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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

4K discussion reveals disturbing trend

4-K, Education, Elmbrook, Family, Homeschooling

I know many parents of 4 year olds and preschoolers are upset that the Elmbrook School District failed to implement a permanent 4K program. I do believe the parents who communicated with the board were sincere in their enthusiasm for the program.

But there was a common thread to their comments that saddened me: many acted as if 4K was the only way their child could learn, achieve, mature, and flourish at this young age.

From Rose Moylan’s quote in the paper, "It [4K] stimulates and challenges (my son) in ways that I simply cannot do at home," to Katie, who spoke at the board meeting, They [4K teachers] can pull out an energy and excitement of learning [that I cannot], their attitude is that public school 4K is the only way this can be accomplished.

What a sad commentary on parenting today.

Since when have parents become so hesitant to nurture their own children? So insecure that they think they are not up to the task of teaching 4K skills at home?

I suppose this reluctance or feeling of inadequacy shouldn’t have surprised me. I heard it all the time in people’s voices when they found out I homeschooled my son K–12. Whether it was during the elementary years or high school years or even now that my son is in technical college, people’s reactions were and are always the same: I could never do that!

Some people I knew better than to try to persuade otherwise—their minds were made up. Others, I would encourage with, “Yes, you can--if you really want to.”

Parents are a child’s primary teacher. We teach them how to eat, talk, walk, use the bathroom, etc. But somehow, when it comes to schooling, some very intelligent parents suddenly feel ill-equipped.

HSLDA, Home School Legal Defense Association (naturally, a pro parents can be teachers stance) compiled some very interesting data that illustrates that anyone can teach their own children from a 1997 study.

Pay particular attention to the comparison between the mother’s educational levels and the basic battery test scores on page 2. The mother’s who did not even finish high school scored higher (83) than those who did graduate (80) and just one point away from the mother’s who had some higher education after High School! (84)

If you compare these test score averages to the public school sector on page 1, you see that even the drop out mom’s kids scored 33 points higher than the average public school students.

Another interesting graph shows the test score differences between homeschool parents who had teacher certification and those that did not. Surprisingly, the average scores were equal at the 4th grade level and 1 point higher in 8th grade if the parent had no educational certification!

Now this posting is not about the virtues of homeschooling vs. public education. There are many factors which contribute to those higher test scores of homeschooled students. Mainly that the child receives so much more one on one time and that the parent knows if the child is “getting it” or not. (When a child has to answer each and every question asked by the teacher, there is no faking it!)

Also, just by virtue of a child being at home and being part of the running of a household, there is much more life skills education taking place. Plus, homeschool families usually eat their meals together.*

Homeschooling parents tend to never turn off the teaching either. Everything is a teaching moment. (Many parents do this too, not just homeschoolers.)

I use this homeschool comparison information only to illustrate that if an uneducated parent can teach and guide their child to outperform the public school student, even in upper grades, certainly any parent can teach their child 4 year old kindergarten skills.

If a parent feels compelled to do a 4K program at home, there are a host of curriculum ideas, materials, and plans available. Rainbow Resource is one online source of all manner of materials. But please, don’t overload your children.

Personally, I do not think this is at all necessary. Just being with your child and involving them in your life: grocery shopping (colors, counting, sizes, etc.), meal preparation (measuring, counting, basic fractions, addition, subtraction), reading to your child (if they have a favorite book, point to the words as you read, when you come to a repetitive fun word, stop and let them say it—that is how my son learned to read), singing, art projects, nature study, pretend play (playing store is great—use real money!), going to the park or other special places, etc. Basically, you just take advantage of the teachable moments throughout the day--not in a tiresome, heavy handed way--make it fun.

PAMELAMUNCH left a comment regarding the importance of family time on my blog. Here is an excerpt:

I feel so many people want a 4k so they have some place to put their child for free (no tuition) so they can work. Why not promote less material gain and more importance on the value of our children at home with mom and family meals etc. I agree w/ LISAMCL and TESTOSTERONE that time with our families is our greatest gain.

Instead of your child telling you how they learned their left from their right hand, you teach it to them! (By the way, you can remind them that if they hold up their index finger, like they are pointing to the sky, and their thumb, out at a right angle, it forms the letter L if it is their left hand. Wish I would have known that when I was a kid!)

You are qualified to teach your own child. Don’t be afraid of it, be a part of it.

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*Coming up next: Family Time and Family Meals—more important than we think

If any of you are thinking of homeschooling your children and would like some information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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