Have you ever passed a woman and her daughters in the store who were wearing denim skirts with their hair pulled back and immediately thought, “home schoolers”? Sadly, I admit I have.
Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in a very small Christian school so I’ve had my fair share of ankle length skirts and below the knee culottes and tights and long hair and denim jumpers (yes, that’s right, they were “in”). In high school most of the girls shopped for and wore men’s shorts because women’s were never long enough. I know what it’s like to freeze in the winter because “women can’t wear pants” or swim fully clothed in a dark t-shirt and knee length dark shorts or play ball in a dress (you try kicking the ball and running around the bases all while masterfully keeping your skirt from flying up to your face…it’s tough!!) or to be looked at in the store like you must not have a clue what you’re wearing because it is freakish.
Still, the unknown world of home schoolers seemed odd to me. That is, until I actually became friends with people who home school. You’ll never guess what I discovered…they are just regular people. That’s right. Astonishing isn’t it. If anything, they are amazingly wonderful people. Not only do they work and take care of their house and cook and grocery shop and read and run and all the things everyone else does on a daily basis – they also make time to educate their children. Amazing!
I’m sure there are some people who home school that are a bit off their rocker. But, there are people like this everywhere, not just in the home schooling world. Haven’t you ever met a weird Christian? A weird musician? A weird junior high student? Weirdness is everywhere – it’s what makes us human and we should embrace and celebrate each others weirdnesses.
There are SOOOO many benefits to home schooling – vacation at will, if you need to move math from 2 pm to 5 pm go right ahead and do it, learning environment tailored to the needs of each child, etc. etc. etc. I’m not saying home schooling is for everyone – in fact, it definitely is not for everyone – I’m just saying I’ve learned not to be so quick to judge what other families decide is best for them.
I’ve also decided to start doing some home “schooling” with Mikayla. I’m not sure how much you can classify as “school” at two years old. But we have started learning letters and numbers and colors and such. Really, it’s more about being purposeful and intentional with the way we play and interact having a learning goal in mind.
Over the past few weeks she has taken some HUGE steps developmentally speaking. She is recognizing and retaining and repeating things that have surprised us. Her vocabulary has just exploded. Her motor skills are improving.
These are things we were told would not happen. Many children with Williams do not even speak until they are 4 or 5. She should not be able to recognize the letter “A”. She should not be able to respond to questions or commands we give her. She should not know that she’s two years old or the motions to “I’m a Little Teapot.” At least not yet. She shouldn’t be doing these things yet. But she is.
I don’t know how long this developmental growth spurt will last. I don’t know if in three weeks she’ll be able to do the things she’s doing now. I don’t know what the future holds. What I do know is that as her parents we feel a sense of responsibility to encourage and further this growth as much as possible.
So, I’ve searched through preschool curriculums. I’ve talked with her teachers and therapists at Siskin to get their recommendations on what she should be learning next. And, I’ve written some learning goals for the next six months. We’ve got flash cards and finger paint and books to read and songs to sing and field trips already planned to the zoo and aquarium (told you home schooling had benefits).
Today, if you show her the letter “A” she knows what it is. She also knows it stands for “apple”. She knows what about six different animals “say”. She understands commands – that doesn’t mean she always follows through, she is a two year old after all. She does still think a circle is a ball, but we’re working on that.