How Young is Too Young to Start School?


Since Withteeth and I are interested in Homeschooling, on thing we have to think about is when to start what. Generally, school starts between age 4 and 6, and there are a number of different theories about when kids are ready to learn certain tasks. For example, kids in Canada and the US tend to learn to read before anything else, and most kids start to grasp reading around age 6. However, many kids are ready to learn math before they are ready to learn to read. So why teach reading first?

Personally, I’m not sure I actually want our kids to start school. I want them to learn, but I don’t want them to associate learning with school. I want them to think of learning as a lifelong endeavour. You see, in my family it is commonly believed that the biggest issue with the world is that people overthink. Many of my family members are more proud of their ignorance than they are of their intelligence. I think part of this is due to the fact that they associate thinking and learning with school, and not with progress. But I want our children to think of learning in association with progress rather than school. So I don’t know if we’ll actually use the word “school” in association with our Homeschooling.

It’s guaranteed that we will Homeschool at least for a time. I’m not sure when we’ll stop Homeschooling, be it for Kindergarten, Grade 9, when they start University, or sometime in between, but we’ll likely start as soon as baby is born. We won’t be pushing the child to learn anything they aren’t ready for, but babies learn so much so fast that it doesn’t make sense not to consider the first few years as part of their education. I expect the first year will consist of us reading to baby, talking to baby, playing with baby, and playing music for baby. So nothing we wouldn’t do anyway. As baby gets older, colouring will become part of the curriculum. Hand-eye coordination is necessary for later writing skills, so it makes sense to get them colouring as soon as they can hold a marker. Plus, who doesn’t love colouring? We have decided on a no TV policy until our child is 2 and no video games until they are 6. This is simply because we feel such things are unnecessary, and enforcing such rules will get Withteeth and I away from our computers. As such, any early curriculum we do will be based around books, workbooks, games, what’s available in the community, and videos once they are 2 and older.

Me being who I am, I have looked quite a bit into various types of Homeschooling. We like the idea of playing lots of games and doing lots of hands-on activities for learning. We also like the idea of reading and listening to books. Since I have ADHD and tend to fail miserably at sitting still (seriously, I’ve gotten up like 6 times since I started writing this just to move around), I know that action based learning was best for me. But we don’t want to use just one style. Not only will our children learn differently from on another, but they will learn different topics differently. As such, we also want to use workbooks and documentaries/films as well. This means that we will be doing an eclectic style of homeschooling. My preferred styles are Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Thomas Jefferson (or Leadership), Classical, and Unschooling. I’m not quite sure how I’ll work all that together, but I have plenty of time for trial and error.

We also like the idea of Homeschooling all year round, and we like the idea of taking few breaks. Rather than doing four hours of Homeschooling a day four days of the week, we’d rather do little bits of school at a time. This may change as the children grow, but at least at first I think doing an hour of school work a day is best. After all, small children aren’t really that great at sitting still for long. And I still struggle to sit through hour long classes.  Withteeth also feels we should focus on on subject at a time. I’m not sure what my opinion is in that regard, but it can’t hurt to try. He also wants to focus on math first, which I agree with. We’ll figure out whether or not we’ll put the kids in public school as they approach school age. If they are ahead of their peers by then, I doubt we’ll bother. If they are behind or where their peers are, we’ll probably try public school and see how that goes. But, again, it depends on the child.

Now I just have to figure out how to make Homeschooling work while I teach. I should have my teaching certificate by the time baby is a year and a half. That should be a fun experiment.

For those of you with experience Homeschooling, what styles of learning do you prefer? When did you start Homeschooling and how often do you Homeschool? In general, what has worked for you?

Everybody else, thoughts? Opinions?

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18 responses to “How Young is Too Young to Start School?

  • Brian Pansky

    Here’s a video on improved education you might like! It can at least give ideas, even if you do things differently. Oh and when the kid is older, computer programming might be a good skill, it trains people to think logically and such, plus it might be useful and practical in the future.

    Like

  • paidiske

    I’d just say, don’t get too hung up on working it all out ahead of time. Your own child’s development will end up being the key factor.

    My daughter has autism; something I couldn’t have foreseen until it became clear that her language development was not typical. She’s also very very bright. Working out how to meet her needs is something that means I need to be flexible and open to trying different things, even those I wouldn’t have expected, and any ideas I had about what my child would learn, or how she would learn, have had to be set aside.

    (For example, I’d have quite liked to home school, but because she struggles socially, being in a classroom environment with other children has been incredibly beneficial for her in a way a neurotypical child might not have needed).

    Like

  • DataHeart

    Home schooling is a good choice for many children whose parents are properly educated themselves, committed to the tasks required and consistently available to do the job. When done properly home schooling is effective and good for the overall well being of a child. Children who have been properly home schooled are often successful in life. Done correctly, home schooling can also instill in children a lifelong love for learning.

    That said, a parent does not have, nor should have, an absolute right to home school their child. The overarching human right involved here is, and ought to be, the right of every child to an adequate education. If a parent can provide that, great. If a public or private school can provide that, that’s great also, as long as the child’s right to an education is upheld.

    As a former child welfare worker in my state, I once knew an adolescent girl who begged me to help her stay in school. Her mother was taking her out in a spiteful dispute with school administrators. The girl just wanted to be with her friends and graduate high school. She wanted to go on to college. She knew her mother wasn’t going to home school her or prepare her for college, but there was nothing I could do. In this state a parent can take their child out of school when they turn 16 years old. The agency interpretation of our educational neglect laws forbid me from advocating on her behalf. The schools correct interpretation of the state’s educational law forbid them from asking questions. There is no oversight of students being home schooled in my state. I am still haunted by her cries for help.

    I have seen the darker side of home schooling that no one talks about. Just as public schools and private schools sometimes fail a child, so too do some home schooling parents. Not every parent has the basic education, teaching skills, patients or consistency to be a home schooling parent. Not every parent has their child’s best interests at heart. There are parents in who exploit their own child’s labor to work in a home business. There are parents who are more concerned with indoctrinating their children’s religious beliefs than in preparing them for living in the real world. There are parents who are paranoid and mentally ill, or have extreme personality disorders and pull their children from school for irrational reasons. There are parents who are physically or sexually abusive and don’t want school authorities prying in their family affairs. There are drug addicts, drug dealers and fugitives from the law who don’t want any contact with authorities. In my state, if a parent simply doesn’t want to be bothered enrolling their child in school they need only say” “I’m home schooling him” and they are immune from our truancy laws. Parents in all of these situations might say they are home schooling their child, but actual education activity may not be happening. The fact is, there are children being home schooled in this state whose right to an education is being denied.

    I don’t mean to cast a shadow over you beautiful post and high aspirations. I just know that you will be a model parent and a blessing to your child. But every time I read anything about home schooling I feel this need to write about my own experiences and the limitations of this and every good thing under the sun. Thank you for your indulgence, and best wishes.

    On Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 8:31 PM, hessianwithteeth wrote:

    > hessianwithteeth posted: “Since Withteeth and I are interested in > Homeschooling, on thing we have to think about is when to start what. > Generally, school starts between age 4 and 6, and there are a number of > different theories about when kids are ready to learn certain tasks. For ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  • Ubi Dubium

    I started in Montessori myself, and I highly recommend it. I remember getting out activities that interested me, working with them for as long as I felt like, then putting them away and getting out something else. Very free-form, and I learned a ton. I was reading my the time I was four. If you can swing it, I recommend trying to have your child in a classroom setting at least for awhile, because learning to get along with other people is just as important as reading and math.

    My kids loved the educational video games, especially the puzzle games like Pajama Sam and Freddie Fish. They are good for developing logical thinking skills, plus the hand coordination you need for using a mouse. I think those are OK for small kids.

    A good story – when my youngest was three, she spent a lot of time watching her older sister play Freddie Fish, which has a series of puzzles that must be solved in sequence. One day she finally sat down at the computer, and after messing with the mouse for awhile, figured out how to get it to point and click on the screen. She immediately brought up the game, and did a perfect play-through of it, first time.

    Little kids are sponges, and we just need to expose them to lots of good stuff and let them soak it in.

    Liked by 1 person

  • paladinbox

    The great thing about homeschooling is that it can be a natural progression especially during the early years. You teach numbers, letters, colors, as your child explores the world. By spending time with them, and being willing to help them explore their interests you. A lot of what you do when will depend on your child, and what they need.

    You may like the book Slow and Steady Get Me Ready it has weekly activities to help with development from birth to age 5.

    Liked by 1 person

  • DataHeart

    To Hessianwithteeth:

    Home schooling is a good choice for many children whose parents are properly educated themselves, committed to the tasks required and consistently available to do the job. When done well home schooling is effective and good for the overall well being of a child. Children who have been properly home schooled are often very successful in life. Done correctly, home schooling can also instill in children a lifelong love for learning. I believe home schooling might be a good choice for you and the child you are bringing into our world. (Congratulations!)

    That said, I need to offer a different perspective not usually associated with the topic of home schooling. This is no reflection on you or your post.

    I don’t believe parents have, nor should have, an absolute right to home school their child. The overarching human right involved here is, and ought to be, the right of every child to an adequate education. If a parent can provide that, great. If a public or private school can provide that, that’s great also, as long as the child’s right to an education is upheld.

    As a former child welfare worker in my state, I once knew an adolescent girl who begged me to help her stay in school. Her mother was taking her out in a spiteful dispute with school administrators. The girl just wanted to be with her friends and graduate high school. She wanted to go on to college. She knew her mother wasn’t going to home school her or prepare her for college, but there was nothing I could do. In this state a parent can take their child out of school when they turn 16 years old. The agency interpretation of our educational neglect laws forbid me from advocating on her behalf. The schools correct interpretation of the state’s educational law forbid them from asking questions. There is no oversight of students being home schooled in my state. I am still haunted by her begging me to help.

    I have seen the darker side of home schooling that no one talks about. Just as public schools and private schools sometimes fail a child’s educational needs, so too do some home schooling parents. Not every parent has the basic education, teaching skills, patients or consistency to be a home schooling parent. Not every parent has their child’s best interests at heart. There are parents who exploit their own child’s labor to work in a home business. There are parents who are more concerned with indoctrinating their children’s religious beliefs than in actually preparing them for life in this world. There are parents who are paranoid and mentally ill, or have extreme personality disorders and pull their children from school for irrational reasons. There are parents who are physically or sexually abusive and don’t want school authorities prying in their family affairs. There are drug addicts, drug dealers and fugitives from the law who don’t want any contact with authorities. In my state, if a parent simply doesn’t want to be bothered enrolling their child in school they need only say, “I am home schooling him,” and they are immune from truancy laws. Parents in all of these situations might say they are home schooling their child, but actual education activity may not be happening. There are no public academic testing requirements for children who are home schooled here. The fact is, there are children being home schooled whose right to an education is being denied.

    I don’t mean to cast a shadow over you beautiful post and high aspirations. I just know that you will be a model parent and a blessing to your child. But every time I read anything about home schooling I feel this need to write about my own experiences and the limitations of this and every other good thing under the sun. Thank you for your indulgence, and best wishes.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      I have heard a number of horror stories myself. There is a site called homeschoolers anonymous where ex-homeschoolers regale their personal experiences. Personally I think the child’s well-being needs to come first. For that reason, I’m glad my province requires progress reports to ensure the child is actually learning. I really don’t understand why so many parents take such things as a personal affront.

      Like

  • amcgarry11

    I’ve been homeschooling my kids for three years and it’s fantastic! I’m very eclectic in my method. We’re traditional in the sense that we use textbooks and workbooks, but because we live on a homestead we also naturally use some Charlotte Mason methods by learning from nature.
    I think once you start homeschooling you’ll find yours and your childs preferred method 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  • Ros

    You are absolutely right that learning starts from the moment a child is born. In that sense, focusing on one subject at a time during the early years simply isn’t possible. If a child can see and hear, they will be learning shape recognition and sound recognition right from the start. Later, they will learn to associate certain shapes with certain sounds and you have the beginnings of language. If they learn to recognise written numbers, they are already learning to read. Meanwhile, they will be learning to move their arms, legs, feet and hands and to coordinate that movement. Counting, getting dressed and daily routines all involve sequencing. Sharing things out is about maths, but it’s also about social awareness. Painting and colouring are about art as well as hand-eye coordination, which is also developed through the use of building bricks, play dough, beads, construction toys, eating utensils, cooking utensils, gardening utensils, toothbrushes…

    Probably, the most useful thing I learnt from Montessori was to create a living envronment that is safe for small children. If you have things you don’t want them to touch, put them away where they can neither see nor reach them. It saves both parent and child much heartache! Similarly, I put a gate between living room and kitchen, so that I didn’t have a toddler trying to swing on my leg when I was messing with hot pans.

    At the same time, where possible, try to avoid the use of ‘pretend’ utensils. If they are helping to chop vegetables, for example, give them a knife that will cut cleanly and easily and teach them to use it safely. Obviously, you don’t do that with a 2-year-old, but it’s surprising how young children can learn to use such things safely, given the proper supervision. Until then, get them involved by giving them things they can do safely – making sandwiches or cutting out pastry or cookies, for example. If they can help in the kitchen sometimes, they are less likely to resent being excluded on the occasions when it simply isn’t safe for them to be there.

    Regarding TV, computers, video games etc., rather than banning them completely, we had time limits. (Doing it by age becomes a problem as soon as you have more than one!) For example, the youngest was six and the eldest nine when they first started playing Age of Empires and the nature of the game meant that limits needed to be set or we’d have done nothing else! However, to this day, it still amazes me what they learnt from it. History, hand-eye coordination, tactics, negotiation, artistry…

    Like

  • equippedcat

    Oh, and everything they learn to do, should be learned manually first. Writing before typing, paper and pencil before calculator, hand tools before power tools and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

  • equippedcat

    I’d also do languages early, since that seems to be something the young pick up very fast, and the older people, not so fast.

    Liked by 3 people

  • lostinmist

    In their revolutionary adventures.. I myself, have lived without tv in the house for 12 years, and certain videogames though on and off, since about then too. It has changed my consciousness vastly, I think

    Like

  • lostinmist

    In novel, I recall, in a city where every child had a multiplicity of (related or un) aunties and uncles and grams and gramps.. The protagonists found the skills of, I don’t recall precisely so improvise, scratch-fire making, lockpicking, whistling and carving, and signal kiting, incredibly useful. She then thanks her deceased grandma Joanna for their incredibly varied education. ‘ the fifth sacred thing’ sci-fi by starhawk

    Liked by 1 person

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