Earlier this month we received the exciting news that we’re going to be grandparents later this summer. Our first grandbaby! How exciting.
I immediately began dreaming of all the “firsts” that I could share with my oldest daughter … the first time she feels the baby move, the first time she sees an ultrasound picture, the first time she realizes she can no longer see her feet, let alone reach them … You get the idea.
I also began thinking about our daughter’s childhood, and the "first" choices we made for her upbringing … including the decision to homeschool she and her siblings. She survived through all my researching and experimenting with homeschooling. I have no idea if my daughter and son-in-law will choose to homeschool their children. We certainly will honor whatever decision they make, and I have promised myself that I will not harass or even subtly try to influence them in that decision (well, maybe just a little).
But just in case they do decide to homeschool this child prodigy (whom I have nicknamed Felix) who will be my grandchild … I tried to think of the three most important things I would share with them based on my almost 20 years of homeschooling experience …
1) This baby will be the smartest, most intelligent, most creative child on the face of the planet ... simply because Felix is yours (and comes from our gene pool)! But no matter how much Calculus darling little Felix can do at age 2, please let him/her be a *child*. The world is full of wonderfully amazing learning experiences you can have with this wee one without ever picking up a textbook. Save the math workbooks for a later date and fill the hours with reading great books, playing outside, wandering through the zoo, and visiting grandma. Dr. Raymond Moore had it right when he said … “…recipe for genius: More of family and less of school, more of parents and less of peers, more creative freedom and less formal lessons.”
2) It matters not what age Felix learns to read independently, or what the little girls and boys in his/her Sunday School class are doing in school. Felix will come with his/her own set of giftings and challenges. He/she may be like his uncle, who didn’t learn to read well until he was 9 years old, but was doing complex math calculations in his head at age 6. Or maybe more like his aunt who wrote beautifully detailed stories at the age of 8, but couldn’t make change without a calculator until she was in her teens. Bottom line … be prepared to meet this child’s educational needs based on his/her skill set … not on some government-generated standards, or the pressure to conform to what others in your group of friends are doing. Find confidence in the knowledge that you are the best teacher your child will ever have ... because you know him best!
3) Socialization is not the looming hurdle of homeschooling that many would like to think it is. Having children spend multiple hours per day in a classroom with peers of the same age group does not qualify as socialization. Putting them on a sports field with team members of the same age range does not qualify as socialization. Socialization, as it is defined, is to acquire a personal identity and learn the norms, values, behavior and skills appropriate to his/her social position. (www.dictionary.com). Socialization is done well when a child interacts with others across the age spectrum. There is as much value in playing with a peer as there is in learning to respect and enjoy time spent with an older adult, or in learning to be patient and encouraging with a younger sibling. Playing team sports can be a great and valuable opportunity for Felix, but it is not where he/she will gain his most valuable socialization skills.
4) Ok … I know I said “three” most important things … but grandmas get to change their minds. Your education choice is your own to make … between you two and God. There will be a multitude of well-meaning “advisors” that will offer their input related both to your parenting and how you choose to educate your child. Learn to listen with a smile, and then quietly discard what does not line up with what God has shown you. Never be afraid to ask for input and suggestions, but ultimately, God has given Felix to the two you, not anyone else (not even his/her wonderful grandmother). When it comes to raising Felix, learn to check with Him both first and last.
Still on the journey ...