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A tale of two children
WND ^ | November 4, 2002 | Vox Day

Posted on 11/04/2002 9:13:02 AM PST by gubamyster

Posted: November 4, 2002 1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com

I am acquainted with two children of pre-school age. Both children are extremely fortunate to belong to their respective families, each of which is strong, loving and rather wealthy. The two fathers are well-educated, intelligent and successful, the two mothers are warm, caring and stay home to care for the children. The children themselves are both bright, happy and well-behaved.

There are two important differences, though. One child is six months older than the other. Also, one child will begin pre-school next year while the other is unlikely to ever set foot in an organized educational facility.

What I find incredibly interesting is to see how this apparently small divergence of intentions has already played a major role in the intellectual development of the two children.

Because they know their child will soon be heading off to school, the first parents are relatively lackadaisical about taking an active part in their child's education. They read to him, of course, but it is primarily for entertainment – certainly not a part of a methodical process. Education, in their view, is the responsibility of his teachers and the educational establishment, which, after all, did a reasonable job of teaching them.

They are not in the least concerned that their child can only recognize 10 or 12 letters of the alphabet, and I am quite sure that they are correct that he will learn the rest quite easily in kindergarten and be reading fluently by the time he reaches second or third grade.

The other parents have elected to take full responsibility for their child's education themselves. They began teaching him the alphabet using Powerpoint slides around the time of his second birthday. After he'd mastered both the lower-case and capital letters, they began introducing him to simple phonics, again using Powerpoint slides jazzed up with cartoon animals. A-a-alligator ... B-buh-bear ... and so on. They weren't fascists about it, and they generally do a single daily session which lasts about five minutes, unless the child specifically asks to "play phonics" later in the day.

Once the simple phonics were mastered, the child began getting bored until his parents introduced a new set of phonics to him, and now he has worked up to a randomized set of 120, which includes more complicated, multi-letter phonics such as "ance", "tial", "iest" and "aught." He has also learned the Greek alphabet, capital and lowercase, and has begun to make the distinction between consonants and vowels.

About a month ago, the parents were delighted to see that the child had discovered that just as letters combine to make phonics, phonics combine to make words. They then introduced him to the phonics-based Bob books, which he has now begun reading. Nor is he merely sight-reading based on familiarity, as he was tested by writing down some simple phrases which he could not have known in advance. I was rather impressed, since the child is all of three! The disparity between the two children is especially marked in light of the fact that the second child is six months younger than the first.

It seems highly probable that by the time the first child is able to read, some three years from now, the second child will be a much more advanced reader than he is today, and indeed will likely have already started learning specific subjects rather than merely building the tools necessary for learning. Furthermore, the first child will be progressing at the rate of the slowest of the 20 or 30 children in his class, whereas the second child will be continuing to advance at his own rate, which, if he is normal, will be significantly faster.

Thus, it is not hard to see how it can be true, as studies have suggested, that the average homeschooled child is as much as three years in advance of his age-peers by the time they have finished high school. Education is not a race, of course, but if it were, then it would appear to be a spectacularly unfair one.

I have strongly supported homeschooling for some time now, but mostly from a theoretical position. Now, seeing it in action, I am more confident than ever in the supreme importance of encouraging parents to teach their children at home.

Vox Day is a novelist and Christian libertarian. He is a member of the SFWA, Mensa and the Southern Baptist Convention. He has been down with Madden since 1992.


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: homeschool; homeschooling

1 posted on 11/04/2002 9:13:02 AM PST by gubamyster
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To: gubamyster
Phonics is great but it will produce the world's worst spellers unless augmented
2 posted on 11/04/2002 9:27:54 AM PST by 2banana
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To: gubamyster
Vox Day is a novelist and Christian libertarian.

"Christian libertarian" is an oxymoronic phrase!

3 posted on 11/04/2002 9:30:00 AM PST by Lurking2Long
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To: gubamyster
This is really a silly article. I'm all for homeschooling, but it seems to me the real issue here is parental initiative and involvement. If the first child's parents wanted to "play phonics" with their child, the fact that he would enter public school two years later would not prevent them from doing so. They are simply lazier parents.

I believe that a child can receive a first-class education at the right public school, as long as his parents are willing to carefully supplement the child's learning with their own values and knowledge. It takes diligence on the level of homeschooling, though. Lazy parents need not apply -- for homeschooling or otherwise taking responsibility for their child's education.
4 posted on 11/04/2002 9:33:42 AM PST by LibertyGirl77
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To: gubamyster
I grew up in a family of eight kids and we all were reading before kindergarten. My older sisters taught me, and I taught my little brother and sister. We didn't have Powerpoint slides, but we did have a good set of refrigerator magnet letters that lasted the span of 15 years, and a few good hand-me-down books which we all read to each other.
5 posted on 11/04/2002 9:39:03 AM PST by Nathan Jr.
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To: gubamyster
I am hs-ing and LOVE it. Everyone asks me with trepidation how it is going, sure I am going to say it is a disaster and will be sending them back to school any day now. They are shocked to see how happy and relaxed I am. "I could never spend all day with my kids" they tell me, i.e., you must be crazy or have no life that you want to do this. My kids are learning at an amazing rate and we actually have fun spending our days together. This summer my 2 year old with no prompting brought me a book and told me 'this is a circle and this is a square'. I hadn't even taught him this- he just picks things up from hearing me teach the older ones.
6 posted on 11/04/2002 9:50:30 AM PST by usmom
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To: LibertyGirl77
What the article does not address is the fact that by home schooling their child, they are protecting him from the socialist brain washing that is prevalent in most public schools today. This poor child probably won't be made aware of political correctness, sex ed which includes the gay lifestyle and on and on. If I had it to do over today, I would certainly home school my kids.
7 posted on 11/04/2002 10:00:20 AM PST by basil
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To: LibertyGirl77
If the first child's parents wanted to "play phonics" with their child, the fact that he would enter public school two years later would not prevent them from doing so. They are simply lazier parents.

You may not have meant this as it sounds, but I'm bothered by calling these parents lazy. First of all, the child is going to enter PRESCHOOL. Maybe that means the child is 4, but perhaps the child is 3.

That the child only recognizes a handful of alphabet letters, it must be that the parents are lazy? I'll say frankly that my youngest child is 4, going to kindergarten next year and doesn't recognize ONE letter of the alphabet.

He does not care. He is not interested. And I'd much rather have a 4 year old child playing with playdough and chasing the dog than sitting down with formal education.

I think parents who do greek letters with their preschooler are much more concerned with their own ego than what their child needs.

8 posted on 11/04/2002 10:05:13 AM PST by Dianna
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To: gubamyster
Hmmm... Every child is different. We homeschool, but we didn't intend to homeschool in the beginning. Our oldest was reading at a fifth grade level by age 5. His younger brother is age 5, now, and he struggles to read. I figure there are two possible reasons: either (1) he didn't receive as much attention or opportunity as his older brother, or (2) he learns differently. While his older brother excelled at reading and writing, the younger one performed spatial tasks like putting puzzles together, etc., much more easily.

The worst part is that, because they're homeschooled, everything they do or say is viewed critically. They may each excel in many different areas, but outsiders will focus on the areas where they don't excel. No child is perfect, but outsiders are always ready to blame homeschooling. The kid is shy? It's homeschooling. And so on.

That's why I hesitate to blame schooling, too. I don't care if other parents homeschool or place their children in school - I just don't think we should be forced to pay for it, that's all.
9 posted on 11/04/2002 10:11:06 AM PST by Tired of Taxes
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To: Dianna
I'll say frankly that my youngest child is 4, going to kindergarten next year and doesn't recognize ONE letter of the alphabet. He does not care. He is not interested. And I'd much rather have a 4 year old child playing with playdough and chasing the dog than sitting down with formal education.

See my post #9 above. I'm a homeschooler, and my second son wasn't interested in the alphabet very much at age 4, either. But, homeschoolers really don't think the way the writer of this article thinks. I've met and spoken with other homeschoolers, most of whom seem to believe that a child shouldn't be pushed. The first homeschooling father I met specifically told me that he thinks parents push boys into reading too early. His own son didn't read until age 8 or so, and now he's a 16 year-old who reads college level textbooks. Most homeschoolers I know seem to prefer a more relaxed atmosphere in which the child isn't pushed and learns at his/her own pace. That's the main point of homeschooling.

However, there are some children who just pick up on things very quickly. We didn't push our oldest son; he just picked up on certain things so quickly. And, yet, in a few other very simple areas, he had trouble figuring things out. Every child is different. It's possible that the parents in the article weren't pushing their child, just giving the child every opportunity to excel.

Speaking of homeschooling... It's Math Day! I'd better get back to it.

10 posted on 11/04/2002 10:22:41 AM PST by Tired of Taxes
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To: TxBec
((( PING )))
11 posted on 11/04/2002 10:23:13 AM PST by Tired of Taxes
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: Motherbear
It is a mistaken impression to believe that homeschoolers support the early teaching of reading. Some do. Some don't.

I don't, particularly. I don't see any particular advantage, and I do see some likely disadvantages.

And you're right, there's a world of learning out there. We have one child, almost 7, who isn't reading much yet. Well, recently she watched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (minus some of the more violent parts) with mom, dad & older sister. It took us 6 hours to watch a 3-hour film. We did, quite naturally, everything a literature class would do in covering the novel: analysis of the plot, talk about the various characters and the way they interacted, symbolism, the theme, etc. My 9-year-old observed, astutely and quite rightly, "Gandalf is kind of like Jesus." So then we talked about one thing representing another, etc. It was only after we'd finished watching the film, and discussing it in detail, that I realized: we'd basically just done 6 hours of literature.

15 posted on 11/04/2002 11:50:24 AM PST by john in missouri
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To: MRAR15Guy56
I agree. I was a "Christian Libertarian" until I quit politics totally a year ago.

16 posted on 11/04/2002 12:11:14 PM PST by JakeWyld
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To: 2banana
Whut?
17 posted on 11/04/2002 9:17:06 PM PST by sailor4321
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To: Lurking2Long
re: post #3

Baptist and Christian is even more of an oxymoron!
18 posted on 11/04/2002 9:39:29 PM PST by Lilly
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To: Lilly
Read your website. I am not Baptist.

If what you teach about faith, baptism, then salvation was correct, then all of the people Jesus healed in the Bible are now roasting in Hell.

They first had faith, then were saved upon receiving His healing (and Him), and then, perhaps, were baptised last.

Don't put our Lord into such legalistic boxes. He harvests were He will, not were you say He will.
19 posted on 11/05/2002 1:40:15 AM PST by Lurking2Long
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To: 2banana
I disagree. Phonics trained students have the biggest vocabularies and are the best spellers.
They quickly read fluently, and are exposed to increasingly complex reading materials far earlier. They develop intuitions about spelling patterns with their wider and deeper exposure to written and spoken language.
20 posted on 11/05/2002 1:50:50 AM PST by SarahW
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To: 2Jedismom; TxBec; Carry_Okie; 2sheep; Alabama_Wild_Man; Aquinasfan; ArGee; arielb; BallandPowder; ..
ping
21 posted on 11/06/2002 5:30:49 AM PST by madfly
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To: 2banana
Actually, sight readers are the worst spellers because they don't look at the individual words, let alone the individual syllables. Most avid readers become sight readers eventually.
22 posted on 11/06/2002 8:48:05 AM PST by Eva
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