Friday, October 24, 2008

An "out-in-the-world mom"

One of my son's favourite stories these days is Goldilocks and The Three Bears, preferably the book on tape as we flip the pages of the book together. Just the other day, while I was cooking dinner, he decides to open another unkempt cupboard in the kitchen (now designated as his) to show me Papa Bear's bowl (he says in a big voice), Mama Bear's bowl (he say's with a normal voice) and Baby Bear's bowl (he says in an itsy bitsy voice). WOW! He's figured out volume all by himself. My husband and I smile at each other, delighted that he has shared his discovery with us and pleased that he is free to discover on his own.

That said, I admit to recently having 'stressed our son out' with all his playdates, fieldtrips, gym, swimming, storytime, art and music classes - not to mention I was stressed out too with all the organising and driving about. It is so easy sometimes to delegate the thinking to someone else, so I have less work to do and yet still be with him. I also can fall so easily into that rut of wanting him to do so much, wanting to expose him to so much - but I realise now that it was just too much and he's not even 2! I have to slow way down. On a positive note, it is nice to be able to pick and choose what to do... and there is so much to do here!

I met a woman today who works with gifted children in the public school system. When she found out we plan to homeschool, she smiled and began to praise the home schooled children that she has come to know through her work and personal life. She had only good things to say about home schooled children - intellectually, emotionally and socially. She also praised unschooling in the sense that she believes that curricula must follow a child's passion, for this is the best way he or she learns. Although I have 3 years to even think about kindergarten, our conversation enlightened me and strengthened my yearning to unschool my son. Our conversation today also comes at a time when homeschooling is suddenly in mainstream publications. I can see how I am already an "out-in-the-world mom" and I cannot say enough how much I love my job!

FYI:

Homeschool Diaries in Parents Magazine - 3 different families give different reasons for homeschooling

The Anti-Schoolers from NY TIMES: "What’s radical is the choice to opt out of the educational rat race that is so intense in Manhattan... Mitchell L. Stevens, a sociologist at N.Y.U. and the author of “Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement” (Princeton, 2001), said it is not surprising that home-schooling is becoming more popular in New York City, with more than 2,600 students registered this year, up from nearly 1,600 in 2001, according to the New York City Department of Education.“In one sense it is hyperparenting, an extreme version of bourgeois parenting,” he said. Parents, he said, are anticipating a world in which children will have to be ever more flexible and creative, and some home-schooling parents believe their approach will provide that edge."

Joanne Rendell's article on Unschooling on Babble.com: "I realize that Benny is not at "real" kindergarten today, because it is what suits my family at this moment. I'm not against school. Not by any means. After all, Brad and I fared pretty nicely after a regular school education. With two PhDs between us and a couple of published books, our desire to learn clearly wasn't quashed. But un-kindergarten for us means Benny can sleep late so I can write. It means we don't have to worry about bedtimes and can go out on the town with friends any night of the week. We can go to Europe and visit my family when the flights are cheap. Un-kindergarten also means we can pick and choose how we spend our days and who we spend them with. Benny can go to free classes at the Metropolitan Museum in the week when it's less crowded. He can read a book on sharks when he feels like it. He can experiment with bungee cords while eating his breakfast at noon."

Universal Preschool Hasn't Delivered Results from the SF Chronicle: "The latest bit of bad news for universal preschool comes from Tennessee, which poured $250 million into expanding a state preschool program three years ago. A comprehensive study last month - commissioned by the government itself - concluded that, barring at-risk kids, there was "no statistically significant difference" between the educational performance of second-graders who attended preschool and those who did not. Activists cannot blame this on 'poor quality' preschool, given that the Tennessee program is regarded as the gold standard of preschool - meeting 9 of the 10 criteria for a high-quality program set by the National Institute for Early Education Research."

Lessons from Finland: The Way To Education Excellence from The Providence Journal: "When Finland's 15-year-olds recently placed No.1 in math and science on the recent Program for International Student Assessment, the news of the coup was received in Helsinki with characteristic reserve. For the Finns, whose schools are considered the best in the world, the scores stood as a redundant confirmation of the success of their policies... The Finns spend a meager (compared to the U.S.) $5,000 a year per student, operate no gifted programs, have average class sizes close to 30, and don't begin schooling children until they are 7."

Universal Preschool - a website devoted to empowering parents of preschoolers around the world with the tools to help their children get a high-quality, developmentally appropriate, play-based early education at home, includes research resources

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