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Posts tagged ‘academics’

Recently I discovered Raymond & Dorothy Moore’s books, Better Late Than Early and Home Grown Kids. These books have really revolutionized the way I think about education, school, child development… well, many things! Because they are so similar, I am going to review them together. One spends more time on the research and the other spends more time on the various years of child development and how you should deal with children at various ages, but other than that, they are nearly identical.

Both books start out reviewing research that has been done on childhood development, showing that delaying education has benefits for kids. The reason is that, while they may appear bright in certain areas, they need to reach a certain level of maturity in various areas, including emotional, physical (including especially eyesight and fine motor skills), and intellectual (reasoning ability), before they are ready for the classroom and formal academics. They call reaching an appropriate level of maturity in all these areas the “Integrated Maturity Level” (IML), and they say that most children usually reach this level around the ages of 8-10.

They say that starting a child before they are ready will cause them to burn out early. There is much evidence for this even in recent research (everything in their books is a few decades old—their books were published in the early 80’s). For instance, this article that discusses the benefits of delaying academic training in math, and studies have shown that delaying entrance into school by one year actually reduces inattention and hyperactivity even years later.

Though not specifically mentioned in the books, the Moore Formula, as it is called, is very possibly the ideal way to homeschool. I would encourage you to check out that link, but in a nutshell, the formula is that your child’s education should include 3 things: Work, Service, and Academics. We usually think of education in terms of academics, but learning how to work and serving others develop character, and character training is even more important than academics.

A Mennonite school teacher friend of ours said that he would rather graduate a student who was poor academically but had a strong moral character, than an academically bright child who had a weak moral character, and I heartily agree. One of my favorite authors said in a book on child rearing, “True education means more than taking a certain course of study. It is broad. It includes the harmonious development of all the physical powers and the mental faculties. It teaches the love and fear of God and is a preparation for the faithful discharge of life’s duties.” Child Guidance, page 293.

I did not understand the principles I am learning from these books when I started homeschooling my daughter. She was 5, and she learned to read before she turned 6. But she never really did well with reading until this past summer, when she was going on 8. She has decided that she doesn’t like school, and I have backed off on how much I expect her to do. I am going to spend the rest of the school year focusing on the 3 R’s, keeping her formal work to less than two hours a day, four days per week, even though she is 9 and would traditionally be expected to do more than that. We will also explore areas of interest. Currently that means learning about horses. And letting her draw lots of them, since she loves drawing. As you can see, she is quite talented for 9 years old!

Horse Drawing

by Gislaine Reynoso, December 2015

I attempted twice to teach my son, who had just turned 6, to read, but now I have backed off again. He knows almost all the letter sounds now, as well as many of their names (I taught him sounds first), but he hated when I called him for school, although he did okay once we got started. So after trying twice, I backed off again, and now he is starting to sound out words on his own, even learning to get to a few (safe) places online with a little coaching, writing letters of the alphabet on his pictures, and in general getting comfortable with letters and words on his own terms. He’s going to be 7 this month, but I’m not going to push him. He has plenty of time to learn before Oregon requires him to be tested (in 3rd grade; he’ll be 10 by then), and I expect he will excel by the time he is required to sit down for the test. He is definitely bright.

Anyhow, I wish I had had these books before I started homeschooling—indeed, before I had children! The principles are so simple, yet so practical. They go through each stage of a child’s development and show what you can expect and what you can teach and how to do it.

Another thing the Moores teach in their books is that once a child is ready for school, he should be started in the same grade as his peers, especially if you put him into regular school. So if he is 8, he could start second or third grade, instead of starting with first grade. If he is 10, he would start fourth or fifth. They say that kids who have delayed starting formal education will catch up to their peers by the end of the school year, but that putting them in a lower grade will cause problems, because the work will be too easy. It is easier for them to learn new concepts at an older age, so the things that younger children spend a couple of years leaning, they will learn in a couple of months. This is a great advantage, because they will spend fewer years in formal school, thus drastically reducing the risk of burnout (something I experienced around the age of 16—an age that I could have finished school, I think, if I had been allowed to accelerate; but that is a whole other topic!).

All in all, these books have revolutionized my perspective on education and how I conduct our homeschool. They are currently my favorite books to recommend!

What experiences have you had with early schooling or delaying schooling?

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