The early stages of learning at home

Tabitha, being 5 in September, would normally be in kindergarten. Her brother Asher would be in “K-4”, if he were in school (and mind you, these days, there is plenty of pressure to send them off early.) However, Tabitha is reading, doing addition and subtraction, and has known thing like letters, shapes, colors, numbers for ages. She’s also learning about geography and fundamentals of science.

One thing, though, that I have noticed is that she’s a fairly lazy student. I don’t say this in a bad way, because bright kids are often lazy, and one of the reasons that they seem “smart” is that they are always trying to figure out how to make things easy. Tabitha picks up an awful lot, but often when pushed a little, she rebels with the “I don’t want to!” which certainly is always a challenge to parents who are homeschooling.

So how does a somewhat lazy student get to a point where she’d probably be at least a year ahead of her “normal” public school class? We started early.

In saying that we started early, I’m definitely not saying that we started her on the “Baby Mozart” and “Your Baby Can Read” or even “ABC Mouse”. We did none of these things. However, from the time she (and now her brothers) were little, my husband and I talked to them, we read to them, we counted with them, we asked them questions. And once they started comprehending things, we’d change things up a little bit and ask them “silly” stuff, maybe pointing to a dog and asking them “Is that a zebra?” The first few times, it was kind of confusing, but once explained, questions like that usually get them giggling, along with them thinking. (And as they get older, adding in details like “but it has four legs and a tail” and watching them try to explain differences between dogs and zebras is certainly amusing!)

Several years ago, I won a book called Testing for Kindergarten: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Ace the Tests for: Public School Placement, Private School Admissions, Gifted Program Qualification* by Karen Quinn. Now for most of us, the premise sounds somewhat absurd, because most of us don’t think that we ought to prepare kids for testing that young. In her case, she lived in New York City, and early testing like that is pretty routine in order to get kids spots in highly competitive “gifted” programs in the city’s public and private schools. In her case, the impetus was that her son, having had ear infections for much of his early life, tested so low that he probably would have started school in special ed classes. Knowing that there was nothing wrong with his brain, she was determined to work with him strategically to be able, within the course of about a year’s time, get him testing better than that. She was successful – very successful – in this, and this book, besides having a lot of tips specific to testing for schools, has an awful lot of resources and strategies for parents who just want their kids to be learning things early on. After all, their education begins at home! 🙂

*Amazon affiliate link