Friday, April 26, 2013

Wet, muddy, & fun

   When watching my boys play outside this afternoon all I could think was "we're wet, we're muddy, we're happy!"  They were digging in the wet, muddy sand building dams and were becoming disastrously dirty.  I think it's part of the little boy code though and I try my best to go with the flow.  They were playing together, listening to one another and they were having a ball.  I heard constant laughter and giggles so I couldn't possibly complain.  I kicked them out of the house, once we got home from the library, and told them they were spending the afternoon outside.  Yes, my two youngest ones are in the Pj's (We declared it Pj day in our house when they refused to get dressed) and while I hate they haven't gotten dressed yet; dirty clothes are dirty clothes.  I couldn't help but marvel at how much fun they were having "discovering" sand, rocks, mud and sticks.  They rubbed mud all over their boots, hands, and feet.  They sat, laid and rolled around in the sand.  They jumped off rocks, off the dock and into mud puddles listening to the splat sounds.  They walked up and down the shoreline looking for interesting rocks, sticks, and creatures.  They used shovels, Ian's remote control boat, an old hockey stick, and trucks to build ponds, "fires," and dams.  I have no idea what they are learning, but I know they must be since this playing kept them engaged for hours.   I do know that they are supremely happy, secure, and loved.   They took turns on the swing, had screaming contests, and ran around like wild animals.  Sometimes those squeals, yells and shouts of happiness can go right through me and drive me nuts but today they mostly made me smile.  It's nice to see the boys so carefree. 

   While they were playing, I sat outside on the dock watching and listening to them while reading my new book called Better Late Than Early; A new approach to your child's education.  Now, it's really not that "new" since it was published in 1975 and for the most part it talks about the pitfalls of our society sending our kids to school at younger and younger ages to teach them academics.  The saddest part was that as I read this book I couldn't help thinking it had actually gotten worse since this book was written.  Did you know that in most states the starting age of school for most children used to be 8?  I didn't!  It was based on scientific research that the normal child's brain isn't ready for learning programs until age 8 or 10; if then.  That's the age range when children's vision, hearing, social emotional development and, for lack of a better term, self- control are developed enough to allow them to learn well without too many issues.  It's argued that until age 8, children are better off at home as long as they have at least one loving caregiver around.  Children who entered school at 8 often caught up with (and more often than not passed) their peers, who may have started school as early as age 5, within weeks or months of starting school.  Sounds very familiar doesn't it?  It's the same thing they're finding with most reports and studies of homeschooling.  This book is NOT about homeschooling and mentioned nothing about keeping kids at home much past age 10 but I found it interesting that it is a sense supporting homeschooling (at least for the younger grades).   "Parents provide the best social and emotional growth a child can have.  Parents constantly teach by precept and example."  Of course, the authors of the book realize this isn't possible for all families and all children but it is the ideal they push for our society to use.  More family time; less structured school/ academics.  It's kind of what I'm pushing for now with my kids and as I read through this book I couldn't help thinking that I wished I had read it sooner.  My kids had WONDERFUL preschool teachers that I loved (and they loved) and they made so many friends that we're still in touch with today, but I still couldn't help agreeing with most of what I read and looking back on it seeing how it might have been more beneficial (especially for Ian) to have kept them at home with me.  I like to think I'm making it up to them now.  I certainly see them blossoming and growing more secure with each passing day. 

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