Monday, February 28, 2011

Who will rescue me from this jail called Pre-school?

I am a 4 yr old child. A few months ago my mum told me that she would take me to a wonderful place called "pre-school" where I would learn
many new things and have many friends. I looked forward to that day with eagerness and also apprehension as I would have to leave my dear
mum for the first time. I was not prepared for the shock that awaited me. When I entered the place called classroom I saw a "sea" of
children all seated in rows. A young lady said hello to me and took me by the hand. I had to leave my mum and was almost in tears. My mum told me that I had to call her teacher and that she would now be like a mother to me in school. I wondered about the way she did certain things - they were quite different from what my mum does.
Didn't she know that I did not like sitting on a bench for 3 hours everyday? At home I spent most of my time on the floor playing and learning with my mum. Didn't she know that I had to talk to my
friends to learn language and that I was not yet ready to read and write? Why did she ask me to use a pencil when it was so difficult to hold? How did she expect me to write on such narrow lines? This is the most boring thing I ever had to do. Couldn't she give me something more interesting, more challenging, more fulfilling? Why does she think that when I play I am wasting my time? Doesn't she know that I learn many things while I play? While playing with water
I learn important concepts like wet and dry, sink and float and even heavy and light. I learn the properties of water and also learn new words. How can I learn to speak when all the time I hear teacher saying "Keep Quiet". Why do I have to learn to write so many numbers when my brother in Class 1 has to learn the same thing- numbers to 99 only. Can't I learn that when I am 6 years? Mummy says that soon I will have to go to a "big school" and so I must get ready for the "interview". What is that? I heard my cousin telling my dad that he was getting a new job and had to go for an interview. I do not want to work now, I do not want a job now then why do I have to go for an interview? Why do I have to carry this heavy bag? I am so small. I want to sing, dance, run, play and use my mind but all they make me do is to sit in a classroom full of children and repeat the same things over and over again. Why do they treat me like an animal in a circus?
Don't they know that I want to touch things and feel them, smellthem, taste them to learn more about them. I am not allowed to move out of my place and my bench is so high that I find it difficult to keep my feet on the ground. My legs pain a lot and I am not at all
comfortable sitting on the hard bench for long. Why can't I paint,draw and stick things the way I want. Why do I have to use the same colour my teacher uses? Why can't I be different? Why do I have to be the same as the rest of my friends? Is someone out there listening to my silent cry? Can any out there fight for the cause of young children who have not yet learnt to express themselves verbally? Can anyone out there rescue me from this jail called pre-school?...............

- Anna Coelho, Soccoro, Porvorim,
Anna Coelho is a Pre-school Teacher by profession and at present the Director of Wee-Attitudes Centre for Excellence in Early Childhood Care and Education. She has been training pre-school teachers at Nirmala Institute and also been involved in the process of skills
upgradation of pre-school teachers of Diocesan schools in Goa. Anyone wishing to support her venture of revolutionalising pre-school education in Goa may contact her at 9850489544 or 2410565 or at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homeschooling: The legacy of Raymond and Dorothy Moore
Raymond and Dorothy Moore began the "delayed formal schooling" movement in homeschool circles. They've demystified the homeschool process by showing how compatable home life is with the learning needs of young children.
So many homeschoolers get hung-up with school-like thinking. Even opting out of preschool is now seen as a radical decision by many. The Moores have provided counterweight to these school-oriented pressures.
Domestic life: Play and chores
The Moores contend that children by nature orient their learning around play. They encourage a life filled with play. No rush to introduce school-ish lessons; just think learning skills as you do all kinds of things. Building blocks teach spacial skills, which are essential for mathematical thinking.
Chores also lend themselves to developing academic skills. For example, sorting socks is a math skill because it relies on patterning. They encourage you to get your preschoolers involved in sorting socks and silverware, as well as setting the table.
Language skills are learned through frequent contact with adults. Casual talking in a fully trusting and loving environment creates thoughtful language skills in children.
Keep children's lives rich and full, and don't rush to integrate formal academics into their days. Delay formal instruction until they show readiness and interest.
Learning in small bits and individually
No need to fill a child's day with academic learning, according to the Moores. Instead read the warning signs that you are overdoing it, when children get distracted, over-energetic or resist. Keep lesson times short, and expand with each child's readiness.
Children need to have one-to-one individualized tutoring to learn best. They felt this was especially vital for wiggly boys, but just as much for chatty girls. Learning large groups has provided evidence of failure. One-to-one instruction provides counterweight.
The Moores advanced developmental thinking for children, and they've freed parents of school or society-assigned "benchmarks" for success. Instead the Moores remind us that children work at their own readiness, and learning must be in sync with their readiness.
Learning, work and service combined
The Moores emphasize that academic learning only prepares children in part for the world. Children need to have an integrated and working home life.
In addition they emphasized external work, or - better yet - home-based businesses. They consider home-based businesses perfect meansfor filling out a child's vocational education, while preparing for vital character lessons. Hard work, attention to detail, organization all become valuable goals in a profit-driven business. Society waits too long to employ children, and parents can make up the difference with home-based businesses.
Service, at least one hour a week, should be integrated into every child's education. They learn vital skills while developing their heart and character, in addition to their capacity to empathize, which is key to emotional intelligence.
In short the Moores' legacy involves a way of educating children at home which provides for the broadest possible education, and not just academics.
* Delay formal schooling, and use play and domestic life for teaching opportunities.
* Introduce academic lessons gradually, and attuned to a child's developmental readiness.
* Limit learning times to short periods and teach one-to-one as a tutor for maximized learning.
* Integrate work, especially home-based business, to provide a fuller education at home.
* Encourage community service from a young age.
These are part of the "Moores' Formula" for education. They provide counterweight to the social pressures that all-to-many homeschool curriculum's mirror. Resist the pressure to let academics weigh too heavily in a young person's life. Give them the broadest education from the best advantage point - the home, according to the Moores. As the bumper sticker encourages: "When it comes to school, there's no place like home.
Ray And Dorothy Moore
The beginning of the modern homeschool method
In the late 1960's and the early 1970's Ray and Dorothy Moore began questioning and researching the how valid early childhood education really was. This led them to do research. Their research included requesting that other researchers who were working with them do independent studies and to review more than 8,000 studies about early childhood education and the mental development of children. This information concluded that introducing children to formal schooling before the age of 8 lacked in effectiveness and actually harmed children. The greatest toll was on boys because a lot of studies have already shown that they were not as mature as girls.
The Moores published these findings. In these publications they asserted that formal schooling damages young children in the areas of academics, social graces, mentality and physiology. Within these writings the Moores presented evidence that demonstrating that childhood problems (including juvenile delinquency, nearsightedness, behavioral problems and the increase in special education classes) result from the early enrollment of children in school.
Of course, there was a need for some children to be out of the home and in some sort of caring environment at an early age. These were mainly children who had special needs or were living in dire poverty. Nevertheless, there were critical long-term results produced by this in both social and emotional areas. An institutional environment cannot replace or correct these problems. In other words, the vast majority of children are a lot better off with mediocre parents than with the most gifted teachers in an institutional environment.
With all of this information in mind, the Moores became strong proponents for homeschooling. They published their first book in 1975 entitled "Better Late Than Early." From there they continued on to become strong, important advocates of homeschooling. They were also pioneers in their publishing of books such as "Home Grown Kids" in 1981, followed by "Home School Burnout" and "Minding Your Own Business."
There was a common theme that ran throughout their philosophy. This is their belief that homeschooling should not be an attempt to bring institutional schooling into the home. In other words, parents should not attempt to construct school in the home. Instead, they should involve all of the family members, even those who are very young, in industrious and gainful enterprises so that everyone benefits. In this way, everyone within the entire family can be educated through the experience of living.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Dear family, friends, and all the people we haven’t seen in the past year or more,
To borrow the words of a popular tune, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Well, the line
does need a little political modernizing. “Have” is a bit authoritative; “Merry” is archaic; “Little”
trivializes the deep meaning some folks attribute to the holiday; and “Christmas” is an
unacceptable religious amalgam of “Christ” and “Mass”, highly offensive to those of a secular
persuasion. So, if I may re-phrase, “Should you prefer, please enjoy an acceptable, meaningfully
adequate, x-gathering.” There, that should please everyone except the seasonal zealots.
The children wrangled more than usual this year over the suitable color coordination for the
family Christmas picture. Andrew suggested orange, as several of the kids do have orange
jumpsuits. Lizzy (age 11) resisted, whining that she didn’t have one yet. Pete (13) always
sensitive, reassured her, “Lizzy, I didn't get mine until I was twelve. Use one of James' (15); he
has extras.” As I look back now, I realize my Italian mother would have made a great parole
officer for the kids. She never let anyone finish a sentence.
Andrew (23) graduated college with a degree in engineering and is now fully integrated into the
adult economy. He is gainfully unemployed, though he is immersed in job training courses. Late
at night he practices in front of the mirror, “You want to super-size that? Second window,
please.” He can calculate the modal vector velocity of oncoming vehicles, along with the mean
exponential equivalent of fries per hamburg.
Hannah (22) has become quite comfortable with military life. When I asked her, “Why do you
carry a '45'?”, she responded, “Because they don’t make a '46'.” Recently she returned from a
tour in Iraq, where she grew so deaf to the relentless noise that she was eventually able to sleep
right through incoming mortar fire. While home at Thanksgiving, she shared a bedroom with
Liz, but complained that Liz's speaking decibel level woke her her up several times a night. This
was after Hannah moved her bunk into the shed.
Jon (20) is working full-time. For years as a homeschooler, when asked his favorite subject, Jon
was consistent: “Lunch”. The other day I asked him what he most liked about his new job. He
answered “Lunch”. It warms a parent's heart to see his child leaving behind the priorities of
Joanna (20) is now living on her own. It only took me $500 up front, with a balloon payment of
$2000, to get her to move out. Randi's big fear is that she'll try to return to the free food and
lodging of her childhood. I think I eliminated that possibility. We're getting an unlisted address.
Sarah (20) continues to pursue her nursing education. Recently I questioned her, “What kind of
patients do you best relate to?” She replied, “Those who are sleeping, anesthetized, or passed
out.” She always was our most people-connected child.
Sam (18) is very immersed in the care and breeding of animals, though I'm not sure he has the
natural aptitude for it. Nine of his ten last fish have drowned. To inspire himself, he keeps in his
room a poster of Ellie Mae Clampett surrounded by her critters. I asked him if I could have the
poster for my room, but Randi vetoed that. I said, “Hey, I'm just trying to enter Sam's world.” I
don't know what Randi has against animals.
James is going through his contrary, argumentative, I-know-everything-and-you-know-nothing
phase, which started at about age three. He's fifteen. Randi has tried everything to pull him out of
it; nothing has worked. Finally she sent him next door to run an errand, and we all moved away
while he was gone. The next day I told Randi that probably wasn't such a good idea. James will
probably just find us again. Jon always did.
Some things you never learn about your spouse until well into married life. For example, I never
realized that Randi grew up on a farm, as she is quite the expert on the housing of animals. Every
morning she stomps into Peter's bedroom and declares, “This is the worst pig sty I have ever
seen.” Last year, we discovered a Japanese soldier who didn't know World War II was over
living in there.
As a sensitive, highly trained emphatic psychotherapist, I sensed that Randi may have hurt
Peter’s delicately developing male adolescent self image, so I was quick to affirm him: “Pete,
when you were born, we threw away the mold. But it kept growing back.”
Mary is a fourteen year old adolescent girl—attitudinal, moody, “whatever.” But I repeat myself.
She talks 200 to 400 words a minute with gusts up to 800. Always trying to sneak around our
rules, she forgets about our 24 hour, whole house, eye-in-the-sky: Liz. “Father, I have some
information that might interest you. It concerns a certain girl whose name begins with `M`...
Aren’t you glad I live here?”
Speaking of Liz, age 11-- the youngest, the cutest, the epilogue of our parenting book-- Randi
and I have realized our need to crack down even further than we have already. Last week, we
made her wash and wax the Corvette. She was quite resistant, but, hey, she needs to learn to take
care of her things. Peter carped something about favoritism, but I informed him in no uncertain
terms, “It's only a 2008, and she won't be driving it until next year.” Sam was upset, too, because
he and Andrew have to share the monthly payments. I soothed him, “Don't worry. She'll
probably let you guys ride in it every so often.” Sometimes it gets frustrating listening to kids so
caught up in everything having to be “fair.”
And speaking of fair, my analyst and life coach both agree: I need to step back and let Randi
shoulder a little more of the domestic burden. So, I cut my three-day-a-week radio show from
two hours down to one, allowing me to sleep until Noon, for all the good it has done me. Randi
starts banging around downstairs at around 5 AM or so. I can't prove it, but I believe that she
deliberately slams the dryer door, runs the floor scrubber at full volume, and starts the mower
right under my window.
My fitness trainer and Pilates instructor strongly advise that several night a week I stay in a hotel.
Not just for the much needed rest, but to allow me to catch up on my reading. Last week I
finished two of my two favorite books, “The Sacrificial Husband” and “Giving Your Marriage
Your All.” In addition, I've been asked to be the cover story for “Modern Saint Today.” I told
them I would like them to mention Randi's name somewhere in the article, even it's toward the
end. And I reminded them, “It's Randi with an 'i'”. Call me an emotional schlep, but I just can't
stop looking out for her.
I do wish, though, that Randi would have a little more sensitivity to my own personal struggles
with aging. Last night she walked in on me admiring myself in the mirror, so I quickly informed
her, “The Doctor says I have the body of a 28 year old.” To which she replied, “Well, you'd
better give it back because you're getting it all wrinkled.”
Finally, in the spirit of Christmas giving, Wives, I am available to talk to any of your husbands
needing instructions in attaining my level of marital self-giving. Just contact Randi, and she'll set
it all up.
Well, a blessed Christmas to all.
Ray, Randy and the family