I never felt part of the mommy wars. If anything, I was jealous of my stay-home mom friends. But alas, I married a teacher—need I say more?
So my children began child care early and, today they are both in elementary school. (They do get a bonus that most kids don’t—they get daddy 24/7 all summer long.)
I firmly believe that there are benefits and negatives to both full-time child care and staying at home full-time. That said, most of us make our decisions based on what is best for our child given the circumstances in which we live.
Which leads me to what I want to talk about. I stumbled on a blog by Joanne Rendell about “unschooling.” The unschooling.com website explains it like this:
Have you ever described ‘red’ to a person who is color blind? Sometimes, trying to define unschooling is like trying to define red. Ask 30 unschoolers to define the word and you’ll get thirty shades of red. They’ll all be red, but they’ll all be different. Generally, unschoolers are concerned with learning or becoming educated, not with ‘doing school.’ The focus is upon the choices made by each individual learner, and those choices can vary according to learning style and personality type. There is no one way to unschool.
Although they do offer multiple definitions.
Frankly, what I really struggled with was Rendell’s closing. She writes:
But un-kindergarten for us means Benny can sleep late so I can write. It means we don’t have to worry about bedtimes and can go out on the town with friends any night of the week. We can go to Europe and visit my family when the flights are cheap. Un-kindergarten also means we can pick and choose how we spend our days and who we spend them with. Benny can go to free classes at the Metropolitan Museum in the week when it’s less crowded. He can read a book on sharks when he feels like it. He can experiment with bungee cords while eating his breakfast at noon.
The decision seems to be about what’s most convenient for the parents, rather than what may be best for the child. John J. Edwards III addresses the issue in his blog on the Wall Street Journal. He says, “Maybe I’m hopelessly square, but I think early-childhood education—like education in general—provides structure and discipline while not necessarily stifling creativity.”
What do you think?
It is with great embarrassment that I confess that my daughter’s first word was “mall.” This was shortly followed by “shoes.” I don’t even want to think about what this must say about me. Ironically, it says little about her.
Anyone who knows my daughter knows that fashion is of no concern to her. Her only rule is comfort—although this has a daily changing definition and frequently does not fit into the norm of what you and I might define as comfort. For example, she takes after my husband and is quite thin. Pants cannot be loose under any circumstances. And when she was in kindergarten it was our morning ritual for her to throw a temper tantrum about her socks. Of course in hindsight I wonder why I just didn’t let her go without them—it only gets so cold in North Carolina in the winter.
But I digress. Yes her first words were shopping centric, but the point is she spoke them pretty early. And she continued to develop language skills at a fairly rapid rate. I’m sure there were many factors that influenced her language development. What I learned recently from researchers here at FPG is that I also was lucky that she was in a quality child care program.
I have always been under the misguided notion that parents could make up for anything academic that might be lacking in a child care environment. Perhaps this was how I made myself feel better since I had to go back to work when she was three months old.
Well I was wrong. This study showed that in every language development measurement used, children in higher quality child care programs significantly outperformed those in lower quality care. The kids in the study all came from two-parent families who had some level of higher education and were of middle income.
So how do you find a quality program? There are lots of resources out there to help guide you. One that I used when looking at childcare programs was an interview sheet I downloaded from BabyCenter. They have an updated version available online. The National Association for the Education of Young Children also is a good resource.
If you want more info about the study, you can read the summary online.