Parenting 101

It’s official, we are homeschooling for kindergarten!

kindergarten-homeschool

It’s official. We are homeschooling for kindergarten and possibly beyond (depending on how year one goes). Why? Well, I don’t have any particular bone to pick with formal schools, but I do believe formal education leaves very little scope for customized learning, especially during early years when a child is just getting to know the rules and discovering his interests. With 20-25 students per class, I cannot possibly blame the teachers for not doing enough (I know they have their hands full and spilling over), but I have this gut-feeling (call it mom-instinct, if you may) that learning can be much more fun, pressure free and part of everyday play, rather than something forced.

Having said that, I have the utmost respect for the teaching profession. Both my parents were teachers for more than three decades each (My mother still is) and I believe it is one of the toughest professions that there is. I have seen them spend hours toiling and planning for class activities, agonizing over individual students’ performances and correcting bundles and bundles of classwork and homework during their so-called personal time. And I know this profession needs tons and tons of patience, planning, and intuition, which I believe I don’t possess to the desired level.

Yet, ever since our son started Nursery/Preschool and school became more of a “chore” rather than something he looked forward to, I have been debating in my head whether it was time for us to pull the plug. But he adored his teacher, made a couple of best friends and things were somewhat moving along okay, so I just let it be. Plus, who was I kidding? I absolutely loved the 3-4 child-free hours I got every morning, thanks to school!

But over the course of two years, as I have seen the learning spark in my son go down a notch due to all the pressure I was putting on him to read and write better to match the school’s expectations, I came to the conclusion that it was just not worth it. Here was a child who was a voracious learner, self-teaching himself the alphabets/numbers (with very little help from me much before his second birthday) and who could talk non-stop about all things astronomy (tiring me out with his constant demands for reading “just one more book about space”) now not able to settle in a classroom. Now all he was feeling was exhaustion and boredom, frustration and anger instead of excitement and fun, which is how learning should be in the beginning years (at least).

Of course, there were events and activities which he enjoyed at school, especially sports events, outings, and crafts etc. and on such occasions, he could not wait to get to school. But on regular days filled with academics, given a choice between home and school, he preferred home a ninety-nine percent of the times: “I like to stay home, I don’t like to go to school.” was his default state.

In retrospect, it should not have been such a hard decision considering I and hubby both never went to playschool or kindergarten. We went straight to grade I and don’t think we missed out anything special. In fact, we gained a lot more in terms of memories through extra imaginative playtime and extra travel time (without the need to match school vacations) to name a couple.

Moreover, sonny being barely 4.5-year-old now, what is the worst thing that could happen? The worst case scenario would possibly be that homeschooling would fail and we’d have to swallow our pride and enroll him in kindergarten in April 2017 unintentionally redshirting him for a year, right? Will it be so bad to lose a year of academic learning to play? I don’t think it’s such a terrible idea! Don’t believe me? Check out the expert opinion on this below:

Anyway, the decision is done. And right now, we as a family are thrilled and loving the change! But yes, I do wish to take my role as sonny’s teacher seriously. I have been trying to figure out a curriculum that covers the syllabus for kindergarten across schools in India. I want him to learn, making sure his interests and inclinations are never out of focus but at the same time not forgetting that there is an inherent hard work involved in learning which he must put in from his side for this whole process to succeed.

I would love to hear opinions, views, and advice from fellow parents who have traversed the homeschooling path before us. What do you guys think? How do I begin?

Before I end this post, please check out two of my favorite stories about teaching and learning from “Chicken Soup For The Soul” Series (which kind of explores part of our thought process leading to the choice of homeschooling for sonny).

The Animal School – George H. Reavis

Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of “a new world.” So they organized a school. They adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects. The duck was excellent in swimming, in fact, better than his instructor, but he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school, so nobody worried about that except the duck. The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much make-up work in swimming. The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He also developed a “charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and a D in running. The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there. At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well, and also run, climb and fly a little, had the highest average and was valedictorian. The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to a badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school. Does this fable have a moral?

 

The Little Boy – Helen E. Buckley

Once a little boy went to school.
He was quite a little boy.
And it was quite a big school.
But when the little boy
Found that he could go to his room
By walking right in from the door outside,
He was happy.
And the school did not seem
Quite so big anymore.
One morning,
When the little boy had been in school a while,
The teacher said:
“Today we are going to make a picture.”
“Good!” thought the little boy.
He liked to make pictures.
He could make all kinds:
Lions and tigers,
Chickens and cows,
Trains and boats—
And he took out his box of crayons
And began to draw.
But the teacher said:
“Wait! It is not time to begin!”
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
“Now,” said the teacher,
“We are going to make flowers.”
“Good!” thought the little boy,
He liked to make flowers,
And he began to make beautiful ones
With his pink and orange and blue crayons.
But the teacher said,
“Wait! And I will show you how.”
And she drew a flower on the blackboard.
It was red, with a green stem.
“There,” said the teacher.
“Now you may begin.”
The little boy looked at the teacher’s flower.
Then he looked at his own flower,
He liked his flower better than the teacher’s.
But he did not say this,
He just turned his paper over
And made a flower like the teacher’s.
It was red, with a green stem.
On another day,
When the little boy had opened
The door from the outside all by himself,
The teacher said,
“Today we are going to make something with clay.’
“Good!” thought the little boy.
He liked clay.
He could make all kinds of things with clay:
Snakes and snowmen,
Elephants and mice,
Cars and trucks—
And he began to pull and pinch His ball of clay.
But the teacher said,
“Wait! It is not time to begin!”
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
“Now,” said the teacher,
“We are going to make a dish.”
“Good!” thought the little boy,
He liked to make dishes,
And he began to make some
That were all shapes and sizes.
But the teacher said,
“Wait! And I will show you how.”
And she showed everyone how to make
One deep dish.
“There,” said the teacher,
“Now you may begin.”
The little boy looked at the teacher’s dish
Then he looked at his own.
He liked his dishes better than the teacher’s
But he did not say this,
He just rolled his clay into a big ball again,
And made a dish like the teacher’s.
It was a deep dish.
And pretty soon
The little boy learned to wait
And to watch,
And to make things just like the teacher.
And pretty soon
He didn’t make things of his own anymore.
Then it happened
That the little boy and his family
Moved to another house,
In another city,
And the little boy
Had to go to another school.
This school was even Bigger
Than the other one,
And there was no door from the outside
Into his room.
He had to go up some big steps,
And walk down a long hall
To get to his room.
And the very first day
He was there, the teacher said,
“Today we are going to make a picture.”
“Good!” thought the little boy,
And he waited for the teacher
To tell him what to do
But the teacher didn’t say anything.
She just walked around the room.
When she came to the little boy,
She said, “Don’t you want to make a picture?”
“Yes,” said the little boy.
“What are we going to make?”
“I don’t know until you make it,” said the teacher.
“How shall I make it?” asked the little boy.
“Why, any way you like,” said the teacher.
“And any color?” asked the little boy.
“Any color,” said the teacher,
“If everyone made the same picture,
And used the same colors,
How would I know who made what,
And which was which?”
“I don’t know,” said the little boy.
And he began to make pink and orange and blue flowers.
He liked his new school,
Even if it didn’t have a door
Right in from the outside!

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