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Six Word Saturday: 2 Cheshvan, 5771

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…But what about the little boy?

GZ’s favourite expression this past week? “I don’t have to go to school… I’m homeschooled!”

He heard Naomi say it once and has latched onto it with an evangelistic fervour. Which is weird because so far, I have written precisely ZERO about small boy’s education. I mean, he was a baby… and then he was one… and then he was TWO. That’s not school!

But suddenly, this fall, many of his peers are in school. Or at least their parents call it school.

This corresponds to a phenomenon I’ve noticed in the homeschooling world… so many homeschoolers online have such young children! At a “homeschool” drop-in at the library last year, most of the kids were not even what I would have called “school age.”

Don’t hate me, but I always feel slightly discouraged that so many people call themselves homeschoolers and it turns out their “students” are toddlers: one-, two-, and three-year-olds.

To me, that’s not exactly homeschooling. It may well be the INTENTION to homeschool. It may well be a COMMITTMENT to maximize the educational value of your young child’s years at home (in which case, I get a little anxious about overprogramming such a young kid). It may well be a desire to STRUCTURE, document and pay attention to those precious early years… but is it school?

Perhaps I’m cynical because I have seen what happens to those intentions. I have some idea of the dismal statistics: how many of those early-years homeschoolers actually stick it out to the grade-school level.*

In part, it feels a bit like the cloth diapering journey: everybody will TELL you they wanted to do it, but didn’t. Everybody thought about homeschooling; everybody (by which I mean mamas my age, with the exception of elementary-school teachers) thinks it’s a great idea; everybody admires my willingness to continue life with no income… but couldn’t do it themselves.

However. While other mamas at the park today were talking about their kids’ activities, I realized their kids are mostly GZ’s age and younger. And their kids are learning and doing and going to programs… and GZ is doing exactly nothing.

It’s not exactly true that he’s getting NOTHING, of course.

He plays with cars; he chatters non-stop; he comes on our nature walks; he looks at the books and pictures of ants and plays with the math rods and teddy bear counters and bucket balance and split peas. He scribbles on a whiteboard – sometimes (I still can’t get him to paint or draw on ordinary paper). He listens to music. He takes swimming lessons. He is socialized within our family, and within his group of friends at shul, parks, etc. He absorbs a LOT of whatever is going on around him.

But I don’t do anything that is specifically HIS, and I want that to change, in a light, friendly, fun way, so that we get some one-on-one time together over the course of our “school” days.

Inspired by today’s park discussion of Montessori developmental activities, I’m thinking of implementing a version of The Home Teacher’s “Montessori Jar” activities, where we have a jar of developmentally-appropriate activities and pull one out at random when we want a 5-10 minute break from the day.

The activities would be quick, easy and fun, things like pouring water (which I might normally try to put a stop to under ordinary circumstances!).

I’d like to have TWO jars, actually, and I’m putting together two lists of activities that would be easy and fun for each kid at their own unique developmental stage. I will post here if and when this fun stuff actually comes about…!

* TOTALLY HONEST FULL DISCLOSURE: Because my decision to homeschool was, in part, due to not being satisfied with the Jewish school choices here in Toronto, and because we hope to make aliyah in 2 1/2 years, our homeschooling plan is to keep Naomi Rivka home until we move. At that point, she will be 8 years old and iy”h, we will find a community and a school where are comfortable sending (and where we can afford to send) … and then, I suppose, our homeschooling adventure will be over, because we will both need to work like crazy to get up to speed on life in Israel – and then find jobs to support ourselves. So are we also only in it for the short term? Maybe, but a million things can go wrong in the aliyah process… and as for homeschooling, I’m going to take it darn seriously while I’m here.


  1. I can certainly understand how you feel about calling "homeschooling" for children 3 or younger. I "homeschool" my 3 year old because she has several developmental delays and developmental disabilities. All of the activities we do focus on those delays. If I were to ignore them, they wouldn't get any better. So it may not be "homeschooling." But it is educational.. I don't really see the harm in that?

  2. Absolutely NO harm, only good. Early intervention in some cases can make all the difference in the world, so that's fantastic.
    And it doesn't matter what I call it.
    I was speaking more to the climate of our community and neighbourhood, where kids as young as 1-1/2 are shuttled daily to "school" as if they were meeting some crucial educational goals and not just standing around peeing, crying and occasionally playing with blocks.

  3. p.s. Added the paragraph of "TOTALLY HONEST FULL DISCLOSURE" at the bottom of this post.


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