My first“homeschool purchase” for our own children twenty-eight years ago was the complete set of audios of “Your Story Hour”—Bible, true life, character, and history stories of the “Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue” venue. I remember clearly running my fingers over the cassette holders, smelling them, and being so happy to have such a quality product to help me teach Joshua. He, on the other hand, was more interested in playing in the box that they came in. Then along came Kayla, one of the smartest little girls I had ever seen, yet she couldn’t write her name for years and years. Both Joshua and Kayla showed me right away what their learning styles were—those audio cassettes, along with daily lengthy read aloud sessions with Mom, were their avenues for learning for many years, for they could learn nearly anything (except how to write their names!) by listening.
Along came our third child, and if it didn’t have pictures and she couldn’t snuggle close, her learning didn’t seem to transpire so easily. (The exception to this is when we began getting Ken Ham audios. She was mesmerized by his voice and wanted to listen to him every day!) Cami was anything but an audio learner. She loved workbooks and activities—the more, the better.
We understood early on that we were homeschooling in order to provide the kind of education that we wanted for our children—and the kind that each child needed. Thus, we learned about learning styles and purchased materials accordingly. We used multi-sensory materials and definitely had our non-auditory learners still listen, but focused on their learning styles in the areas of math and reading, especially. There is a wealth of information out there about the three primary learning styles (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic), as well as how to determine how your child learns best.
Along with learning styles, we also learned early on—through my elementary education studies, and then later from Dr. Raymond Moore’s (one of the pioneers of the Christian homeschooling movement)—that readiness does not come at the same time for all children, nor for each gender. We learned about a phenomenon then called “Integrated Maturity Level”—the level at which all comes together for a child and he or she is ready for more formal instruction. This often takes place between the ages of seven and ten. And we set out to wait on it for each of our children---in an effort to make learning easier and to develop a love for learning and homeschooling in them. Until the time of readiness for formal learning arrived for each child, we taught informally, all of the time. And our kids loved school and loved learning. We even adjusted our school to allow for late bloomers without labels: kindergarten began when a child was six years old by September first; first grade began when a child was seven years old by September first. No pressure—on the children or on me.
It was an absolutely blissful way to teach young children. (It also allowed us to focus on obedience and character in those who needed a little more time!) The research is out there! Sure, some kids learn to read at ages four, five, or six. I think that would be fun—I’ve just never experienced it. And that is fine. Every child is different—and remember, that is one reason we chose this approach to education. The point isn’t to wait and wait for formal education. The point is to do what is best for each child in your family.
(For more information about readiness to learn to read, check out our audios, including, “Beginning Reading Instruction.” For more information about readiness for learning in general, start with Dr. Raymond Moore’s book, Better Late Than Early.)