Friday, April 30, 2010

My Journey to Educational Eureka, Part II

In Part I, I mentioned what I had learned about early development from Maria Montessori and John Holt. 

While it made sense to me and I liked the ideas I had read, I was still struggling as it was so contrary to everything I knew and heard.  Everyone I talked to thought I was nuts (ok, so they may have had other reasons for thinking that). I wanted to know what it looked like in practice, and I esp wanted to find some people with Christian values and a solid Biblical foundation who also believed in that style of learning.  I'd only heard about it from humanistic thinkers.  That is when the Lord saw fit to guide me to 'When you Rise Up , A Covenantal approach to Homeschooling' by R.C. Sproul, JR.  He gave some history of education in America and gave Biblical reasoning and approach to parenting, as a covenant between God and the parents. And that included all aspects of training, liberal education being only one aspect of that.  And he was keen on not starting 'formal' work too young, but concentrating on character development and working with each child one-on-one.  Reading Sproul really helped me to start realizing what a big job God gave us when he gave us children. It's easy to become a parent, but hard to actually 'parent'.  But that is no excuse for passing that responsibility on to others.  Sproul was a bit 'harsh', but totally worth reading again and again.  Someday I will answer to God for my children.  Not their teachers or grandparents or friends-I will have to answer.  Phew!

Something else I realized about this same time is that I personally did not retain a fraction of the things I had learned in school.  And I also realized that with my studying of education, I started becoming truly passionate and found myself actually retaining information that applied to my life.  It was an amazing discovery for me.  I realized for the first time, that it is possible to love to learn.  To have a passion for knowledge and information.  But, it has to be important to a person first.  It has to matter and have an affect on the person.  I started to get an 'itch' to not only teach my children important information, but to make them love to learn.  And that passion has only intensified as I've begun to realize that it's possible.  Woo hoo!!!

Sproul learned a lot of what he knew about homeschooling from Raymond and Dorothy Moore.   They were a Christian couple who were very educated and intelligent and even involved in education for years before they started realizing there was a better way to teach.  So they started their own research and taught their own children and a number of others.  They were also greatly involved in the legal battles of the 1970s, which eventually allowed for more freedom in homeschooling in America (Thank you Moores!!!!).  They were actually pretty good friends with John Holt and highly influenced by Montessori also.  See, it makes sense, it really does!  :)

I read a number of the Moore books, including the Handbook, Homestyle Teaching, Home Spun Schools, and Home Grown Kids.   They all basically said the same thing (don't panic if you want to read about what they believe, but don't want to have to read 4 books-I can't even say I'd suggest one over the other).  They believe that children should not do formal book learning until they are at least 8, and sometimes as late as 12.  Children need a lot of hands-on, free play when they are young.  They even go so far as to seriously warn against a child under 8 reading for more then 20 minutes at a time, as studies show that it can cause them to become dyslexic, as their eye muscles have not matured yet for that kind of strain. How contrary to today's society is that?!?  I was so relieved (of course, my 6 year old daughter spends hours reading and I can't bring myself to make her stop, although I do try and distract her if she's been at it for awhile).

The Moore's did a lot of research into how children develop and how best to work with their God-given growth schedule.  They were big on teaching life skills and character when they are young.  Using chores and schedules and home-businesses, etc. to build character, skill and good habits.

Here is 'The Moore Formula' from their website:

1) Study
from a few minutes to several hours a day, depending on the child's maturity.
2) Manual work
at least as much as study.
3) Home and/or community service
an hour or so a day. Focus on kids' interests and needs; be an example in consistency, curiosity, and patience. Live with them! Worry less about tests; we'll help you there. With the Moore Formula, if you are loving and can read, write, count, and speak clearly, you are a master teacher.

How cool is that?  It's so natural.  Just the way I believe God intended parenting to be.

To be continued...

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