Historic and Universal Childhood Patterns

Our Four Year Old Boy Deep in Thought

Long-time homeschooler, Helen Middlebrook, wrote a piece on an issue many home educators observe and appreciate in the time gained with kids at home.  Helping your children find their gifts is an exciting journey for all.

Helen Middlebrook lives in Guam and her article was posted in Pacific Daily News.

Want smart, mature kids? Homeschool them

The short reason I am a home educator is because children belong at home with their parents, in an environment where they will become who they were meant to be.

While that might sound either lofty or naive, consider this: In 1960, the Smithsonian Institution commissioned a study to discover the childhood pattern of genius, and the results were astoundingly simple.

The ingredients for genius were: warm, loving, educationally responsive parents and other adults; little time spent with peers; and lots of creative freedom under parental guidance to explore their ideas.

The 20 chosen geniuses in the Smithsonian Institute study were all men with outstanding accomplishments in science, law, literature or politics.  Yes, some of them were homeschooled.

The many questions asked by little ones can be answered or studied in a comfortable space, whether we’re out exploring or cuddled up reading a book.  To me, a government role would be getting out of our way or at least helping children stay at home with family by not lobbying for lower compulsory attendance ages.  Instead we have the call for universal preschool and zero to five plans, which are expensive, particularly budget busting costly in Illinois.  The government initiatives also don’t appear to be useful.  The research done when these initiatives were started decades ago seemed to conclude institutionalizing children was not conducive to their futures.

I know many incredible parents who nurture and provide gainful opportunities for their schooled children too.  But, having experienced a public school and home educating environment, the schedule was much easier and relaxed at home.  Many parents stay home with their babies as long as possible before heading back to a work schedule.  But our government isn’t using our tax money to do anything but tell us someone else should be in charge of our children.

In the article, Dr. Raymond Moore was referenced by Middlebrook.  He was the Better Late Than Early author warning of the trend beginning in the 1960’s towards schooling for little ones.  Dr. Moore’s books seem timeless and his documentation is so important observing the powerful public school steerage away from learning.

 We offer here a synopsis of our books (Better Late Than EarlyHome-Grown KidsHome-Spun Schools, and Home-Style Teaching and our monograph “Research and Common Sense” from Columbia University’s Teachers College Record, Winter 1982-83.), and chapters in more than 30 college textbooks in various languages.

Our conclusions are actually quite old-fashioned.  They seem new to some because they differ largely from, and often challenge, conventional practice.  Our early childhood research grew out of experiences in the classroom with children who were misbehaving or not learning because they were not ready for formal schooling.  Concerned first with academic achievement, we set out to determine the best ages for school entrance.  But more important has been the socialization of young children—which also involves senses, coordination, brain development, reason, and social-emotional aspects of child development.  These conclusions come from our Stanford, University of Colorado Medical School, Michigan State and Hewitt investigative teams who did basic research, and also analyzed more than 8,000 early childhood studies.  We offer briefly here our conclusions which you can check against any sound research that you know (It is thoroughly documented in our book, School Can Wait).

Historical basis seems to be lost in this modern world, and most unfortunately, in our modern schools.  My beliefs are not along the same lines as Naomi Wolf, but I am just as alarmed as she was in 2007 at the civic and historical ignorance of our citizens.  Restoring the rule of law is an issue where I would lock arms with her.

BK Marcus writes more on the Smithsonian Institute’s study by pyschologist – Harold G. McCurdy. Marcus points out McCurdy’s conclusion:

“It might be remarked that the mass education of our public school system, is, in its way,  a vast experiment on the effect of reducing all three of the above factors to minimum values, and should, accordingly, tend to suppress the occurrence of genius. ”

Isn’t it time we stop experimenting on our children in order to maintain the status quo?  The status quo that so many say doesn’t work.

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