My children are intelligent. The biggest learning disability we struggle with around here is the wiggles. I’ve been blessed – I don’t fight to teach them things. (Okay, I’m failing in teaching them to consistently clean up after themselves and to shut the basement door until it latches. But… little things.) I have, as a result, always pushed my children to learn at the level where they are capable. After a few kids, I started skipping the Kindergarten math (Saxon) book and jumped into the 1st grade book in Kindergarten. They are all a year ahead in spelling, because I think the books we use (Rod and Staff) are below grade level. I typically start them in Kindergarten at age four and a half because they are itching to learn and… why not?
I have decided I am a glutton for punishment.
- Liberty’s right on schedule except for a grade ahead in spelling. She’s my first, my guinea pig. I didn’t think to start her early. That’s a blessing, I think.
- Eden’s an entire grade ahead from where she ought to be in public school, two grades ahead in spelling.
- Sterling’s a grade ahead in math and spelling.
- Ruby’s an entire grade ahead teachnically because she misses the cutoff by mere days, two grades ahead in English and spelling.
- Charlotte also misses the cutoff by a month, so technically she’s two grades ahead in math, English, Phonics and Reading.
This year, Charlie is four, five at the end of September. She is doing Saxon 1 Math, Alpha and Omega’s Horizons 1 Phonics and Reading, (Review to follow in a few weeks!) and I bought Rod and Staff 2 Spelling for her – but didn’t start it because, while she’s capable, I was starting to see the error of my ways. She’s finishing a Spelling You See level A book Ruby worked on for a review but didn’t finish instead, joyfully and without struggle.
Something occurred to me this week, when, nearly finished with her Phonics and Reading for the day, she started to sob. Not because she was incapable, not because she was struggling academically – she started crying because she was overwhelmed, five pages for the day in. I looked at my dear daughter and couldn’t help but wonder – am I exasperating my children? They learn well. They are not geniuses, although it wouldn’t surprise me if they have IQ’s up there with their father’s, but they are entirely capable. But. Am I making life more difficult than it has to be, when they are academically capable but perhaps not mature enough to handle the load?
I’m still struggling with this. I’m not sure what the future holds. You see kids going to college at twelve, and while we’re certainly not headed for that, what’s the point? To live life in a condensed version, to skip through childhood as quickly as possible, to get on with… work? Adulthood? I’ve always said that, despite being ahead, my children do not need to go to college young. I graduated a year and a half early and went to college at 17, and while it was not all bad, the experience left me spinning for what the world was outside of the bubble I’d grown up in, homeschooled in the country near a tiny town in South Dakota. I got married at eighteen, and while I’m entirely glad I did and would choose that again in a heartbeat, that’s not necessarily the plan God has for my daughters, my sons. I want them to be prepared not just academically, but emotionally and spiritually. I do not want to exasperate my children, to teach them so rigorously that they lose their childhood in the pursuit of finishing school years ahead and lose their hearts in the process.
(For anyone interested, I created a tab at the top of our curriculum choices a while back. You can read a detailed list what we use for our homeschooling there.)