In Belgium, it’s the norm for a child to be in school by Liam’s age. You can actually enter school at 2 and a half. We’ve tried this with Liam a couple times, but he didn’t really get much out of it. He learns far more at home one-on-one with me. True, at his age it’s not necessary, or even good, for him to be sitting down and doing lessons like a mini-scholar. But in the two? months he went to school after Harry was born, he lost so much of the ground we’d already covered. He was sounding out simple words a few months ago, and now he has problems again with some letter recognition. Part of that is my fault — I slacked off assuming he’d be getting the letter/number exposure in school.
We decided some time ago to homeschool, but the exposure to French he’d get in a local school occasionally pulled me in another direction. However, the more research we did into the school system here, the more we realized that our reasons for wanting to homeschool in the states hold here as well. The “system” works the same pretty much the world over. Unless we want to fork out mega-mula to send him to a great private school somewhere, we homeschool.
So now the planning begins in earnest. Liam and I will be starting, officially, with a two year kindergarten program when we get moved into the new house. We’ll start no later than April 1st. The actual “school” part of the day will take up only an hour or so — Liam’s real business will be about playing and getting grimy and exploring his world, which is what I think will benefit a four year old boy most. For now we’re doing lots of reading, life skills, letter recognition games, number games, tons and tons and tons of pretend play.
Liam’s been working on learning to pour. This picture is from day one, hence the water coming from the milk box and the absorbent pad to soak up any spills. He’s now an old pro and gets his breakfast with only a slightly watchful eye from Mama. He also gets his own snacks and juice boxes out of the refrigerator.
Working with his magnetic pattern blocks. This was a great find, Grandma M! He spends a lot of time with these and other hands-on type toys. Note the closed doors to the television behind him. We have a new rule in the house — the television goes off at 8:30AM, can come on briefly while he has lunch, and doesn’t come back on until 4PM. I’d eventually like to simply keep the doors shut all day, and just reserve TV for an evening thing. But baby steps. I don’t need a revolt on my hands.
Remember above I mentioned the pretend play? There was a time I actually worried that Liam didn’t spend enough time pretending, that I wasn’t encouraging him to use his imagination, that somehow something was stifling his creativity. Ummmm, yeah. So, he spends half of his day pretending he’s a superhero, or a character out of a book, or a movie, or playing elaborate make believe games involving race cars and pirate ships. And playing ball with a tennis ball and oven mitts. What, you don’t stand around and play catch with oven mitts? Then you don’t have a four year old boy.
So despite the fact that Liam isn’t in school already, learning to stand in line and raise his hand and deal with bullies (I actually had someone tell me that was a reason to send my kids to school, so they’d learn to deal with the bullies in the class. I have a better solution: make your kids behave.) he’s learning lots and loving his life.
* It may seem that Harry spends all his time in the swing, seeing as those are the only photos you seem to see. While he does really love the swing, I assure you that he actually spends most of his time being carried, coddled, playing with us, etc. But it’s difficult to take a picture of a baby when he’s in your arms, you know?