He's Only Five...

Tuesday, November 17

Today was a great day for me and Aiden. We spent some time listening to music together, baked banana muffins, and played Candy Land (followed by the imaginary adventures of the gingerbread man that stretched my skills at pretend play). Aiden practiced his piano lessons, played outside, created silly games about battling the mist coming from the humidifier, and had about 45 minutes of screen time. There was also some weird experiment he worked on in the bathroom that involved cardboard and water and a big mess that he then got to clean up. Then he attended taekwondo class and we sat down for dinner as a family. All in all, it was a typical Monday. In a bit when we get ready for bed Matt will read to him for about 30 minutes and then he will tag out and Aiden will read me a couple of books and we will chat about whatever is on his mind (usually something about space, architecture or deep theological questions) while we snuggle. 

When we began this year, the year when his best friend and cousins of the same age started kindergarten, I would have looked at today and thought I had failed. There was no formal instruction. Well, unless you count the piano lesson, but even that was review. We didn't leave the house. Aiden didn't even change out of his (nice, warm) pajamas before going outside to play. It is clear by the markers and hole punch and various drawings that there was some form of writing and drawing that took place, but it wasn't guided by me. I was able to get a fair amount of my own work done, and Aiden was able to keep himself entertained while I did that. But... it wasn't "school."

I have been feeling more and more convicted lately to let go of the pressure to "do kindergarten" this year. I often think about the fact that if we were going to send Aiden to school, one of the brick and mortar variety, we would have delayed his start anyhow. Not to mention the fact that in our state homeschool students aren't even recognized until age 6 (which he will not be until after the school year ends). Yet I spent several months trying to force us into some sort of school day routine. I fought against the frustration of not having enough time to do it all (marriage, parenting, school, ministry, work, friend, etc), without ever considering the idea that perhaps my approach to homeschool is what I needed to change.

A big part of my struggle is that Aiden has been learning at lightening speed without me pushing it at all. Those books he will read me tonight? I would guess they will probably be at least 1st or 2nd grade level. And that is without me formally teaching him to read. He started working on fractions on his own the other day. He has always been able to learn songs and short stories after hearing them only a couple times. His Bible knowledge is growing all the time. He knows facts about the planets that I have to look up to keep up with him. He is just a little sponge. So I worry... if I don't keep pouring into his education now will he suffer? But then I remember that I didn't really teach him most of that stuff to start with. I have always provided materials and encouragement more than lessons. I have made myself available to research whatever topic he gets hooked on for the day or week. We read like there is no tomorrow. This is how he has learned probably 75% of what he knows.

And yet...

I worry about what people will think if I can't show them completed workbooks or my detailed lesson plans. I let myself get wrapped up in the idea of this being a personal failure to be organized and focused enough. I pick out the worst of days to use as a yardstick for how we are doing... instead of looking at days like today. Nice, normal days when learning surely happened even if I can't point to specifics. I need to let myself look at this little boy that I spend my days with and see him as a 5-year-old who is still just a little kid. He seems so much older sometimes because he is smart and funny.

I am learning to trust myself. It is a slow process, but I see evidence of it here and there. There is no need for me to rush this process of parenting. There is no need to rush Aiden through his childhood. We are both learning, and we both need time to go at our own pace. So, if tomorrow is like today was, I will be happy. If tomorrow Aiden wakes up and wants to do Math worksheets and handwriting pages (it happens!) I will be equally happy. And if tomorrow goes absolutely bonkers and I end up turning on pbs kids just so I can get through the day... well, I will know that it is only one day in what I hope will be a very full childhood of learning and life experiences.

Do I still think of myself as a home educator? Absolutely! Will Aiden continue to proudly tell people he does homeschool kindergarten? Yep! Am I going to get hung up on what exactly that should look like? I want to say no, but a more accurate answer would be that I will try not to. Instead I try to focus on the picture of family that comes from God's Word, and how I can prepare my child (and myself) to live and serve as a member of the body of Christ. The rest will come together if I start my focus there. Of this I am confident.


  1. It sounds like unschooling at its finest. From an educator who believes in alternative education methods anyhow, I say - hooray! Keep doing what you're doing - he will become a lifelong learner!

  2. Gotta do what works for you and your family... and keep your son happy and learning...but also smart to keep monitoring - which is what you're doing. :)
    xx, Karen

  3. Please continue what you are doing. My son was a late July baby and here in Florida they start Kindergarten at age 5 with a Sept 1 cutoff date. He was by far the youngest in his class and we had tons of behavior issues, even though I was told he is "very smart" We continued to struggle w him through 1st grade (since we have local cousins the same age and I wanted them in the same grade) They wanted me to test him for ADHD but I just felt like he didnt have an issue, but was simply TOO YOUNG. So I held him back and he is currently doing 1st grade again and it is the best decision I have ever made. Let your kid just be a kid (esp with boys this is important since they are not as mature as girls) My son is now THRIVING. Trust your gut. ;)

  4. I can really relate to this! I had the same journey with 2 of my sons. Each child is unique and has their own needs. We need to stop comparing our kids and how we parent and trust ourselves. You are doing a great job!

  5. I agree with this 100%. My son is 5, has speech delays and impairments, and is such a smart and sweet boy! Our "school" takes 30-45 minutes a day without any pressure from me. He is still learning to recognize the alphabet but that's okay with me! Slow and steady wins the race! If he were in Kindergarten at public school, he would be considered behind for not knowing his alphabet by sight yet. But I know he is just fine!

  6. It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job! He sounds like a smart, fun, and funny little boy. Don't worry about what other's think. It's what he thinks and learns that is important, and it sounds like it's a lot of good stuff.

  7. YAY!! A love of learning already instilled, a lifelong success in the making.


  8. Sounds to me like you are doing a great job.

  9. It sounds to me like he;s growing and learning like a champioN!

  10. I love everything about this post. I've been homeschooling my kids for the past 4 years--they are 13, 9, 8. and 6 1/2. Most of our days are fairly "traditional" with spelling words, science experiments, and story problems....but the days when we just relax and learn by living life, being creative, imagination, prayer, and play are so refreshing for all of us....Keep up the great work! :)

  11. My kids are much older than yours (8, 9 & 10) and most days we rarely do more than two math worksheets and maybe, maybe a writing page. You are right to notice how much self guided learning he's doing. He sounds like he's ahead of the game if he's already reading and trying to work with fractions. Just keep doing what you're doing; it is so obviously working. So hard to break that mold of what schooling should be or schooling should like... three years in and I'm still trying to remind myself that learning takes place everywhere all day long. Even watching PBS! :)


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Your support and encouragement are priceless!