Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What if and the reading monster

In case you didn't know it, one of the greatest benchmarks that parents like to measure their elementary aged children by is if they can read and how well they do it. I'm a homeschooler, so there's also an air of "Are you hurting your child by not having them in public schools?" when some people ask about Hannah's reading level.  Because let's face it, the kids in public school are expected to read in Kindergarten if not before hand and all their curriculum is based on the fact that kids must be able to read, so if you can't mainstream your child at any given moment, you can be put under suspicion. 

As the start of our new school year began, Hannah and I were at the library and she happened to sit down to look at some books near the homeschooling section.  I looked over and there was a book about unschooling.  A concept that I adore, but am a bit too much of public school graduate and perfectionist to take on.  But then I found myself checking out the book and reading and saying "Yes we can!" And that's exactly what we are doing this semester, and life is 200% improved in my opinion.  I find Hannah wanting to learn and being interested in a variety of things that had kind of fallen away when we were having a set school time.  I find myself having more energy and able to engage her with information when she requests it.  I'm able to read to her for longer periods of time when she wants to be read to.  I can even see her being more interested in reading, which she was not before and she's picking up things that she refused to acknowledge. 

But here's the amazing part.  Yesterday I had these huge amazing what if questions posed to me during meditation.  "What if Hannah is going to spend the majority of her life in areas where she is not going to know the language?" "What if Hannah needs to remember how she learned to read English so that she can adapt that to other languages that she will learn in her life?" 

I thought about that and realized that to encourage the reading of English before she is able to even remember how she did, like I was taught, may put her at a disadvantage later in life.  She may very well need to know how to get around in a culture where she can not understand the signage and written word.  She might even end up in a culture where there is no written language at all.  And I have to be okay with that.  I can't just prepare her to be okay with living in middle class USA.  I actually have to prepare her to live as God desires her.  And that realization really put the whole unschooling thing into perspective and it totally took the benchmark to a whole new level.  Does my child know how to read right now? No, and I am excited about what that may translate into for her future.  I don't know what her future holds, but it is certain that God will form and nurture her if she allows Him.  And that he will take these small things that we consider set backs or hindrances by societal stand point and use them for His glory.  I think I have a lot to learn with this new school year and I'm looking forward to what God has in store for us.

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