Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Hebrew Model of Education

One quick question....actual think about it before you answer.

Who says a child has to read by age 6 or 7?

I mean, seriously, does life end in misery from that point forward if a child isn't reading?  What exactly is "on grade level" anyway?  Who determines what that is?  Oh sure, in public or state run school, they have to set some sort of target, I understand that.  But I'm not in the public or state run school arena.  I don't plan to be.  And honestly, if they were doing that great a job we wouldn't rate so low among every other country of industry.  Ok, so we aren't low low...but really, hanging out in the middle with just as many below us as above us, is hardly worth tooting a horn of pride over.  Not for all the big talk this country puts out about no child left behind and all.

So, back to the question....what do you think?

Obviously I'm not saying leave a child to his own devices and let him learn what may, in his own time frame.  I never could wrap my mind around the whole idea of 'unschooling' and such.  I like natural learning and all, but I've seen too many parents take it to the far side and simply allow free ranging well beyond anything proper for a child to really be learning. I've seen it work, too, but it's just not something I can put my entire mom-as-teacher cap behind. Kudos if you've got unschooling working for your children!

My children, my older children, learned to read in Kindergarten in public school, so I'm hardly saying it can't be done.  They were in the public arena, were blessed enough to have small classes for their fledgling year.  My 3rd child, started school at our small church, and blew thru Kindergarten before their Christmas break, and 1st grade before the year ended that May.  She breezed thru learning to read at age 6.  My other children didn't read so quickly, or thoroughly.  And of course, I worried it was due more to my homeschooling from there on out than anything else.  The idea of 'nature' simply kicking in and the heart for reading not coming to all of them in the exact same time frame never crossed my mind.

And I stressed terribly over that.

A couple years ago I finally settled down more.  Sure, I still have worries about keeping up with those Joneses there in the public school arena, especially when no one in my area that I socialize with homeschools. Those that do are more of the satellite school bend, and big Bob Jones folks.  I like Bob Jones.  It's not in my future, but I have no serious complaints about it.  We use mainly Rod & Staff for math and English, and their Bible series for reading.  We love The Handbook of Nature Study as our main course for nature/science studies.  We are following our Paths of Learning curriculum for everything else, with tons of added reading and bunny trails along the topic flow.

And now, I'm adding in Sonlight Education. No, not the Sonlight, with cores and IEPs and all.  This Sonlight Education is more of an old fashioned, Hebrew model of education. It revolves around The Bible, building ones character and sense of morals, the study of nature around us, and grows upon the everyday life experiences that help to develop the deeper understanding of the other areas.  All four work together to grow Godly children into God-driven adults.  From there the cycle can't help but continue along.

“In an age like ours, in which iniquity abounds, and God’s character and His law are alike regarded with contempt, special care must be taken to teach the youth to study, to reverence and obey the divine will as revealed to man. The fear of the Lord is fading from the minds of our youth, because of their neglect of Bible study."
Don't you agree with that statement?  There is very little fear of The Lord in the youth today.  I'd go as far to say even in the adults.  There are a few here and there, but by and large, it's been put away with grandmother's china and crocheted doilies.  What has replaced it is plastic disposable junk.

The work of the parents in the homeschool begins at birth. Long before formal schooling is started, you are already educating your child. 
 “It is in the home that the education of the child is to begin. Here is his first school. Here, with his parents as instructors, he is to learn the lessons that are to guide him throughout life—lessons of respect, obedience, reverence, self-control. The educational influences of the home are a decided power for good or for evil. They are in many respects silent and gradual, but if exerted on the right side, they become a far-reaching power for truth and righteousness. If the child is not instructed aright here, Satan will educate him through agencies of his choosing. How important, then, is the school in the home!
 “Upon all parents there rests the obligation of giving physical, mental, and spiritual instruction. It should be the object of every parent to secure to his child a well-balanced, symmetrical character. This is a work of no small magnitude and importance—a work requiring earnest thought and prayer no less than patient, persevering effort. A right foundation must be laid, a framework, strong and firm, erected; and then day by day the work of building, polishing, perfecting, must go forward.”
 The most important subjects taught in these first years are Bible, Character, Nature, and Practical Work. It is best to leave the Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic for a later time when the child has developed more mentally, physically, and spiritually. When the child is more mature, he will learn more quickly and easily what would have been difficult and frustrating at a younger age. This method helps to encourage a love of learning and the child will catch up with or excel beyond his or her peers.

Their  idea of 'grade level' placing truly mimics what we long ago determined suited our needs better than the cookie cutter levels offered up by a failing American educational system:
Kindergarten/Pre-school – 0-7 years 
First Grade – 8 years
Grades 2-8 – 9-14 or 
15 years
Grades 9-12 – 15 or 16-19 years
Apprenticeship Under Parent or 
Godly Adults – 20-25 years 

We don't necessarily learn to read before that first grade 'age' there.  And during that time we aren't simply playing games and running around, we are schooling with lots of read-alouds, plenty of good stories and experiences.  We do connect the stories together and have been working on lapbook type projects and narrations to practice writing and such. But even with a few short lessons here and there with learning to read (we have Learning to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, as well as our McGuffeys, and our Pathway Readers), my children have fallen into a routine of reading and really grasping it around age 8 or 9.

I know. Gasps and hushed murmurings usually follow that.  So, by that standard, am I saying my children are barely 3rd grade at age 12? No, not at all.  So far, they've seemed to grasp the whole understanding of other subjects ahead of those reading and true comprehension skills.  It just seems to be natural for them.  I can't believe it's just me.  I mean, sure, I suppose we are lazy in schooling, moreso than some, much less than others, but we get our needs done and my children will not graduate as half-read fools to join the ranks of the far-too-many already existing out there.

What I'm lacking is the apprenticeship end of education.  We keep looking, hoping to find resources for that.

So, how does your homeschool play out? Are you struggling to keep up appearances with the Joneses of the state run arena because that is what "school" seems to dictate to you? Or are you forging ahead and making your own pathways that your children can follow with their own children's education in the years to come?

1 comment:

Laura said...

We have come to about the same conclusions as you about learning and ages. It used to be stressful for me sometimes also, because other people assume that you are not teaching your children ANYTHING if they aren't reading yet. :-P
The beginner reading age among our children has been anywhere from 6-9 years old. As you have noticed, once he or she is ready, learning to read and progressing to harder levels goes very quickly. :)
I just found your blogs yesterday and am enjoying them!