Many home schooling parents do very little writing with their children at home. Yet they still go on to achieve the same as other children in their later years.
How does that happen?
Parents encourage learning through a variety of approaches and this keeps their children’s natural desire to learn alive.
The problem comes because the written word can be a barrier to learning for those who find reading and writing difficult. And we’re right to acknowledge that some do; that not all children are equal in these skills and if we want to provide an education suitable to each child’s needs, as the law states we should be doing, we need to recognise their learning preferences, their strengths and weaknesses.
Many children don’t take easily to writing when they’re young, boys in particular. It’s dull and uninteresting to them and can hamper their progress in school. But in a home educating environment this can be avoided.
One home educator didn’t do much formal writing until he was beginning his GCSEs. He had many other opportunities to learn through being shown, through practical or first-hand experience of a subject, through continual discussions and computer research. He read when he was ready to, yet still became an avid reader of non-fiction as well as novels. The parents didn’t feel that writing practice was necessary all the time, yet with guidance and a ‘tidy up’ of his writing skills he took his exams successfully and went on to gain a Masters.
Another young woman found reading laborious, difficult and dull and actually hated the activity. Writing was the same. Although loving books, stories and being read to, she would rather be outside, active or engaged with something different than the printed word. Being Dyslexic she didn’t read a whole book until 13, but in a home educating environment this didn’t matter. She still gained the skills needed to go to University and continues to achieve.
So I’d question whether it’s necessary to do so much writing so young as there’s a danger it can switch off children’s interest in learning.
Another important point here is that in a school environment these differences in the children’s preferences would be considered ‘difficulties’ and a problem, possibly eroding their motivation, self-esteem and confidence.
Through approaching their learning without too much emphasis on print the parents avoided that happening.
Much of what children write in school is more about providing evidence of what has been learnt, usually for the sake of others, than of value to the learner themselves. There are all sorts of valuable ways to learn (field trips for one) without print being involved, but some parents like to see evidence in lots of writing and filled books. This doesn’t prove kids have learnt anything.
In our technologically, image rich culture there are so many other facilities besides print. If youngsters want to know how to do something they go straight to YouTube! Films are among the varied, rich and effective ways to learn and understand, instantly accessible, without writing and reading.
Young children need experiences. Far better to give a child an experience of a subject that is real and involved than make them write about it. Firsthand experience of Weight for example is more meaningful to a child than filling in a worksheet about it.
I’m not saying that there is no need for reading and writing. I’m saying an obsession with it too young, or as the only learning approach, does more harm than good
I also wanted to illustrate how home schoolers’ different approaches, mostly experiential and practical, through conversation, observation and discussion, still provide successful educational outcomes without that heavy emphasis on print too soon.
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