Skip to comments.A tale of two children
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.
"Christian libertarian" is an oxymoronic phrase!
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.
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.
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.