First Grade and Schooling

10 Jul

Health Update: I was feeling a bit better for a few days, but things have gone downhill. I’m not sleeping well and I’ve had some very unpleasant symptoms, which are worse at night. My doctor’s appointment isn’t until the 23rd. I’m exhibiting a few symptoms of lymphoma. My father has lymphoma. Apparently, of all the cancers, it’s one of the best to get as it has a very high cure rate. I’m hoping by writing it, it won’t be true. You know how it is…if you tell someone something big, it doesn’t usually happen. I’d rather be considered a hypochondriac than be sick. šŸ™‚


Warning: slight rant ahead

As mentioned in a previous post, I decided to do another year of ‘Kindergarten.’ I felt Stiggy was ready for most of first grade, but not all of it. But I was really on the fence about it.

A few readers have commented saying that I don’t need to pigeon-hole what we do and apply grade levels. I totally agree with this. There’s no need for us to mimic schools and apply those labels. And anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m quite anti-schooling. I make no bones about it: I feel children should be raised within their families, not by schools. Education begins at home and I see no reason for schools to take over unless a parent truly cannot home educate. I feel strongly about this. I don’t rant about it here because what’s the point reinventing the wheel? And for most of my readers, I’m preaching to the choir (Let’s see, how many euphemisms can I use in this post, lol!?) Other like-minded bloggers have penned excellent posts (see sidebar for a few) about the schooling system, so I don’t feel the need to have my say about it (usually).

Yes, schools have turned out one or two brilliant people (I dare say they were brilliant before entering school; the school was just lucky to count them among their own and succeeded in not inflicting too much damage upon them) and not everyone’s been harmed beyond repair by school. But homeschooled children do better than schooled children, and schooling does NOT provide healthy socialisation and in no way resembles the real world. This is a proven fact, both statistically and anecdotally. I’ve done plenty of research (and I don’t mean via google) about this. All the pro-schoolers that I’ve spoken to have done NO research; it’s all based on personal opinion and doing things the way they’ve always been done.

When I first began homeschooling I felt a need to do everything differently than schools; I didn’t want what we did to in any way resemble school, purely based on principle. After a while though, this felt a bit like bra-burning: yeah, you’re making a point, but you’re robbing yourself of something quite useful. Why can’t I take the good and forget the bad?

So that’s where we are now. For the most part, our homeschooling looks nothing like school. For one thing, we use books. Sorry, I mean real books, and lots of ’em. He doesn’t have to raise his hand to speak or ask to go to the toilet. He doesn’t have to wait until everyone else gets it before moving on. If he needs more work on something, he’s provided with that. He’s not graded and labeled like meat, and he’s not being brainwashed about the latest fads and must-haves. He’s not bullied.

I’ve always found it appalling when parents say it’s ‘good’ for children to experience bullying. Do they themselves bully their own kids? If it’s so good for them, why not? Because that’s considered abuse. But from their peers it’s ‘socialisation.’ It’s a bit like saying, ‘I want to teach you how to love, so I’ll show you hate.’ Bullying in childhood prepares children to bully and be bullied in adulthood. If you want kids to be kind, communicative and diplomatic, raise them in a kind, communicative, and diplomatic atmosphere. Want them to be insecure and/or bullies? Raise them amongst bullying. It’s not rocket science; you reap what you sow, and all that. I don’t know anyone who was bullied and was grateful for the experience. It’s humiliating and destructive. I could go on and on but I’ll stop now.

Anyway, on to more pleasant pastures…there are a few fun and useful things about school. School bags and supplies, packed lunches, some of the organisational tools and trappings for teachers…

My point is (yes, I’m getting there) that I find it useful, for my own purposes, to assign him to a virtual grade level. He doesn’t know he’s a kindergartener; that’s purely for my reference and for selecting materials. I also love the history cycling of WTM and I want to keep to it. I’m an organisational nut; I love having things ‘just so’ and I find a little pigeon-holing a useful thing. For now. It’ll probably all change as we go. I expect to.

As I mentioned above, I was on the fence about which ‘grade’ Stiggy should be in next year. He was going on to first grade math regardless, reading instruction is based purely on need, and I felt he could handle most of the Well-Trained Mind first grade curriculum, but I wasn’t sure about history and the literature selection, so we were just going to do another sort-of kindergarten, with a few first grade resources.

But something has since tipped the scales towards first grade: Stiggy has taken an interest in ancient Egypt. So, I’ve pulled out Story of the World, a few other resources, and we’ve hit the library. He’s really enjoying this and if I know him at all, this is going to lead to more historical interests.

So, that just leaves the literature selection to deal with. Well, we’ll give it a go and see how we get on. It will, after all, be cycled 2 more times, so it’s not crucial that he get it all, or even that we do it all. He enjoys Aesop’s fables already, and I think the interest in history is going to make the literature more accessible for him.

Because I can tailor his curriculum to meet his needs, I’m almost certain we’re going to end up in a situation where he’s doing second-grade this and fourth-grade that, but I’d at least like to begin grammar stage truly at the beginning. We’ll worry about later…later.

Lots of planning to do, a few books to buy…

We’re going to add subjects gradually, thought. We’re supposed to be on summer break now. We’ll do ancient Egypt, then we’ll go back and do the intro and chapter one from SOTW, continue with reading, then come September add one subject at a time.


5 responses to “First Grade and Schooling

  1. Sherry

    July 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    So sorry to hear your sick–you'll be in my prayers.

  2. Michelle

    July 11, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Thanks, Sherry. šŸ™‚

  3. Kez

    July 11, 2009 at 11:04 am


    Big hopes that you are just a hypochondriac šŸ™‚

    I'll be thinking of you..


  4. Sravani

    July 12, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Hi Michelle,
    This is my first visit to your wonderful and resourceful blog. I happened to see your health update. I am sorry to hear about it. I hope things get better and cleared up soon for you, and that you turn to be just a hypochondriac.
    My best wishes to you and your wonderful family.

  5. Michelle

    July 13, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Thanks Kez & Sravani. šŸ™‚


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