I blog about this often but it’s just such a hot topic when you have little ones and particularly in my case, where I have a child who goes to school and one who stays at home.
Today, my 3 year old child recognised the country flags of Israel, Zimbabwe, the United States of America, China and the United Kingdom. Last week they studied the countries of the world and this week he came home with all the work they had done on this subject. I was astounded and so very proud – even if it was learning by rote! Now I don’t think that knowing foreign countries’ flags means anything (unless you want to be a champion Pictionary or 30 Seconds player) but I do think it’s something worth knowing, and I do believe it’s the start to learning about your world, and that there is life outside of your mom and dad and siblings. I am so happy with what Liam is learning at school and his own personal progress that I really want to put Hannah into school as soon as possible.
Before Hannah was born, and in my idealistic mind, it was my intention to keep Liam at home for as long as possible. I had read much literature which alluded to the fact that boys didn’t need any form of schooling until age three. I was happy for him to be home, away from all the nasty school germs, for as long as possible. Then Hannah came along and we were forced to enrol Liam in school – for everyone’s benefit because someone would have ultimately suffered… either Liam who would have been put in front of the TV for hours on end while Zoleka saw to Hannah. Or Hannah who would be left to cry while Zoleka saw to Liam. Or Zoleka would just simply burn out from caring for a new born and a one year old. So when Liam turned 18 months and I was getting ready to go back to work after maternity leave, he started school. The first school we enrolled him in was a complete disaster. It was more of a child care facility and Liam was receiving very little stimulation and was not happy to be there. Again, if I had a choice, I would have pulled him from the schooling system there and then, but because I didn’t have a choice, we looked for a better school. And THAT was the best thing I could have done for him. He has flourished, grown in leaps and bounds and has developed at such an alarming rate, that I sometimes forget he has just only turned three. I mean the flags of the world, really?!!
This brings me to Hannah, I can see that she is a different child because she hasn’t been exposed to school. I do not deny that I am to blame here. I have no time or inclination to teach Hannah how to colour correctly, how to hold a pencil, how to learn the days of the week, or the months of the year or her colours. I do try to incorporate learning as much as I can into our day to day activities by identifying colours or counting as we climb the stairs but I can’t exactly say her brain is being as stimulated as Liam’s is during the day. In fact, Liam is the only person who is really interested in helping Hannah learn anything worthwhile, because he likes to “play school” and he is the teacher and Hannah is the pupil. Hoping that this will pay off. Ha. But just in being exposed to other children, and being exposed to structured learning from a young age, I can see what a difference this has made in Liam. And I do not think that this sets him above children who do not go to school, I just think that his mind and body are being exercised in a way that I, personally, would not be able to manage if he was a child who stayed home with a helper. Hannah’s speech is delayed and mentally she is nowhere near where Liam was at her age. AND I don’t mean from an intelligence level, because I am most certainly not comparing the two; every child is different, I mean from just being exposed to school and having a teacher to physically teach you things. You can’t deny the value in having someone sit with you for 8 hours actually learning through play, right? And for this simple reason, I want Hannah to go to school too. I want her to be exposed. That’s all. I don’t care if she doesn’t know the flags of the world, I don’t care if she calls the colour blue, pink, until she is 5 years old. But I just want her to be in that environment where her little mind and body are given the full opportunity to learn and grasp and discover and be amazed. And I know it may make no difference in the long run, I myself only went to school at age 4, but I want to give her that opportunity at least.
So I’m hoping to have her in school by the end of the year, once we have settled down in our new house and the kids are over the disruption that a new house brings. It will also be warmer so getting up in the mornings will be less traumatising. In the mean time, I will continue to be amazed at what Liam is learning every day… the other day he came home and explained what “technology” is. For real. He said “it’s computers and email and stuff”. Yeh, that’s right. Boy genius, I tell you.