We’re pretty new to the official homeschooling situation. Geekling has just turned five, and technically he should be scheduled to start kindergarten either tomorrow in one county, or the 19th in another. Having worked and studied in the early childhood field for a decade, I don’t believe that five year old kids belong in classrooms behind desks. I feel very strongly in fact that they should be in back yards, on living room floors, and standing on chairs in the kitchen. If they’re in school it should consist of block centers, singing, easels, tricycles, and participating in activities geared towards wiggly bodies and growing minds.
So that’s reason number one that we homeschool. Reason number two has more to do with Geekling as an individual. We call him Geekling because he is just that. He’s a knowledge sponge on steroids, he loves to learn, thrives on new facts and information. Like any kid he does his best when he’s involved, engaged, and interested. His interests vary, but typically they’re based around science. The first place we hit at the library is the nonfiction section, where he checks out as many science books as he can carry. He knows we won’t read them, they’re far too wordy at this point, he just wants to look at the pictures, and occasionally asks us to explain the things there. He’s had full access to Netflix since he could operate the WiiMote, and his show of choice is documentaries. Not the watered down version, real honest to goodness BBC documentaries. When he was 3 1/2 he spent a week watching nothing but a documentary on Birds of Paradise, complete with black and white footage from back in the day.
Before you start thinking that I’m painting him into some kind of genius that should be Harvard bound… here’s the full Mommy disclosure. My five year old doesn’t know his alphabet. That’s right, he refuses to learn, has absolutely zero interest, and has proclaimed that he does not need those letter things. He just really learned to count to twenty, in fact he still seems to have a personal vendetta against the numbers sixteen and eighteen. And me? I’m ok with it. I mean, now I am. Watching his best friend (6 months younger) count her way up the 28 steps to our apartment when she was two, calling off letters when we took her to Disney at three, and now learning to read and write her name threw me for a loop. She loves that type of learning, eats it up with a sparkly pink spoon (just don’t get her started on some of the less pleasant parts of science, like decomposition). Just like they can’t agree over whether they’re playing Cinderella or Dinosaur Hunter Ninja, their interests and learning styles are night and day. For a long while I struggled with the need to catch Geekling up. Get him on track! I spent almost two weeks fighting with him over letters, numbers, and eventually any kind of school at all. The panic set in, he wasn’t even in Kindergarten yet and I was FAILING AT HOMESCHOOL.
Then, thankfully I stopped. I took a breath, and I let my sanity catch up with me. I went searching again for my “why”. I reread all my books, my blogs, my research and notes. I reminded myself that I value the journey so much more than the destination. Education isn’t a race to “get them ready”. It’s a life long meandering where hopefully a child falls in love with learning. If we keep our eyes on the finish line, we miss the flowers beneath our feet. So Geekling and I will be taking our time. Eventually he’s going to learn his letters (I suspect he already knows more than he lets on), and he’ll stop discriminating against sixteen and eighteen. He’ll do it in his own time, just like he decided to wean, walk, and give up the binky, in his own time. My most important job right now is to make the resources available, give him the freedom to embrace them, and have the patience to accept that he will do so on his time frame.