Monday, January 22, 2007

3 X R = Boring

My experience with homeschooling so far has led me to strongly doubt that any "Back to Basics" approach is going to educate kids. Granted, teachers have more luck with boring drills than parents do, but pul-eeze, where's the hook? Give kids material that is interesting and relevant, and they'll learn to read, they'll learn history, they'll learn about the world around them, they'll learn science, and they'll learn math. Give them individual letters, words, and math problems, and they'll tune out -- wouldn't you?

I heard a recent NPR report on 12 year-olds who can't read, and I just wonder, how the heck are they stopping those kids from learning to read when they are 5, 6, 7, or 8? My guess is that they don't get to hear quality literature that makes them want to read, and there isn't reading material around that makes them interested in reading. And maybe other aspects of the atmosphere at home and at school don't encourage reading.

Right now (because I know my ideas are subject to change!) I believe in enriching the environment -- in reading quality stories of interest to the child (in our case I pick many, but not all, of them and may drop a reading if it isn't interesting to the student). For math, I'd love to find a project based curriculum, but the chance of any curriculum meshing with my son's particular interests are slight. So I look for opportunities (i.e. how many yous at 50 pounds would it take to equal a 600 pound hippo baby?)

Perhaps I got lucky, but I don't really know how my seven year-old learned to read. He can read though. Lately, I haven't been pushing him, although I did in the fall. Why would I? He reads at grade level. When he's ready, or when the right material appears (and I do work on that), he'll start reading books. Why make him dislike it by pushing it? I see no benefit to that at all. Certainly public education is not succeeding at creating a populace who loves to read, so I won't follow their failing model of reading x number of books a week.

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