Last Friday morning, I packed Jojo’s school bag with his snack and a change of clothes. I was particularly zealous that morning because I was labeling everything in sight with our new Stikins labels. As I was labeling snack containers, lids, and clothing items, Jojo found a box of workbooks I had packed in preparation for our upcoming move.
I usually keep the workbooks on a high shelf so that he doesn’t tear them up or scribble on all 45 pages in a twenty second span.
He grabbed a Kumon book that I hadn’t introduced to him yet because I thought it was above his capabilities. But I was mistaken!
When I came to tell Jojo it was time to leave for school, he was absorbed in My Book Of Rhyming Words (Kumon Workbooks). He has been sounding out some words, but I wasn’t sure if it could be really classified as reading or not.
Suddenly, here he is with this seemingly advanced workbook, reading out words like fan, pan, dog, log, etc., etc., and filling in the missing letters.
I was pretty amazed and I hated to interrupt his work cycle but eventually I told him again, gently, that it was time for school.
He said, “I want to learn at home today.”
I eagerly consented.
He persisted with My Book Of Rhyming Words until he was satisfied, and then he came to me looking for “more work”.
I pulled out a giant 300 page Pre-K workbook I bought over a year ago called Everything for Early Learning, Preschool, which has a price sticker of $3.86 from Wal-Mart.
Many of the activities are a bit below his level (example: color everything on this page red), but some of the tracing, cutting, gluing, and dot-to-dot activities are fun and engaging for Jojo.
We sat and did worksheets, and Jojo asked for another and another.
Jojo called me “Teacher Mama” every time he had a question, and he respectfully placed his hand on my shoulder to get my attention if he needed to say something.
I was on cloud nine; THIS was what I had dreamed of when I decided to have kids in the first place! It was a perfect morning.
After about 10 worksheets he decided it was play time.
At some point I served him his snack, since I had already packed it in his school bag.
For his downtime I put on one of our more educational DVD’s, like a language learning title.
He has since asked for me to be Teacher Mama several more times, including Saturday night when we seriously went through about twenty worksheets in a row! Teacher Mama was getting tired!
It was extremely rewarding for me, and fun for Jojo too.
On Sunday night I set up an indoor obstacle course that involved crawling through a tunnel, bouncing on an exercise ball five times, jumping over a pillow, and twirling a scarf.
I pretended to time him with my stop watch, but since I never use the stop watch I wasn’t very accurate because I couldn’t figure out which buttons to push…
We had a wonderful weekend, but I decided to take him to school on Monday morning. He said again that he wanted to learn at home, but I said it was a school day and he didn’t whine or protest or pout.
On the ride to school I asked him what he would say when asked why he wasn’t in school on Friday.
He said, “I learned at home.”
I asked him what was his favorite thing he did when he was learning at home, and he said “the obstacle course”, although he mispronounced it in some adorable way that I can’t remember.
He has a keen sense of humor and is starting to make his own jokes. Last week we went to the bank after we picked him up from school, and Jojo and I sat at a picnic table near a drink stand while Nick went in to do boring bank stuff.
We watched the traffic and Jojo noticed a dog starting to cross the road. In a high pitched voice, Jojo started saying, “Help Meeeeee!” as the dog trotted accross the road. It made me laugh not only because it was a funny thing to say and was in no way related to poo poo or booties (Jojo’s favorite humorous subjects), but also because it brought me joy to see this side of my son, creatively finding humor in a mundane scene.
In light of these things I’m wondering how can I tell what is best for this boy in terms of his education?
Would it be better for him to learn at home? Nick will be working at a nice private school next year, and Jojo will have free tuition. Does it make sense to refuse that in lieu of presuing home education?
He will be in Pre-K. Will it be a complete drag for someone who already knows how to read, write, and count?
The things he DOES need to work on are problems that will not endear him to any teacher: continually active, noisy, even disruptive. Jojo definitely marches to the beat of his own drum. And his drum is very, very loud.
So do I put him in a classroom with twenty other four-year-olds and hope for the best? That he doesn’t become labeled as bad?
Is he gifted? Is Jojo honest-to-goodness gifted? I really don’t know and I’m not sure I am in a position to judge. Everything my children do is a source of amazement to me, so I’m not sure if I am the starry eyed mother or if his abilities are really something special.
Parenthood is continually catching me off guard with these difficult questions. *sigh*
What is a Mama to do?