This morning before I started work, I stumbled upon a discussion on this blog where the topic surrounded the idiocy of parents who are trying to teach their babies to read. And well, I thought it would be fun to join in on the conversation.
So I anonymously suggested that my 21-month old son knows how to read and play the piano. And with the use of dried beans, he can do simple addition, subtraction and create images of "The Last Supper." For balance and coordination, I am teaching him to roller skate and to improve dexterity, he uses chopsticks to eat his Cheerios. I further suggested that anyone who is not doing at least as much with their toddler, is lazy and robbing their child of their full potential.
(Michele, I thought for sure you'd know it was me with the use of your tracking software!)
Of course this was all a joke. But I couldn't help but think every so often, I'll find myself engaged in a conversation with someone who has children that are similarly aged to ours. And inevitably, that conversation might turn to all the amazing things that our children are doing.
Yet whenever I find myself engaged in these discussions, I wonder if us parents are primarily proud of our child - or - if we are proud of ourselves that we were responsible for creating such an intelligent individual?
The popular consensus is that children are a direct reflection of their parents. Or at a minimum, children are a direct reflection of the experiences that their parents have exposed them to. So, if a child is able to read and write and tie their shoes by the time they are five, clearly the parents must be doing something amazing.
We recently took our children out of what we considered to be the best preschool in our area. Even though the director of the preschool told us that leaving them in her school would most certainly guarantee the strongest academic foundation possible, we made the decision to remove our children from school and keep them home with us.
I'll never forget telling the Director that our children would not be returning to school. I'll never forget the stunned disbelief that we would actually take our children out of a program that in her opinion, would undoubtedly path the way for overwhelming success in their life. I'll never forget the frown she gave me which clearly said, "You are making a terrible mistake."
Obviously, I'm not a motivated parent who is concerned about my children's future. Obviously, I have no idea what I'm doing. Obviously, I don't think that my children's education is important.
Sometimes, I believe that I am giving our children the best possible start to life. And other times, I feel like I am blowing it big time. Especially when I get around families that appear to be doing so much more with their kids.
I find myself comparing my children against these other children.
I find myself comparing myself against these other parents.
Oh, I know I shouldn't.
But I do.
Because sometimes I don't know if I'm doing everything right.
Everyone knows that the window of opportunity where children's brains are rapidly developing is small. And unless I jump on the bandwagon of academic exposure now, our children will miss this heightened period of knowledge absorption forever.
So, why aren't they in violin lessons??
Or in preschool a few days a week??
Why is it that I don't provide a more structured learning environment and instead, let the children explore to their heart's content??
I feel a little awkward saying that we 'homeschool' our children because the fact is, there isn't much "schooling" going on. In reality, we have made the decision to keep our children home.
But I don't know if this really constitutes "homeschool." Because some days, we don't do anything that remotely resembles school.
I'm not pushing them to read. Or write.
Or learn all the flags of the world's nations.
I'm allowing them to play. Because for the most part, I believe that they are learning a lot through their play. But are they learning enough?
Last week, I used a bunch of PVC connections that were laying around and let the children create various pathways for water flow.
While I was helping them with this project, I thought that this provided a great illustration for fluid mechanics and I felt proud of my ingenuity.
But in the midst of this, I happened to notice that one of our children had pooped in the middle of our patio.
So, whatever feeling of pride that I had in regards to raising the next generation of open minded and creative engineers, was quickly replaced with the feeling of dismay that I am raising a bunch of savages.
Welcome to my home school classroom!
You might want to watch where you step.