Should I Do Formal Homeschooling With My 7 Year Old?
Recently, Carla, a homeschooling mother of two young boys wrote with concerns about whether she should use the “wait until eight” approach that homeschool pioneers Raymond and Dorothy Moore promoted. The Moores suggested that children do not need any formal education until after they turned eight years old. Carla was wondering if this would work for one of her sons but she had some misgivings about the possible results.
Carla wrote: “I’m not concerned with the grade level as I could easily wait a year with both of them and it would be fine, but I was wondering how you teach the basics especially to the 7 year old, and stay within the state homeschool law, while using the Moore’s plan. He is very weak in basic math facts, but very advanced in sequencing type things. He’s an okay reader and needs work on penmanship. He would probably be labeled ADHD if he were in school… “
Carla, I think that while the Moore’s were not advocating a pencil and paper approach they did suggest active hands-on approaches to young learning. A child really does much better if mom first teaches him to move around efficiently and effectively in the home. And believe me, that is a lot of work! This means teaching a child to do chores, like cleaning his room, doing the dishes and folding clothes. You will especially find that the child labeled ADHD has a hard time with these tasks. And mom cannot take her eyes off him for a minute! Or he will wander away and forget what he was supposed to be doing.
The training will most likely seem tedious and never ending, but I can assure you great rewards will eventually follow. If you do not faint or grow weary in well doing, you will reap huge benefits when he is older – much older. Older means possibly 17 years old! But at a time when other parents are despairing that their distractible children will never amount to anything, you will be amazed at what he is accomplishing and how has grown so mature.
Some parents can find it very difficult to teach children to do household work. That is because they are used to hitting the textbooks and insisting that their children sit quietly in chairs. Boys who are not doing seatwork but are washing dishes and spilling water everywhere can seem very out of control.
And telling a child to take items upstairs almost never works because they get dropped along the way. But, if you are determined and creative and break down (lesson plan) just exactly how you would get someone to deliver the socks all the way to the drawer, you will succeed in your educational efforts.
The same comments could be made about sorting a junk drawer. You teach them a rote method. “First we sort all the pencils, then the crayons, then the batteries.” This is the real work of education. If you can teach a child to tackle a problem like a junk drawer, then he will be equipped to tackle any scholastic problem. I would not hesitate to put junk drawer sorting down as a math activity. Look in your mathematics teacher’s manual, many hands – on activities in the math book are exactly like sorting a junk drawer.
The next step in education is to make small kits in boxes. Subjects like science, art and history lend themselves very well to being made into small kits. A kit can be any hands on activity, thrown into a box to keep it neatly together. For instance, I purchase a small hands on science book on electricity, gather all the items needed and place these together with the book in plastic box. You cannot just give a kit like this to a young child and tell him to do it. You have to sit there the whole time and watch him and weakly assist. Some good advice: all his kit work should be at or slightly below his ability level. Save the tougher stuff for later.
For handwriting, Handwriting Without Tears materials have extra activities in the teacher’s manual to improve hand/eye ability. A five minute instruction period 4 times a week will go a long way to neat handwriting.
For math, try a math book with LESS problems not more. Consider Spectrum Math by McGraw Hill and always have a number line and objects out for him to count with. When he can’t remember a math answer teach him to work it out on the number line or by counting objects instead of just sitting there, daydreaming and waiting for the answer to fall out of the air. Learning to count out answers teaches a good work ethic which is much more important that getting any one math answer correct from memory, and counting out improves math memory anyway.
Finally, prepare a young child with lots and lots of language, like rhyming games, poetry and jumping rope and hand clapping rhymes. I could go on and on! Did you know that the number one predictor of reading success is the ability to rhyme? I would put any one of these activities under the category of reading instruction.
“but basically he is a pretty intelligent kid with too much energy for his little body!” Carla writes
Well Carla, welcome to the real world of real little boys. Your son’s energy will not last forever, though. I have raised seven children and five are boys. A little boy’s energy will all too soon turn into a teenage boy’s lethargy, and don’t get me started on Dad’s lack of energy! So, find a way to enjoy that bucking bronco while he’s around and arrange his homeschool to really use that energy up, and you will have great memories later.
God Bless The Children and You – too,