21 February 2012

Individuality and Education

My son is four. If we were still in England, and I wasn't going to home educate, he would be heading to reception in September. Thinking of this fact had led to me musing about the lack of individuality in a lot of schools. In fact, that is one of the reasons I chose to home educate. However, in some States, that lack of indivuality carries over into home education, since some States require portfolios or standardised testing or a teacher looking at the work and certifying that it is the appropriate grade level. And of course the pigeon-holing begins before the child reaches school-age, with the developmental checks that apply to all children, regardless of education plans, as I've discussed previously.

And therein lies the problem. Who decides what all children of a certain age-range should know? Why is there little or no accommodation for children doing different things at different levels (ideally this is accommodated, and some schools manage to do so, but many do not due to lack of time and resources)?

I had all these thought in my head this week, as I wondered how I will handle it if we remain in a State that does require the portfolio or standardised test or whatnot. I told Kieran that if he wants to learn to read, to let me know. I actually think he can read certain words, but he's never been one to display his knowledge, and I know that pushing him in things backfires. He will do it when he's ready.

With this in mind, it is perhaps coincidental that I read this article this morning. It reminded me of something my father, a man who has worked in education for over 40 years, said to me. He said it is impossible to keep a child from reading if he is simply exposed to books and reading. The article seems to say the same thing. It also matches my own experience. I know I could read prior to going to school, though I have no memory of learning to read. I know I have always loved books and had my parents read to me. I share that love of books with my children, taking them to the library and reading with them. My husband, having degrees in Creative Writing and French literature, also shares that love of language and reading with them. So I have no doubt our children will learn to read when they are ready.

The question, though, is how to quantify that and demonstrate it to others. That is more difficult, and it is harder to explain that a child not reading at x age does not necessarily indicate a problem. Children are individuals, too, and needn't be pigeon-holed, in my opinion.

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