own educational experience and lack of "success." Two of these are your issues alone. If you haven't already, I'd strongly urge you to come to terms with your own disappointments and regrets before planning a course of action to avoid those same mistakes with your son.

I've been on a similar journey much of this past year. While nowhere near as gifted as you (IIRC from other posts), I have similar misgivings about my education and disappointment with my lack of achievement. I also have a terrifically bright 26 mo daughter who has crushed my dreams of a homey Waldorf style preschool at home experience by demanding letter and number "drills" (very informal) at 15 months and now dictates words to me and insists I write them down. Sometimes I feel like she thinks I'm in need of remedial education. However, I strongly believe that at least until 5 or 6, a child led approach is the only one appropriate. Even very bright children (and adults) need downtime to process and integrate ideas. These are critical years. How could I possible best know when she needs pushing, or bar raising or when she needs downtime?

As for others' reactions. You're going to have to learn to deal with it. It sounds like you're doing a great job with your son and his precocity is nothing to be ashamed of... neither is yours. I've learned to smile sweetly and say, "She's so busy pulling, I can't find the time to push." Sometimes it's hard though.

Here are a couple books I've found to be very helpful. I'd recommend the first book in particular; it discusses adult gifted women. There are plenty of other great books lists at Hoagies.

Smart Girls by Barbar Kerr

Bringing Out the Best : A Resource Guide for Parents of Young Gifted Children by Jacquelyn Saunders
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