Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why Homeschool Preschool? Part 2

The Best Classroom Has No Walls
By Contributing Mama Writer: Barbara Curtis
Barbara is a seasoned homeschooling mommy of 12 (yes, twelve blessings), now a grandmother of ten, and a happily married wife. Barbara is a "revert", she was baptized Catholic then Evangelical for many years and has come back to our beautiful Faith! Barbara and her family are a " Family-First kind of family."

[This is the second in a four-part series: Why Your Preschooler Can Thrive at Home taken from a chapter from my book, Mommy, Teach Me! The first part is The Best Teacher is Forever.]

I mentioned how the modern approach to education - compartmentalization - has produced the idea that only professionals are qualified to teach.
A second mistaken notion is that education is something that happens in a building designated for that purpose.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. From the get go, a baby is learning from everything around him. From the time he first grips a rattle and brings it to his mouth to explore with all his senses the size and shape and sound and texture - to his first steps, first torn picture book, first scribble on the wall - your child is expressing his potential for learning in everything he does. The first torn picture book and scribbles on the walls are like beginning science experiments: What are the properties of paper? What is cause and effect? Which is why, though we train children not to repeat destructive behavior, the first time it happens there is no basis for punishment. Until the child knows what is right and wrong, he is conducting research like any good scientist.
So God has given us this setup: A child who loves to learn and a mother who has the potential to be the best teacher her particular child will ever know - two perfect partners in a world perhaps best described by Robert Louis Stevenson:
"The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings"
And what is their classroom?
Quite simply, The World: Whirligig seeds fluttering down from maple branches. Bees buzzing in a thicket of lavender. A salamander slithering from under a rock. A bobwhite's nest built in the middle of the action. A mother kitten and her babies. Lightning and thunder and sunshine and snow. So many different clouds. Produce aisles. The sights and sounds and smells and textures in the kitchen. The order of a place setting at the table. The mail box and the person who comes each day to fill it. The plumbing problem and the person who visits occasionally to fix it. The grief-stricken family for whom you made dinner.
t seems ridiculous to think we have relegated education to a big building with a bunch of rooms - each room filled with same-age children and one grown-up whose specialty is teaching one grade. And even more absurd that we allow the distraction of TV and video games to undermine the child's natural sense of wonder at all that reality has to offer.
Do I know that kids gravitate toward the distractions? Well, since I have kids, I certainly do. And something inside us allows it because we ourselves are jaded. How else to explain parents allowing kids to watch a DVD in the backseat rather than looking out the window at the world around them? We've forgotten our own innocent delight at the world around us.
If you have young children, now is the time not only to keep pointing your child toward the wonder of the world around him, but to rekindle your own sense of awe.
Later we will discuss how to prepare your home environment to better teach your child. But don't get stuck in the idea that any particular place you set aside is your child's classroom.
With you as teacher, the whole world will be his to learn from.
For more information, see my website Mommy, Teach Me! or click on Categories, then Montessori, Preschoolers or Homeschool above. Come back tomorrow for Part Three.

Photo credit: Lisa (Stretch Mark Mama)'s son decorating the table with nature's beauty. And below, Lisa's sons cleaning up a public park.

Once again, Barbara has helped me focus on what is important for my own four children. I've been a little stressed thinking that my kids NEED a specific room for homeschooling and after reading this article I realize how wrong I am. With all the rooms in my home and the most important location is our back and side yards! AKA, our newly favorite classroom without walls. This brings back joyous memories of Literature at a Catholic school in Florida. My favorite days (and that of my almost 35 sixth graders) were when we would move our lesson outdoors under the canopy of this wonderful tree. We would "jump-in-read" the next chapter of our favorite book and enjoy the outdoors. What a concept! It was the times when my students paid the most attention, can you believe it?

Although Barbara is referring to preschoolers in this article, I learned through experience in teaching middle schoolers for seven years that they too enjoy the things we normally label as "for smaller children". One prime example, they love to be read to. Reading under the natural shelter provided by that wonderful tree God created were the happiest and most delightful of my teaching days. I've always said that middle schoolers are just little kids in big kids' bodies. For more neat ideas by this Blogging Mama, please visit her Homeschooling journey:
Mommy Life.

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