Monday, March 16, 2009

I want her to dream

As a child, I learned best not in a crowded classroom, where lessons were constantly disrupted by someone asking questions about something I understood long ago, but through reading and self-study. I was a book worm. At the beginning of each school year, I devoured all my new books, and there was no power on earth that could pull me off. During summer vacations, I ran to the library to exchange books every day, and the librarians looked at me incredulously. They couldn't believe I read so fast.

I was a shy child, constantly teased, and cannot say that being locked up with many other children for extended periods of time every day did me much good. I'm the type of child for whom, I believe, homeschooling would have been the best option. At least until I was over the age when children are often so cruel to one another when collected in large groups. For me, life began when I was out of the school gates, alone or with one or two good friends. I wasn't enrolled in too many after school activities, and this gave me quiet, leisurely time which is so important for the development of an independent mind.

I'm not sure whether Shira's personality will be anything like mine, but in case it is, I want her to have all the freedom in the world to read good books, to dream, to create, to watch the miniature, slow deatails of life, build imaginary worlds, and just stare into space - an activity which is seen as a terrible waste of time, when the child could be hurrying off to a ballet class, piano lesson, or basketball practice. But children need their own pace.

Today, people start suffering from burntout earlier and earlier. Those who don't feel capable of running the race, especially children, may sink into feelings of inadequacy and depression. Some children are very vibrant, very active, and love the school environment, or otherwise require constant stimulation. I loved the quiet.

Every morning, I stare into a pair of curious little eyes, open wide. Children are natural observers and learners. Yet I have met children, as young as 8 or 9, whose natural curiousity was stifled by an over-active presentation of grades, exams, and dry schoolbook facts. At an age when I explored my surroundings, climbed trees and rocks, and wrote my first fiction stories, they are content to idly sit and watch television or play computer games all day long.

I look forward to the opportunity, together with my little girl, to watch the world through child's eyes, and discover the many wonders I am perhaps oblivious to. To learn and grow together. I know it will be so much fun.


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I am another person who reada nd leaves anonymous comments-I guess for times sake......anyhow0 I once saw your photo of your Charlotte Mason sereis and this post very much reminds me of Charlotte't thinking of chidlrne having much time outdoors,e tc.
I just wanted to tell you there is a website(in case you already didint' know)called Ambleside ONline which has a free complete curriculum with booklists,weekly goals, etc.Of ocurse oyu ahve to buy the books.ALso they have a Yahoo groups to help you understand her teaching philosophies adn there is one of Year 0-that is childrne under 6 which focuses alot on outdoor time, crafts, etc.
I have been learning alot from these lists:)
God Bless You!

Anonymous said...

As someone who went to a boarding school at age 13, I am used to having to defend an unorthodox educational choice.

These things really do depend on the child. Boarding school was absolutely the right choice for me, but not every teenager would thrive in that environment. The same goes for homeschooling.

I think these also depend on the school and/or the parent. Some schools are great, others not so much. Some parents are great and enjoy at teaching their kids at home, others not so much.

-- Pendragon

Persuaded said...

will you be able to homeschool in your part of the world? i know some countries are less understanding of the desire for a family to do this...

and i just want to say, my dear, that you are one of the most precious-hearted mamas i have ever had the joy to be acquainted with♥

Dragon Petals said...

You just described myself as a child - and I too wish I had been home schooled. I honestly got more out of self-education than my school education.

jAne said...

From me wayyyy over here you're hearing a resounding YESSS!!!!

Home education would have been of great benefit to me as well. I see that clearly now. We homeschooled our daughter through high school and oh what a blessing (and honor). We were able to form an academic plan that complimented how she learned best. Much of the time learning was spent out of doors. She has grown into a lovely young woman - who still loves the out of doors. :o)

You're right on track, Anna.


The Whites said...

Yeah for Charlotte Mason!

We are expecting our first in about 7 weeks... and I'm SOOOOO excited to start educating her & learning with her! I can't wait! I was homeschooled (and spent a few years in private school & public school) and I absolutely loved it, and I can definitely say that it is the reason I still love learning & researching today.

Mrs. Anna T said...


There is a small homeschooling community in Israel, but it's a very uncommon choice, and one needs many permits. However, the laws regarding this are rapidly evolving, and we'll see what happens when Shira reaches compulsory education age.

Walters Inc said...

Good Morning Anna,
I must say you are on the right track here! I was home schooled from 2nd grade on and it was a wonderful fit for me. There are so many people that will support you too..... just look at the links you are being given already.
Take care of yourself and wee Shira :)

Everybody's Mama said...

This post echoes my own feelings. I grew up in much the same way, a bookworm, teased, even ridiculed. I would have adored homeschooling! Not as an escape, mind you, but as an opportunity to become the person God wanted me to be without having to battle my way through peer pressure and other people's expectations of me. This post represents exactly the way I wish for my children to learn as they grow up. In a relaxed, joyful manner being given plenty of time to be child.

Sammy said...

I am an elementary school teacher and I have to say that you present a very narrow, inaccurate picture of classrooms. Yes, some classrooms are devoid of experiential learning, but many are not. I do not understand why those who are trying to promote homeschooling must make such dramatic generalizations about classrooms. I think homeschooling is wonderful and the best option for some children. However, others thrive in a classroom environment and many classrooms are wonderful, exciting, supportive, and engaging places for a child to spend the day.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Sammy, ever been to a typical Israeli elementary school classroom? I switched between several schools, because we moved often in our early years in Israel, and I tell what I saw. That's how things were, at least for me.

Rosemary said...

Happy Belated Anniversary!

Anna, I come here each day because I know that I will find thoughts, very similar to my own, which are beautifully written. I don't have a writer's way with words myself.

You are right to take precautions with your privacy, and I respect that.

Enjoy your little family.

Dessi said...

Hi, i love this post ell all of your posts. I know what you mean little kids eyes are full of wonder and the desire to learn...sad to say by the time they hit 3 grade in a classroom that inital wonder and fire for life in their eyses is gone. Teachers and the today's educational system is a shame and disgrace to what education was and was ment to be!!! God bless you and your family!!!

Anonymous said...

"I look forward to the opportunity, together with my little girl, to watch the world through child's eyes, and discover the many wonders I am perhaps oblivious to. To learn and grow together. I know it will be so much fun."

Oh yes I agree, to see things in an un-hurried and new way is one of the best things about spending time with small children, - how exciting!

Enjoy every moment of it.

Tracy said...

Such a lovely post! I would have loved to have been homeschooled, but I am thankful that I am able to now homeschool my own children. :)

Anonymous said...

Good luck on your journey.
I had some good years at school and some not so good ones. I also was an avid reader and probably learned as much at home as at school.
However, even during the years when I despised school, I never would have wished to stay home. I loved my parents, but would not have wanted to be around them 24/7. In fact, my father did teach us at home, subjects which were near and dear to his heart, and it built up resentment. I resented having to sit and learn with him, and promised myself I would never force my own kids. Let them resent their teachers and not me (of course, now I reap the rewards of the knowledge he imparted, but even so, it was not worth the bad feelings).

What I'm trying to say is that I think it's very, very difficult to homeschool. OK, it's easy to 'freeschool' and let your kids absorb their surroundings, and learn things by observation. But algebra is not learned by observation, or Greek philosophy, or English lit, or most anything that requires highly developed abstract thinking. I'm sure the odd child will develop an interest in these and ask to be taught, but most will need to be sat down at some point if they're ever going to learn it. I have enough trouble getting my kids to sit down to do their homework. I certainly don't want to be the one forcing them to sit and learn several hours a day.

I know, many will reply that children don't need to be 'forced'. And it's true that there are some inspiring teachers out there, with whom it becomes a pleasure to sit and learn (they are rare, and can usually only teach one topic they love). I have no illusions that I am one of those who will be so inspiring my kids will just yearn to study, and I will not need to nag all day.

In reality, most higher learning for most kids is just hard work, be it at home or at school. It's hard enough to parent, I couldn't take that on my plate too.

Anonymous said...

Writing as ever the pragmatist, be sure to keep up-to-date with large bodies of knowledge, and maintain your family's health! The little explorers (when they become more ambulatory) will need someone to guide them through the thickets! But, modern libraries (as opposed to those from 20-30 years ago) have so many colorful childrens' books, so it's a joy to learn right along with the child.

If someone has experience with speaking different languages, this would be the ideal time to check books out in those languages, as well.

With helping to guide my small son, I received an outstanding self-education (having to explain concepts in detail to a curious child is an exploratory process in and of itself) about dinosaurs, as well as astronomy, and many other wonderful what-ifs. I daresay,the process of education works well both ways! I only wish that I'd been able to enroll him in college courses when he developed intense interests in subjects I was not prepared to discuss. But, having unabridged references in the home did help thee matter.

Gombojav Tribe said...

There is something very important and invaluable about an unhurried childhood!

Anonymous said...

Anna, I'm sure you'll be a wonderful teacher to Shira :) I'm sorry you had such a bad experience of school, I hope that there are more teachers who gave me my happy school days than the kind who allow bullying and teasing to go unchecked. For every wonedrful homeschooling parent there are ten or twenty who don't want to put that level of effort in and would rather let a child watch five hours of TV a day than spend htat time interacting with them. Good, inspiring teachers are the only hope for those families.

Rose said...

Anna, I taught high school for 25 years and would once have defended the very system about which I had reservations. So much time is wasted in schools with rules and organisation leave alone how kids behave towards each other. True it's not all bad but there is a tremendous amount of wasted time and energy.

I only came to know about home schooling through reading blogs. I have much more sympathy and support for it now than in earlier times. There is a great deal of good stuff happening out there.

Anonymous said...

"Sammy, ever been to a typical Israeli elementary school classroom? I switched between several schools, because we moved often in our early years in Israel, and I tell what I saw. That's how things were, at least for me."

Perhaps it wasn't the fact the public schools you went to was so bad but the fact that you switched between several different schools throughout your education. From my experience, that is the absolute worst way to go to school because you are constantly trying to find your footing in a new environment. It creates isolation, emotional and academic, since you are always an outsider having to adapt to a new school culture and new teaching methods.

I was public schooled up through high school, then went to a private university. I did not have the bad experience that you had. There are bad schools out there, but also good ones. I don't think homeschooling is good or bad, because it works for some and not for others, but I don't think it's fair to paint the entire public educational system with one brush when there are many students who flourish within the system.


Civilla said...

I tried to post this before, but I don't think it went through, so I'll try again.

I'm glad that we have choices for our children, because all children and families and circumstances are unique. We can do public, private or homeschool. I'm glad that you can do that where you are, too, Anna.

Our children went to public school, which was the best choice for our family (I like private/Christian schools, but there are none within a 50 mile radius of our house). My children learned in public school, and I was grateful for what their teachers did for them -- teaching them what I could not, like algebra and geometry, and doing extra things like marching band/chorus, plays and concerts, all-state chorus to which my boys went, and oral interpretation, and sports. They were well rounded because of all of these things. Their teachers really went above and beyond the call of duty and were not well-paid (at least not in our state). You should have seen the wonder in my boys' eyes at being able to sing in a 1,000 voice choir at all-state chorus, with an all-student orchestra! I'm glad we made that choice, but I'm glad that others have the choices that they have.

The Author said...

I follow your blog, and was thrilled to find an older young woman who had alot of my same values and religion(though I am not orthodox). I fully agree with this post, and it reminded me that I should be spending my time so much more productively. Even though where we live does not have land, at least the kind of land you can roam about, because it's infested with poison ivy, I do agree that much of a child's education should consist of the observation of nature. My prayer is that HaShem will provide me with a farmland when I marry.Anyway, shalom, and many blessings.

Gothelittle Rose said...

I was treated so badly in public school that I withdrew to the point that my parents wondered if I was autistic. One of my brothers, however, did just fine during his public school years. I was absolutely a good candidate for homeschooling... it kept me from becoming completely shut in.

My son is being homeschooled right now because of learning problems when he's among other kids. We're having him professionally evaluated to make sure he doesn't have a mild form of Aspergers. We know for sure that he's got something that is or mimics ADHD.

In response to Sammy, many who promote homeschooling are not making dramatic generalizations about classrooms. They are relating their own experiences or their children's experiences with the classrooms in their area. It's just that so many of them have had such similar experiences. I think it's likely that people living near public schools that actually promote a love for learning and allow children to reach their full potential generally aren't as likely to homeschool.

My district is pretty dreadful, and "coincidentally" the local homeschool group is pretty large. Almost anybody who hears I'm homeschooling immediately can name off at least one, usually up to three families they know who are doing it too.

Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

I begged to be homeschooled for years! As a child I was much like you, a quiet bookworm and a bit of a dreamer, public school was a terrible fit for me and I am just now at 24 years old recovering from its ill effects which stifled my interest in learning. I am ecstatic at the thought of teaching my son. I am already enthralled by watching him learn little things like how to give high fives, kiss me on the cheek, and pet the kitten gently. It's a wonderful thing to watch a child learn and know that you are helping guide them in that process!

Natasha Haggard said...

Ugh that school was a nightmare.
The school I went to in the States was a nightmare too. I wish I had the option of being home-schooled.

cmoursler said...

Hi Anna, I think alot of people had similar experiences. Kids who are more inward looking, and a bit bookish, or kids who have big imaginations and a large inner world tend to not fit in with kids who thrive in a public school setting. My oldest daughter was introverted, bookish and had a huge imagination. She was very sensitive to hurt in both animals and people. My youngest is very attuned to social situations. I homeschooled both. I am continuing with my youngest who is in 2nd grade. My oldest is now in High school and is beyond that awkward stage. (Plus it is an extremely rigorous academic curriculum with no time for 3 percent in the country). She recieves A's and has her circle of friends. I would recommend homescooling with modification for the personality of each child to just about anyone willing to put the time and effort into learning along with their child. My youngest needs more social interaction, so I provide a once weekly enrichment course ( which is an 8 hour day replete with art, music and friends). And she is in scouts and does service projects along with Sunday school activities. Homeschooling is wonderful. The reason Homeschoolers sometimes overstate the ill effects of public schools is because we often feel looked down on by public school teachers, even though homeschoolers test higher on BOTH an academic and social level than publicly schooled peers. We are tired of the constant drive to limit our freedom of choice, and the choice of other parents who aren't able to homeschool, but would love to be able to choose a school that would properly educate their children. The poor end up getting the short end of the stick constantly, while people tell them to just "wait until we can sort this out". Meanwhile, These kids' chance for a decent education is going down the drain. Sorry, off the soapbox now. Homeschooling rocks. lol.

Mrs. Anna T said...


I did't necessarily mean homeschooling throughout full 12 years. Parents who feel they aren't coping anymore can send their child to school at a later age (I'll have to research how this is done in Israel). But surely almost everyone - provided they have will, time and patience - can teach their child to read, write and do sums. Anyone can draw together with their child. Anyone can take their child outside and learn about various plants and animals. And almost anyone can teach their child valuable skills such as cooking, sewing, knitting, embroidery, etc.

To sum it up, I believe any intelligent parent, even without a degree, can easily homeschool throughout elementary school at least. Algebra, geometry and such I didn't learn until the 8-th grade.


Wasn't it the same school I went to once? It was so horrible.

jAne said...

Nithya wrote: ***For every wonedrful homeschooling parent there are ten or twenty who don't want to put that level of effort in and would rather let a child watch five hours of TV a day than spend htat time interacting with them. Good, inspiring teachers are the only hope for those families.***

I would LOVE to know your source for such assumptions. I doubt there are any, other than your seemingly impulsive and rather ignorant opinion based on ... what?

P.A. said...

Great blog.
I think mothers are the best teachers in world.

It's a great bonding experience such as teaching to play the piano between a mother and her child.