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Anyone feel as though the WTM shortchanges 4-and-5-year-olds?


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I'm reading the WTM for the first time and the 4-and-5-year old section has me scratching my head. Yeah, my DD is wiggling, but she's totally capable of formal studies.

 

I don't feel as though DD is really an accelerated learner, so I'm confused. Isn't the WTM simply shortchanging the capabilities of this age set? :001_huh:

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No... mainly because most children in that age benefit more from play-based learning and an enriched environment (read alouds/books on tape), than from formal studies.

 

A lack of formal "structured" learning, does not mean there is NO learning, it just takes place in a different context. Books on tape (and read alouds) help build vocabulary and a sense of language. Music helps build brain connections... coloring and play doh builds fine motor skills that will be necessary for writing. These are foundations for more advanced learning.

 

Children develop at different paces (and may be advanced in one area and normal or behind in another).

 

I do think many curriculums for this age-group are "dumbed down" (especially science and history). I would rather focus on audio-books, picture books and real life investigations at this age than what passes for Pre-K and K-level in most curricula.

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Right, but haven't most children this age played with Play-Doh and colored enough that they would be ready to start formal handwriting lessons?

 

I understand play-based learning, but why not just use curriculum that is more fun and play-like in nature?

 

 

No... mainly because most children in that age benefit more from play-based learning and an enriched environment (read alouds/books on tape), than from formal studies.

 

A lack of formal "structured" learning, does not mean there is NO learning, it just takes place in a different context. Books on tape (and read alouds) help build vocabulary and a sense of language. Music helps build brain connections... coloring and play doh builds fine motor skills that will be necessary for writing. These are foundations for more advanced learning.

 

Children develop at different paces (and may be advanced in one area and normal or behind in another).

 

I do think many curriculums for this age-group are "dumbed down" (especially science and history). I would rather focus on audio-books, picture books and real life investigations at this age than what passes for Pre-K and K-level in most curricula.

Edited by pitterpatter
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I get that feeling looking at any preschool or K curriculum/recommendations.

 

Are there really K-age kids who have never colored or used Play-Doh? Do we really need to be told to do those things? Why not just say some K-ers are not ready for handwriting; if yours isn't, keep coloring and don't worry about it?

 

But I do actually realize that, sad as it is, there are 5yos who have never colored. There are some seriously disadvantaged kids out there, and on their first day of K at the local PS, they would be thrilled to color. They are nowhere near being ready to write anything. The PS curriculum needs to accommodate them.

 

I don't think most homeschoolers need to "start from scratch" like that. What are the chances a toddler in a homeschooling family would absorb nothing? What are the chances he would never "write" like his mom, dad, and siblings? What are the chances her mom never reads her an ABC book or counts the stairs outside? Maybe most 5yos do need to spend more time coloring, but the recommendation sounds silly. At least give me some ways to direct the coloring, readiness signs, or something, because she's been "just coloring" since she was 18mo.

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I haven't read the book, but I too get the feeling on these boards that the philosophy tends away from challenging the preschool/KG child academically. While all kids are different, I do think the "gift of time" creates problems for some children. For example, my eldest has visual issues and really needs to be challenged to practice those skills that come naturally "with time" for many kids. She does rise to the occasion when challenged to try. For her, the "gift of time" would merely increase the likelihood that she'd fall behind her age peers.

 

Academic focus hasn't hurt either of my kids, but I acknowledge that 4 is too early for some kids. I think parents need to be the ones to decide when it's the right fit, and they need to be light-hearted about it. My youngest was an early reader, but "instruction" was a moment here, a moment there, up until she was reading books around age 4. I never really sat her down to study until she was 4.5, and then only for maybe 5-10 minutes at a time. But for a child who is ready to read/calculate, there is no point holding back the needed information. Might as well not speak to a child who is ready to talk.

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Right, DD has been holding a pencil, crayon, whatever correctly and using it to scribble, draw, color since she was one year and so many months. Don't remember exactly. So, I cringe when curriculum calls for coloring a picture. Not sure what that really teaches.

 

I understand that some children are sorely under-prepared for public kindergarten, but the parents of those children probably aren't spending $30 on the WTM.

 

Overall, I feel as though the WTM encourages a more advanced method of schooling, so the 4-and-5-year-old section really disappoints me.

 

 

I get that feeling looking at any preschool or K curriculum/recommendations.

 

Are there really K-age kids who have never colored or used Play-Doh? Do we really need to be told to do those things? Why not just say some K-ers are not ready for handwriting; if yours isn't, keep coloring and don't worry about it?

 

But I do actually realize that, sad as it is, there are 5yos who have never colored. There are some seriously disadvantaged kids out there, and on their first day of K at the local PS, they would be thrilled to color. They are nowhere near being ready to write anything. The PS curriculum needs to accommodate them.

 

I don't think most homeschoolers need to "start from scratch" like that. What are the chances a toddler in a homeschooling family would absorb nothing? What are the chances he would never "write" like his mom, dad, and siblings? What are the chances her mom never reads her an ABC book or counts the stairs outside? Maybe most 5yos do need to spend more time coloring, but the recommendation sounds silly. At least give me some ways to direct the coloring, readiness signs, or something, because she's been "just coloring" since she was 18mo.

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Right, DD has been holding a pencil, crayon, whatever correctly and using it to scribble, draw, color, whatever since she was one year and whatever months. Don't remember exactly. So, I cringe when curriculum calls for coloring a picture. Not sure what that really teaches.

 

I understand that some children are sorely under-prepared for public kindergarten, but the parents of those children probably aren't spending $30 on the WTM.

 

Overall, I feel as though the WTM encourages a more advanced method of schooling, so the 4-and-5-year-old section really disappoints me.

Agree completely. Now having dd color a picture to reinforce something we've done at 4 is worthwhile imo because it's a visual reminder for her and she likes the output but I couldn't just say here color this picture kwim?

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Right, but haven't most children this age played with Play-Doh and colored enough that they would be ready to start formal handwriting lessons?

 

I understand play-based learning, but why not just use curriculum that is more fun and play-like in nature?

 

You are going to get varied opinions and answers. Some are going to feel strongly that pre-school and focused early academics is necessary and that kids that do not have that experience are at a disadvantage. Others believe that waiting until they are older is better and that they can easily master quickly what takes longer at younger ages.

 

I personally fall into the latter category. I don't believe in the necessity of pre-school. But, heh, I don't even believe in much beyond the 3 Rs when they are in primary grades. ;) It hasn't slowed my kids down any. :001_smile:

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With two now in high school, I can see the value in waiting to start my children on "formal studies" and let them soak in the world at the early ages. It really is surprising how much even my 8-year old learns in her "play" time. It is probably as much or more than she learns in her formal schooling.

 

You know your child. If he/she needs more challenge, definitely provide it. Each family has to find the balance of study and play that is needed for growth. For us, too much formal study early on has the potential of causing burn out later on when the formal study is crucial.

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My son went to 2 years of PS and was ready for 2nd grade math+ at the beginning of K with no formal academics ahead of time. He also had a bunch of science background and info. No he couldn't write (heck, we had to teach him to hold a pencil), and he was a reluctant reader (but jumped 5+ grade levels that year). But it the right environment, pre-Ks can learn a ton without formal academics. If your child clamors for structure and wants to do curriculum, then I think it's great. My kids would have pushed back hard at that age despite being testing way beyond grade level.

 

I find much structured grade level curriculum too boxed in for gifted kids in general and I don't use much of it. Both my kids were done with at least K and 1st grade without ever opening a curriculum. I'm more laid back now with my 2nd kid and she's still at least as academically accelerated as my first.

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Right. And, DD does that. She's a toy junky for sure. Our "formal" schooling seems a lot like playing, IMO. I seek out curriculum that is very hands-on and fun. The other day DD told me she liked school better than playing. I was taken back a bit. I knew she enjoyed it, but she REALLY likes her toys too. LOL!

 

I'm just trying to figure it all out. She's our first and only and I have no true basis for comparison. I was hoping for more guidance from the WTM.

 

 

Not at all. There's plenty enough time for schooling, what they need most then is play.
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I haven't read the book, but I too get the feeling on these boards that the philosophy tends away from challenging the preschool/KG child academically. While all kids are different, I do think the "gift of time" creates problems for some children. For example, my eldest has visual issues and really needs to be challenged to practice those skills that come naturally "with time" for many kids. She does rise to the occasion when challenged to try. For her, the "gift of time" would merely increase the likelihood that she'd fall behind her age peers.

 

Academic focus hasn't hurt either of my kids, but I acknowledge that 4 is too early for some kids. I think parents need to be the ones to decide when it's the right fit, and they need to be light-hearted about it. My youngest was an early reader, but "instruction" was a moment here, a moment there, up until she was reading books around age 4. I never really sat her down to study until she was 4.5, and then only for maybe 5-10 minutes at a time. But for a child who is ready to read/calculate, there is no point holding back the needed information. Might as well not speak to a child who is ready to talk.

 

I find that perspective quite interesting. B/c I read the forums differently. I see plenty of siggies of posters whose kids are 4 and 5 with longs lists of what they are doing. Same w/# of hrs/day that many of the posters are spending w/kids under the age of 7.

 

I guess it is all in the perspective. :D

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As I read the responses, I wonder whether formal education means different things to different people.

 

When I look at your siggie, I would classify that as formal education. My Ker doing about a total of 30-60 mins of seat work and then doing whatever she wants the rest of the day is my definition of minimal academics.

 

My younger kids do not use computers, video games, or watch tv (except a show late at night before bedtime.) So when they are entertaining themselves during the day, they are having to amuse themselves with their imagination and own inventions. My personal POV is that is better for cognitive development than academics.

 

Others have different opinions and POV. I am not suggesting mine is the right one. It is simply the right one for our family and one that proven quite successful in the long-term for our children.

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I look at TWTM more in terms of "stages" than "ages." So, if your dc has mastered the skills in the K section, move on to first. My ds is 6. We started school when he was 4 because he had already taught himself to read and he was asking for school. He is technically an old K'er, but I go to the 2nd grade section of WTM when I'm brainstorming ideas.

 

Now with my ds4, we work on coloring and play-doh. We do lots of read alouds, but he does not know the vast majority of his letters. I'm actually "behind" according to TWTM. I know my ds and I know that he is not ready for more than this yet.

 

You are the mom, you know best. If your dc has been holding a pencil correctly since she was one and is ready to learn to form some letters, then go for it. Move on to the next "stage" of TWTM.

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As I read the responses, I wonder whether formal education means different things to different people.

 

Oh yeah!! Definitely! :)

 

I agree with 8 that your siggie strikes me as formal ed. But if your child is happy then why not? I think it's possible to have the best of both worlds, especially with the flexibility having just one child gives you. For my guy, academics WAS play in most situations and when it didn't feel like play anymore we switched gears. He wasn't the sort of kid to color or draw or play with Legos, still doesn't. But he loved play-doh and making things from bits and pieces of paper or rubber bands or duct tape.

 

You look at your child and decide what's best to help that child thrive, even if it means starting WTM early or (sadly) veering far away from it as I had to.

Edited by quark
grammatical errors, sigh, I think I need WTM-style grammar lessons!
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I don't think most homeschoolers need to "start from scratch" like that. What are the chances a toddler in a homeschooling family would absorb nothing? What are the chances he would never "write" like his mom, dad, and siblings? What are the chances her mom never reads her an ABC book or counts the stairs outside? Maybe most 5yos do need to spend more time coloring, but the recommendation sounds silly. At least give me some ways to direct the coloring, readiness signs, or something, because she's been "just coloring" since she was 18mo.

 

I agree with you. I think play based learning is awesome and necessary in the early years but some kids are ready for more. Even Jessie Wise taught her kids to read early because they were simply ready.

 

My oldest daughter reached the age of 5 without knowing all her letter sounds. My youngest is turning 2 next week and already knows some of her letter sounds, all her colors, some shapes and has a much better grasp of language than the other two children did. I'm not thinking she's brilliant, I think she's just been exposed to a lot more than my oldest was because she is around me working with my older children. So, what is going to be appropriate for her at age 5 is going to look different than what was appropriate for my oldest child.

 

My DS is not ready for formal handwriting (just turning 4) but he is reading a bit already and very competent with K level math. So we'll do what he's ready for and not push the other things. It doesn't have to be all or nothing - you can choose what each kid is ready for and go from there. To suggest that all four year olds need to be in play dough and in the dirt all their waking hours and doing nothing "formal" is shortsighted, IMO. It just depends on the kid.

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My younger kids do not use computers, video games, or watch tv (except a show late at night before bedtime.) So when they are entertaining themselves during the day, they are having to amuse themselves with their imagination and own inventions. My personal POV is that is better for cognitive development than academics.

 

8FillTheHeart (and others who want to chip in), I would love to hear what are some of the activities your dc come up with, at that age level.

 

I've tried my best to supply lots of building toys (Duplo/Lego, train tracks, snap circuits) but ds does much better if we sit and play with him, both in terms of playing longer and happier. The one thing I do remember he likes to do by himself is put up his 'fort' with blankets on a bunk bed and bring various toys/books up there. I should be happy I guess, but the room looks like a hurricane disaster area (or is that par for the course? :tongue_smilie:)

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I'm reading the WTM for the first time and the 4-and-5-year old section has me scratching my head. Yeah, my DD is wiggling, but she's totally capable of formal studies.

 

I don't feel as though DD is really an accelerated learner, so I'm confused. Isn't the WTM simply shortchanging the capabilities of this age set? :001_huh:

 

Not at all.

 

For 4 and 5, you're supposed begin phonics instructions, read good books to them, teach them to form letters correctly and move onto copywork when they're ready, do beginning math, and there is a book recommended for kindergarten science experiments.

 

That, combined with play, is a wonderful program for 4 & 5 year olds.

 

Sure, you could do more, and I did with my older boys. But I came to realize that it was unnecessary, and realized that 4 & 5 is the perfect time to introduce them to the idea of schooling and get them into the habit of schooling, along with their reading, writing, and arithmetic lessons.

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I just look at the book and see what the recommendations are for first graders and when we're ready we start. Just do what your DD is capable of. I think holding kids back from their potential just frustrates them.

 

You can modify things if needed. For example, dd is really good at math but her writing isn't up for it so she just tells me the answers to write if needed. The beauty of homeschooling is going at your dd's pace.

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My younger kids do not use computers, video games, or watch tv (except a show late at night before bedtime.) So when they are entertaining themselves during the day, they are having to amuse themselves with their imagination and own inventions. My personal POV is that is better for cognitive development than academics.

 

:iagree: I agree...and I have a 1st grader who is basically unschooling right now (I just don't talk about it much on these forums, because it's a classical ed forum).

 

They only get one chance to be little.

 

Also, if your only child is 4 or 5, they might be huge go-getters, academically. When you have several kids, you start seeing a big range of personalities and abilities at different ages. I have kids of both genders and that's been extremely eye-opening to me.

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In general extended pretend play sequences have a more positive impact on cognitive development than formal work. This article discusses that concept.

 

The playing that is beneficial is extended pretend play. This goes far beyond something like fine motor skills acquired through playing with Play Doh or coloring. Beneficial pretend play happens with large chunks of time and often includes other people with whom to interact. This pretend play builds connections to allow for more abstract thought in future years. This does not mean academic skills have to be put off, but things like math skills are best learned in the context of pretending to buy and sell or a quest for "missing" toys where the adventurers add up how many they have found and decide on how many are left to find. Letters are all around us and can be incorporated into pretend play as well.

 

I have 3 kids and they are all different. It is so much easier to hold off formal academics for an older child. My oldest didn't start anything formal until 5.5 and only did 4 months of school his first school year, but his younger playmate started at 4.5 with nothing required until age 5. It was just too hard to keep them separate. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my 3 year old. She has excellent play skills and will engage in extended pretend play sequences for hours. At times she asks for some formal work. I'm still thinking about whether her requests are wanting more one-on-one time or actually wanting to learn academic skills. She is academically ready to read, but I tend to think it is better to wait on reading instruction so it will be easy. When I started my two older kids on reading instruction they took off with little help from me.

 

My oldest would have benefited from starting school at least by age 5. He gets insatiable when his tank is not full and the closer he came to age 5 the harder it was to keep his tank full without formal academics. He is still the same way. My younger son would have been fine waiting until 5.5. Seat work was quite limited in the first couple years though. We spent a lot of time in school, but it was more like a bridge between playing and learning with lots of projects and activities.

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My younger kids do not use computers, video games, or watch tv (except a show late at night before bedtime.) So when they are entertaining themselves during the day, they are having to amuse themselves with their imagination and own inventions. My personal POV is that is better for cognitive development than academics.

 

I agree, but it doesn't have to be either-or. There are 24 hours in the day; if a tiny fraction is spent on academics, that doesn't stop them from using their imagination freely the rest of the time. In my opinion, it gives them more tools to use in their play.

 

Maybe I'm biased because even before my younger dd could walk, she'd frequently crawl over to her pile of books and happily "read" them for long time periods. If she was out of sight and "too quiet," that's usually what she was up to. Books, letters, words, writing utensils, etc. have been favorite toys for her since the beginning. You wouldn't withhold from your child the names and functions of the parts of his toy cars and such. I just don't see why we make a distinction when it comes to the tools of literacy. If play-doh seems to engage their intellect more at age 4-5, that's fine. It wasn't the case with my kids, especially my youngest.

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You wouldn't withhold from your child the names and functions of the parts of his toy cars and such. I just don't see why we make a distinction when it comes to the tools of literacy.

 

The distinction here isn't teaching or not teaching, but how to teach. I don't think it is common to teach a young child about the parts of a toy car by getting formal curriculum, a worksheet, or even a book about cars. Most children would learn the parts of the toy car best when it is part of the vocabulary used in play with others. It can be the same with early academics.

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Right, but haven't most children this age played with Play-Doh and colored enough that they would be ready to start formal handwriting lessons?

 

 

Not at all. Your oldest is a girl, right? There are tons of bright boys who abhor anything fine motor and spend oodles of time doing gross motor activities prior to 5/6.

 

Their lack of fine motor skills has nothing to do with their intelligence, rather a difference in choice of activities. With my two boys, I remember being shocked at an event where a little girl sat and decorated cookies for about an hour. There was no way my boys even glanced at the cookie decorating table, let alone sat down at it to work on something fine motor. They grabbed a cookie, ate it, and ran off to shoot the bad guys with their friends. They just a different way of doing things, that doesn't translate as directly to formal schooling.

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The distinction here isn't teaching or not teaching, but how to teach. I don't think it is common to teach a young child about the parts of a toy car by getting formal curriculum, a worksheet, or even a book about cars. Most children would learn the parts of the toy car best when it is part of the vocabulary used in play with others. It can be the same with early academics.

 

:iagree: My kids dragged their books everwhere very young. My youngest belted out her ABC's everywhere she went at 18 months. It was just not anything ever intentionally taught or structured It was just incidental part being in an enriched play environment with an engaged and reactive parent and being a gifted kid. If I would have TRIED to teach her the ABC's at age one, I don't think it would have gone well. Even now as a (young) 2nd grader, I have a hard time getting her to jump through my hoops. I have fairly minimal output requirements for her for both our sanity. If more structured is what works at your house, I think it's great. I just don't think that is necessarily the right approach for every gifted child.

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Also, I would venture to stay that until you have had a very active boy, that section may well seem underwhelming. Remember, that SWB had 3 boys first, so I would assume she has experienced this firsthand. I mean, there is wiggling, and then there is *wiggling* to the point of never sitting still. Even studies show that the brain scans of girls at age 3 are roughly equivalent to the brain scans of boys at age 5.

 

Formal school at age 4 with both of my boys would have been absolutely impossible. They just never stopped moving. My oldest at 5 was even a disaster. He literally couldn't sit on a chair until 6, and only then with a special sensory cushion to give him wiggle ability. My younger is a bit calmer, but not by much (and he is demanding a wiggle cushion too, so there you go :tongue_smilie:).

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I agree with those that say it's NOT short changing the kids at all.

 

One thing to keep in mind about the WTM book is that it's geared toward the general population, not the gifted or the LD crowd. It's based on stages, which roughly apply to a set of ages, but not exactly, and again, if you have a child with an IQ higher or lower than average, those stages may hit at different times. SWB has said in her lectures that the kids that are "gifted" may hit the logic stage (at least in some subjects) earlier than mentioned in the book.

 

My experience is with boys.. My oldest is clearly gifted (though not tested - it's just obvious). At age 4, he taught himself to read. I did NOT do formal curriculum with him. In fact, I tried once, and he resisted big time. It wasn't that he wasn't ready to learn to read. It was that he wasn't ready to learn with a formal curriculum. He was better off unschooling, so that's what we did for PreK - we talked about what we were doing throughout the day, I answered his questions as they came up, we read together and discussed the letters he pointed out, and suddenly one day he was able to read. He entered K (at school) as a young 5 year old (June birthday) reading at grade level 2.5, doing math at 1st grade level easily, and he soon figured out multiplication and negative numbers. We had a lot of cool van discussions where he made connections, particularly with numbers... I explained multiplying by 10s and 100s, how a 10 adds one zero, 100 adds 2 zeros. That's as much as I told him. He then said, "Oh, so 1000 x 1000 = 1,000,000!" I was still counting zeros in my head (while driving :tongue_smilie:) after he said the answer. He didn't need a curriculum to explain the situation. He could figure it out. And we've flown through math curriculum ever since (long division literally took 1 day to understand :001_huh:). So clearly, his lack of PreK education wasn't a disadvantage, and in fact, I think if I had tried to do a more formal curriculum, it would have killed some of his connection making. I already saw that in 1st grade when he wasn't as willing to think outside the box about things as he once was. He was shifting over to a spoon feeding mentality - tell me how to do it, and then I'll do it. We're starting to get back to thinking about numbers and how they work together via discussions at the white board, so that's helping a lot. Just the other day, I said, "Give me 13/6 as a mixed number," and he said, "Well, 13 is a prime number... and so is 19..." "Yes, and that has absolutely nothing to do with changing 13/6 to a mixed number." :lol: He then immediately said 2 1/6. He was just going off the in the weeds, thinking about the numbers that he saw, which was GREAT. :D

 

Now I do have a PreK'er that is doing some formal school sort of... We do lessons when he asks. He'll be "K" next year, and he's been doing K level stuff since last summer. He's a different critter than his brother, and he really does benefit a bit from the formal stuff, but again, I am very light with it. He spends 10-15 minutes a day, if at all, on formal school. Next year, my goal will be 30-45 minutes a day... if he's ready for that (strangely, while he's my "wiggly" child, he sits nicely for school, while my oldest who wasn't wiggly in the least resisted big time at age 4... strange kids). Anyway, this child didn't learn the basics by just living life. He wasn't learning to count or do colors or shapes or anything. It was all beyond him, even when he was getting close to 4 years old. I plopped a R&S workbook in front of him, and he learned all those things very quickly. He seems to learn better via workbook than unschooling. Very strange. He may not be neurotypical though. We're still figuring that out.

 

My youngest is 2.5 and is learning tons via the unschooling method that my oldest learned by. I don't expect to be doing formal curriculum with him until closer to age 5, unless he just clamors for "school" (right now I can hand him a used math workbook and he thinks he's doing math :D).

 

And as far as fine motor skills for K students... My oldest didn't color at home. He still doesn't. He doesn't like to color. Were crayons available? Yes. Did he know that he could use them to fill in spaces in a picture? Yes. Did he want to? Nope. He was not ready to write letters at age 4 (I tried that too - major bust :lol:). He was barely ready at age 5. He's doing fine now - weaker side of normal for his age, probably. OTOH, my current 5 year old IS ready, and he's actually copied a sentence on the white board back when he was 4.5. He is much better at fine motor skills than my oldest. It has nothing to do with what I did or didn't do though. I've treated them both the same. The younger child is actually stronger in general. It's their individual development, which I have no control over.

 

So back to WTM... What is a child missing if they don't do formal curriculum at age 4? Will they be behind? Will they never meet their full potential? Will they be doomed to averageness instead of using their gifted IQ? Hardly. There are some kids that want to go full speed ahead, but that doesn't mean that the general recommendation should be formal curriculum at age 4. For the general population and most kids, I think there is great benefit to waiting, even with a gifted kid. The gifted kid isn't being held back by not doing curriculum. In fact, I think sometimes curriculum holds them back in those years. I agree with SWB's recommendations for the general population, and I adjust to what my children need.

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I have to say this-I'm kind of glad I didn't discover WTM, and this board, when my DD was a preschooler, because when I first read WTM, I felt GUILTY that I hadn't done much when my DD was very little, letting her just play most of the time and not trying to do anything really formal (with handwriting being the one exception-when she started crying because she wanted to write and couldn't, I did get HWOT for her). I really don't recall teaching her anything-I just tried to keep materials around for her and mostly spent those years from age 1 1/2 (when I realized she was reading, and 2 when she was diagnosed as gifted) to about 4 in a state of shock (and 4-5 in a state of "Uh, this isn't working, I've gotta find something else" when I saw how big of a fail Kindergarten was for her)

 

And I do admit I sometimes wonder where she'd be if I HAD started doing much of anything formal early on. But in total, I think I'm glad I didn't even think of "homeschooling" her when she was a preschooler-because I think at that age, she just needed the library trips and stacks of books, tons of blocks and legos, building a frog habitat in the backyard, and similar fun, relaxed activities that I didn't even think of as school.

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I have to say this-I'm kind of glad I didn't discover WTM, and this board, when my DD was a preschooler, because when I first read WTM, I felt GUILTY that I hadn't done much when my DD was very little, letting her just play most of the time and not trying to do anything really formal

 

Slightly OT....I felt guilty when I read the book -- and pulled my older dc out of private school within a week of finishing TWTM for the first time. (What was I thinking???) Thanks to help from SWB & the high school board here my dc got an awesome education. Oh, and my blood, sweat & tears. :)

 

I think the book does a great job of guiding parents for the early years. I went off the reservation and followed only a few of SWB's suggestions for early elementary but I still value that resource tremendously. In fact, I need to read it again. SWB literally set my family on a trajectory that I never saw coming 10 years ago.

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The distinction here isn't teaching or not teaching, but how to teach. I don't think it is common to teach a young child about the parts of a toy car by getting formal curriculum, a worksheet, or even a book about cars. Most children would learn the parts of the toy car best when it is part of the vocabulary used in play with others. It can be the same with early academics.

 

Exactly. Our youngest dd just turned 2. She has a vocabulary of 100s of words, knows all her colors, etc. She absolutely loves horses. She is a horse fanatic. She also loves all things animal and can identify about 50 by name. She loves to sit and look through books on animals, especially horse books. Sometimes she will bring her books to me to read to her. Of course I am going to read her stories! But, I am not going to ask her to come and sit with my so that I can read book X that I want her to hear.

 

She asks if she can do "C- E" when she wants to color and "write." Her name is Cecilia and when I write her name on her artwork when she finishes, I spell her name out loud to her while I am writing it.

But, am I going to sit and teach my barely 2 yr old her letters? Again, no. That is simply not how I approach things with my younger kids. I will simply do the normal things that I do as a parent with my child.

 

My answer would be the same if she were 4 and not just 2.

 

FWIW, I also have had kids that could careless about sitting still and even looking at books, listening to stories, or coloring, etc. That is perfectly fine with me as well. My oldest 2 boys were very busy when they were younger. They could sit and play Legos for hours, but they didn't want anything to do with the things that my 2 yod loves. Our 20 yr old ds was so busy that I couldn't even get him to sit still for K. He started 1st grade not being able to identify his letters, but by the end of 1st grade he was reading Charlotte's Web and by the end of 2nd he was devouring books like The Hobbit. I could have made him sit still and do things when he was younger, but it would have probably achieved making both of us miserable more than anything else.

 

We have to know our children. We also have to know our own parenting philosophies and be comfortable with our decisions.

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We have to know our children. We also have to know our own parenting philosophies and be comfortable with our decisions.

 

:iagree::iagree:

There's the rub. Confidence in our own choices -- despite the throng of 'voices' that we give so much credence to. At least I do/did. At 42, I think I'm *almost* comfortable in my own skin. Not there yet. I make a conscious choice to be a student of my children. Since I lack a crystal ball or mind-reading skills, I'm stuck with gut instinct, logic, fierce determination & reliance on God. I'm so thankful for wise moms like you, 8, and Janice, Nan, Jackie, CW, etc. I wish I had a chorus of local support but I don't. No one homeschools quite like I do. No one has dc like I have. At least here I can come and feel normal.

 

Thank you, all! I am blessed. :)

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Oh my goodness, forts under tables, cushions removed from sofas, yep.....btdt so many times!! LOL!!

 

My kids have a huge playground in our backyard. It is basically a time machine! It transports them to wherever they want to be......the jungle, a pioneer house, even to Narnia! (Hours upon hours are spent out there on it!)

 

They pretend their bikes are horses and "barrel race" in the driveway.

 

THey build cities and play "little city" where they barter and trade "goods and services." (Mostly things like Lego ships, warrior services, etc when the boys were little and now it is mostly veterinarian, baby-sitting, art/design services. There were "transition" yrs where things were far more varied when the boys and girls ages intertwined more.)

 

They tend to build "worlds" wherever they go and their games take on lives of their own and can last for days. I will say that I have absolutely no comprehension for what it would be like in the house of an only, though, like the OP. My kids do know how to create these games that are fun across multiple ages and cross the gender barrier.

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Thanks for all of the responses!

 

I think maybe DD was ready sooner than some due to a number of factors. While I don't necessarily think she is gifted, I do think she enjoys formal education and excels with it. We do 2 to 3 hours of schooling a day and then she plays the rest of the time. (Of course, we read aloud to her as well.) I think she would be crushed if we quit.

 

I do like the idea of the WTM's every four years method and in-depth unit studies. Even though DD is clearly ready and desires formal education, I don't think we're ready to start anything like SOTW and the suggested binders. So, it's difficult to know what to teach her aside from reading, writing and math. Those are our core subjects and then we rotate a fourth subject (currently, science, social studies, Bible and art). I think we're going to continue what we're doing for another year or so and then proceed with the WTM method. Wish there were more specific suggestions for the in-between.

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My oldest was 14 months old when we adopted her from Korea. After being home for 2 months she was already stringing small beads, cutting on the line with scissors, coloring well, drawing shapes etc... She had very advanced fine (and gross) motor skills. It was not because I pushed her, but she had a natural talent for those things and it was how she wanted to spend her time. I call her my old soul. She was never your typical baby IMO. We spent hours and hours reading when she was young and we have continued that tradition with both of them. She has developed a passion for books and loves to read and be read to. She begged me to teach her to read at age 3 so I did. When we adopted Lily she spent her time keeping up with her older sister. Madeline loves to teach Lily and helped her learn how to cut with scissors, hold a pencil and crayon.

 

We spend approximately 6 hours a day on school work. We do of hands on projects and reading aloud. They love it, crave it and ask for it. They still have free time to play, explore and just be kids, but we also spend a lot of time cuddled on the couch and reading. They both have fantastic imaginations and a boatload of toys to help foster them. Honestly when left to their own devices they usually pick up a book and read, or play with one of the school related "toys" we have instead of their regular toys.

 

Although I use the WTM as a guide for curriculum, I threw the recommendations for pre-K and K out the window for my girls. It works well for us.

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I have never understood the idea that doing playful and engaging learning activities with children somehow truncates their "childhood" or infringes on their play.

 

In fact, learning/teaching can (and should) capitalize on children's inclination to explore, discover and play. It seems silly to wall off worlds into strict divisions. Unconstructed play, constructed play, and more "formal" learning opportunities do not have to be antagonists. A child should have rich play life, and there is no reason "academics" (for lack of a better word) can't be part of the mix.

 

Bill

Edited by Spy Car
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I have never understood the idea that doing playful and engaging learning activities with children somehow truncates their "childhood" or infringes on their play.

 

In fact, learning/teaching can (and should) capitalize on children's inclination to explore, discover and play. It seems silly to wall off worlds into strict divisions. Unconstructed play, constructed play, and more "formal" learning opportunities do not have to be antagonists. A child should have rich play life, and there is no reason "academics" (for lack of a better word) can be part of the mix.

 

Bill

 

:iagree: Well said!

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Right, but haven't most children this age played with Play-Doh and colored enough that they would be ready to start formal handwriting lessons?

 

I understand play-based learning, but why not just use curriculum that is more fun and play-like in nature?

 

To address this--it really varies. It's unusual for a dc to hold a pencil correctly at the age you mentioned, and fine motor development varies greatly. So while there are dc who are ready to write at 4 & 5 (my girls could write uppercase letters at 3, before they were reading), there are many who aren't (my ds had delayed fine motor skills & really needed HWT with all the hand stuff.)

 

Also, some of us have dc who ate play dough even after the age of 3 because they liked it:glare:, unless we were sitting at the table with them, or who got it all through the carpet, so it was a very controlled & limited activity.

 

Those of us with accellerated and/or gifted dc don't have the same experiences, either, even with our variations. My dd's were past the rote stage by the time they were 6, so I had to modify WTM greatly. They also would have done terribly with FLL, even though it worked very well for my ds. Most of ds's abilities show up in his conceptual abilities, his highly technical thinking and his deep, penetrating questions that he started asking around age 3 or 4. WTM was spot on for much of his stuff, but he just wasn't ready to read at 5 due to his visual development & lack of interest. Even when he was interested, at 5.5, his vision interfered (I didn't know about it since it's vision, not sight) and he took off at a fairly late age.

 

These differences show up in many areas, such as reading, for example. Highly gifted dc, for eg, don't all start to read at 3 or 4. Sometimes it has to do with vision development, interest, etc.

 

As for colouring pictures, for dc of normal and late fine motor skill development it does help with that. I personally eschewed colouring books & sheets & gave my dc drawing materials. This worked well for my dd's, but failed for my ds who wanted to be shown how to draw everything for a long time. However, all of my dc enjoyed any colouring that was involved with an assignment (eg Singapore Math).

 

IMO, any dc who is younger than school age should be the one to lead as far as what they consider play & education. For some young dc, learning to read & doing math are play.

 

The AL forum is here for those of us whose dc were often ready to do more at 4 or 5 than is recommended in WTM, which is a book that addresses a broader audience, and there are even people who buy WTM who find the section for 4 & 5 yo's helpful. I'd say that WTM is more rigourous than many methods, but not particularly advanced, unless you're looking at the newer standards under the No Child Left Behind act. Most of it is grade level, particularly in the elementary school years, but it's more rigourous & demanding if done well. That said, there is a large variety of methods that people use on these forums--math posts are one eg. There are people on the forums who use things ranging from quite easy to very challenging.

 

 

Right, DD has been holding a pencil, crayon, whatever correctly and using it to scribble, draw, color since she was one year and so many months. Don't remember exactly. So, I cringe when curriculum calls for coloring a picture. Not sure what that really teaches.

 

I understand that some children are sorely under-prepared for public kindergarten, but the parents of those children probably aren't spending $30 on the WTM.

 

Overall, I feel as though the WTM encourages a more advanced method of schooling, so the 4-and-5-year-old section really disappoints me.

Edited by Karin
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I have never understood the idea that doing playful and engaging learning activities with children somehow truncates their "childhood" or infringes on their play.

 

In fact, learning/teaching can (and should) capitalize on children's inclination to explore, discover and play. It seems silly to wall off worlds into strict divisions. Unconstructed play, constructed play, and more "formal" learning opportunities do not have to be antagonists. A child should have rich play life, and there is no reason "academics" (for lack of a better word) can't be part of the mix.

 

Bill

 

:iagree: I completely agree! Well said.

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I start much earlier with my little ones, but nothing is required before age 5. So it is child led. Of my 5 children total, three have read before age 5, two have done math before age 5, and one is doing all subjects. One son didn't read a lick till he was 10, despite what I did then he read Moby Dick ! I play it all by ear. Short days, interest led, skip what they aren't interested in. At age 5, they must do the 3 R's at the very least every day. All of my older 3 are either attending college or graduated, so it all worked out in the end.

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I wouldn't call what I did with my dd at that age "formal" academics because we didn't "sit" for a certain time each day to learn or have a curriculum we followed but I had workbooks (tracing things, dot-to-dot, etc...) she used when she wanted to "do school" like her brothers and we played all sorts of games with numbers and letters and did lots and lots of reading. Basically, I followed her lead and we played with what interested her whether that was letters, numbers, all the muscles and bones in the body, playing Phantom of the Opera (version #1-54) with her Playmobil castle, making pretend dinner for a hundred dolls...whatever. My dd started violin at 3yo and everything she learned when she "practiced" was through play.

 

TWTM, for me, is a guideline...an outline of sorts that I fill in with whatever I think best meets our needs at whatever age I need them. I use the resources I like and find my own, with lots of thanks to people on the forums here, when I don't.

 

Truly, a typical 3-4yo may not be ready to sit for "formal" academics though I think most can learn a ton through play. I don't think there is anything at all wrong with waiting either if a child is too squirmy or not showing an interest in letters or numbers at that age. I think kids learn best if a parent helps them develop a love of learning rather than forcing academics but I also know there are those children for whom learning is a passion because I had one of those 3yos.

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Even though DD is clearly ready and desires formal education, I don't think we're ready to start anything like SOTW and the suggested binders. So, it's difficult to know what to teach her aside from reading, writing and math. Those are our core subjects and then we rotate a fourth subject (currently, science, social studies, Bible and art). I think we're going to continue what we're doing for another year or so and then proceed with the WTM method. Wish there were more specific suggestions for the in-between.

 

I think your current schedule sounds great, and you shouldn't feel like you have to do more. Maybe you can go more in-depth? There are just so many resources for those subjects (if you're like me and falter a bit with just winging it). Is your dd especially interested in any given subject? That would be a great way to cater to her interest in a subject, and in learning in general. My dd just turned 4, and I plan to use the time between now and when she starts first grade and does her full school schedule to focus on what she is interested in. If there is nothing in particular at that time, then (when she would have started kindergarten) to think about what topics are the most important to me foundation-wise with history and/or science, or to do a history/science curriculum geared for about first grade (or wherever she's at) that looks fun, but I know wouldn't fit into the four-year cycle. Maybe I'll pick a good art curriculum instead, who knows.

 

I feel like the academic emphasis during this age should be about learning to think, examine, enjoy learning, etc. Whatever you do that can build on those things is valuable. It doesn't have to fit into what you will be doing later on, when the child starts first grade.

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I've decided to use most of the time providing her with a broad introduction to science and American History/social studies. One thing that baffles me with the WTM method is that they don't introduce American History until level/grade 4. I understand the reasoning, but there's no way I'm going to leave me DD ignorant of basic American knowledge until that time. Right now, we are studying American symbols (American flag, Statue of Liberty, bald eagle, the White House, etc.), which she is loving. We're using the social studies resource in my siggy, which she greatly enjoys.

 

I think by giving her this broad knowledge during the in-between, I will be a lot more on board with the WTM method. I like the idea of in-depth study, but I can't see her not knowing certain things until second, third or even fourth grade.

 

 

I think your current schedule sounds great, and you shouldn't feel like you have to do more. Maybe you can go more in-depth? There are just so many resources for those subjects (if you're like me and falter a bit with just winging it). Is your dd especially interested in any given subject? That would be a great way to cater to her interest in a subject, and in learning in general. My dd just turned 4, and I plan to use the time between now and when she starts first grade and does her full school schedule to focus on what she is interested in. If there is nothing in particular at that time, then (when she would have started kindergarten) to think about what topics are the most important to me foundation-wise with history and/or science, or to do a history/science curriculum geared for about first grade (or wherever she's at) that looks fun, but I know wouldn't fit into the four-year cycle. Maybe I'll pick a good art curriculum instead, who knows.

 

I feel like the academic emphasis during this age should be about learning to think, examine, enjoy learning, etc. Whatever you do that can build on those things is valuable. It doesn't have to fit into what you will be doing later on, when the child starts first grade.

Edited by pitterpatter
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I think by giving her this broad knowledge during the in-between, I will be a lot more on board with the WTM method. I like the idea of in-depth study, but I can't see her not knowing certain things until second, third or even fourth grade.

 

I think that's a great way of doing it. Giving them a broad base of knowledge in the early years by following their interests through reading or doing hands on projects on a variety of different topics gives them a framework on which to build connections when they formally study topics later. They already know the basics and have all that knowledge in place so learning more in depth material becomes so much easier.

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I've decided to use most of the time providing her with a broad introduction to science and American History/social studies. One thing that baffles me with the WTM method is that they don't introduce American History until level/grade 4. I understand the reasoning, but there's no way I'm going to leave me DD ignorant of basic American knowledge until that time. Right now, we are studying American symbols (American flag, Statue of Liberty, bald eagle, the White House, etc.), which she is loving. We're using the social studies resource in my siggy, which she greatly enjoys.

 

I think by giving her this broad knowledge during the in-between, I will be a lot more on board with the WTM method. I like the idea of in-depth study, but I can't see her not knowing certain things until second, third or even fourth grade.

 

Then there you go. :001_smile: I think you just have to get to the point where you accept the fact that you will never complete agree with ANYONE'S plan. This is ultimately why many of us chose to homeschool, right?

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