Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The power of example

Baby Bop did the cutest thing yesterday.

He noticed that I had a small flag on a shelf near my desk. He asked to play with it and since I was working on the computer and hoped that he would leave me alone for a few minutes, I let him have it.

A few minutes later, I happened to glance up and saw him in the next room holding the flag in one hand with his other hand over his heart, pretending to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I use the word pretend, since Baby Bop has a profound speech delay and doesn't yet talk intelligibly.

Baby Bop was imitating the flag ceremony that takes place every week at our homeschool co-op group. Our co-op includes many boy scouts who have been trained in the proper handling and formal presentation of our country's flag.

This incident got me thinking about a conversation I had with Baby Bop's speech therapist that same morning. She urged me (very politely and earnestly) to consider sending Baby Bop to kindergarten instead of homeschooling because the interaction with 30 peers could help his speech delay.

I understand her point of view. Baby Bop's language skills improved more rapidly during the five weeks we cared for two foster children the same age as Baby Bop.

However, what she doesn't understand is how dependent Baby Bop is upon the example of those around him. He imitates literally everything he sees which is typical of young children, let alone those with his type of neurological challenges.

Our goal is to keep good examples around him while we train his developing brain to sift what he sees. That kind of brain development, even in "normal" children, generally doesn't emerge until the age of 8 or older.

All day kindergarten with 30 children in a classroom with one teacher and a teacher's aide will not provide the kind of examples we can provide with homeschooling.

The families with whom we associate train their children well and do not allow inappropriate behavior to continue unchecked. (No, the children are not perfect, but the parents are vigilant.) We have the benefit of mature older children modeling behavior for the younger children to follow. We have the benefit of a good parent/child ratio.

So, we plan to give kindergarten a pass.

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Eric Holcombe said...

Whoever walks with the wise will become wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Rose said...

Tsk, tsk. Didn't you know that socializing only counts if it is in a gaggle of same-aged peers?
I'm a speech pathologist....and I homeschool my kids.