Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Schooling For All Ages

I have mentioned before, that one of the things I love best about home schooling is that it is not age specific. Although I went to a traditional school before I was home schooled, I still experienced the benefits of a multi-age education.

The school I attended was a very small private one, and there were always multiple grades in one classroom. I remember specifically when I made it into the "upper" grade classroom, with Mr. Walker. He taught 4th through 8th. And he was the school principal. Maybe that was how he managed to teach all those grades in one room without any problems.
Because really, I don't remember it being a problem. When the 7th graders were doing math, the rest of us worked on our phonics, or spelling, science or whatever classwork we had been assigned. We went over it at the beginning of the day, and it was written on the board. When it was our grade's turn for English, we all looked to the front and Mr. Walker taught us.
It taught us how to be flexible, self sufficient and well behaved.
Because we had to be.

I also really liked being with the older kids. I admired them and would listen to their lessons sometimes. When we needed help, the big kids would help us. And we little ones couldn't wait to be a big kid ourselves so we could be helpers, too.
Now people cringe at the thought of their 1st graders being around 8th graders. But that is a whole different blog and one I probably won't write. I'd rather focus on the fact that it can be and is good for the little kids to be with the big kids.

Look at Lilly.
See her there, nestled between 2 of the bigger girls? She is not yet 2, but there she sits, listening to the naturalist at the ENC. She didn't want to run off and be a "typical" toddler. She wanted to be a big girl. Because that is the example set before her. (although, I freely admit, she does act very much a toddler at other times. This group seems to bring out the best in her!)

As we took part in the rest of the program, she gladly, eagerly, adamantly took part.
Putting up pieces of the 4 seasons like this gold leaf?
She was all over it.
Looking at snake skin with magnifying glasses?
If the big kids were doing it, well then, so was she.
How many fingers to touch a snake? 2.
She still remembers that.
She touched it too, I just missed the shot.
And when it came time to touch the frog, she held up 2 fingers again.
We include our little ones with the big ones at home. We sit them at the table with us, we teach them how to use a fork and spoon. And they are so anxious to be included. They want more than anything to be like their big brothers and sisters. If they are like Lilly, they actually get quite angry when you won't let them.
We hear a lot of this, "ME TOOOOOOOOO!" around our house.
I am grateful for the chance to extend this beyond our day to day living to our learning too. The littles learn so much from the bigs. It is good to let them spread their wings.


j e n n i f e r said...

oh, how lovely. fun to see those enc pics too. i was actually just thinking about this today with ezra. even though he is yet to be one... he is observing all this gloriousness. he had the best day today (we missed you by the way) at the fullerton arboretum. and i walked away feeling so blessed to be a part of this group and so happy for my boys.

Betsi said...

Can I be you when I grow up? Loves, Betsi*

Mommy of three said...

Jennifer, he'll be running around picking up bugs before you know it!

Besti, I do believe you run a pretty rockin pre school yourself. I am sure I could learn a lot from you.
But thanks for saying such nice things.
It makes me glow.