Why Homeschool Series: Reason #3 (Part 2)

In my last post, I told how my husband and I seized upon our children’s inborn love of learning and made it a lifelong path for them by teaching them to read as babies. We began by reciting the alphabet and numbers to them a couple of times every day from when they were newborns.

By the time they were a year or so old, they were so used to hearing the alphabet that they would try to repeat each letter after us. They couldn’t say them yet, of course, but they made grunting sounds, and I knew that in their minds they could hear how it was supposed to sound. Once they’d learned to say them, I introduced visuals, ABC flash cards, so they could associate what the letter looked like with what it sounded like. First lower-case letters, then when they had those down pat, we introduced upper-case letters. Children love a new challenge. I only introduced the next level of learning when they were ready, but they would be so excited for it, as children naturally are when society’s limited expectations aren’t forced upon them. They absolutely loved finding the shapes of letters everywhere, in clouds, trees, furniture. We made games out of making letters with our bodies, spotting letters on signs when we were out and about. They were observant and found letters where I never, ever would’ve thought to look for them.

The numbers equally excited them. We didn’t just give a baby a handful of Cheerios. We counted out the Cheerios individually in front of them. Eventually they started counting everything themselves. And by using objects like Cheerios, pennies, and the like, they learned simple addition and subtraction. They’ve been good at math ever since.

It was just a natural progression to move them ahead to learning the phonics. In fact, it was necessary, in order to keep them challenged and excited. And I will never forget the days, with each boy at about three years old, that they learned to put the phonics sounds together and sound out simple three-letter words. When they first caught onto that, there was no stopping them. They wanted to keep reading words all day long. They bugged me constantly to write more words for them to sound out. I will ever be grateful that I was there to witness that magic, memorable moment for each of my boys. I will never forget it and, as a lover of books myself, can’t imagine having that moment robbed from me by the school system.

With their box fully unlocked now (refer to last post), the boys voluntarily read books about astronomy, geography, buildings, weather, anything that interested them, while their peers were still learning their colors and shapes. We’ve rarely had to limit their TV and computer time because the majority of their choices in shows are educational in nature. Anything learning-related or creative has always been given top priority in our home. We’ve let chores slide if a child was busy reading; books have often cluttered the house with no mention of putting them away; I will drop almost anything to look at something that they made or discovered that they want to show me. Almost every birthday or Christmas gift we give them is educational in some way, and they love every one of them. They’ve never known any different. One boy once asked Santa for a Dymo labelmaker so he could punch out words and label all of his things. Even sitting in church, hymn-singing time was spent either pointing to the words or to the notes and guiding their hands to conduct the music. I seize teaching moments any time of the day or night to discuss whatever comes to mind or whatever they ask about. I love learning and want to share my excitement about it with them.

I doubt many five-year-olds know what the Taj Mahal is or where it’s found, the difference between the flags of Australia and New Zealand, or are familiar with Scott Joplin’s music, or the Willis Tower. I smile when I remember overhearing our five-year-old one day asking an older friend if he liked the Taj Mahal. He was surprised when the friend didn’t know what he was talking about. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not knowing about the Taj Mahal that’s important; it’s engendering a curiosity about the world in general, which translates into more focused interests and passions later on.

Again, this wasn’t time-consuming for us to teach them as babies (maybe a total of 15 minutes a day, and beyond that, just practicing a “learning lifestyle”). It is my belief that almost any child would respond to this way of learning, probably being labeled as “gifted”, but really, just having their natural love of learning uncovered and shown to them.

~to be continued~

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