Sunday, February 24, 2013

We went to PA last weekend for a little vacation, and I visited an educational store there. A woman who worked there said she was a former preschool and kindergarten teacher and asked if she could help me find something. I asked her about resources for teaching some specific phonetics skills.

When she showed me some workbooks that were heavy on writing and drawing, I explained that I was looking for something more visual since my son was young and didn't enjoy writing. When she heard that Henry was three, she looked at me like I was crazy. First she said that there was no way that he could really read. When I assured her that he could, she acted like I was "hot-housing" (a term I just found out about) or something, drilling him with concepts too advanced for him. When I said that I only followed his interest, teaching him when he asked to be taught and answered his questions about reading, she said, conciliatory, "Well, it's not developmentally normal. Pretty soon he'll just stop and then all the other kids will catch up."

At first I was baffled. Why didn't she just show me what I wanted (and make a sale)? Why was she so invested in convincing me that my son was weird, that I was crazy, that Henry learning early and well was something to worry about, that it would be fine because eventually he would fall back and average out?

I know not all teachers are like this lady. There are certainly teachers out there who see each child as an individual and do their very best to bring out the full potential of each student in their care. But it made me realize that sending Henry to school might subject him to personalities like these, who want everything and everybody to fit in a neat little box, those who see working ahead in the same light  as falling behind.

Homeschooling is hard. It will probably get a lot harder before we are through. But it's worth it to let my children learn the best way they can, whether that fits into someone else's timeline or not.

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