Because some children are ready to begin learning to read at the age of four to six, it has been accepted as the time to start all children. Children are put in class rooms where they are continually bombarded with information and tested as to their progress. It takes twelve long hard years to drive the information into them. The system has been arranged so that as soon as a child’s mental development will allow comprehension of even a small amount of the material, he is made responsible for it. The early maturing children have set the pace for the average. The later maturing children who are just as bright a year or two behind the others are always under a pile trying to keep up. In this competitive environment, they develop feelings of inadequacy. If he is not crushed by the sense of failure, the late maturing child may prove to be the brightest when he is grown. What they are doing is like moving into a house before it is finished. If you wait until the child’s mental faculties are amply developed, in the fertile environment, there will come a craving to learn. At such a time, teaching is easy.
For the sake of understanding, observe with me an imaginary experiment with two children of equal mental comprehension who will mature at the same time. The one in a traditional class room will be continually pushed to his limit. Before he is ready he will be made responsible for the information. Some of it he will comprehend right away much of it will just swim around his head until he matures to the point of comprehension. For the teacher it is sometimes like piling dry sand. It is a constant process of hammering it in — drill and test, drill and test. As he develops new mental rooms, the teacher waits outside to fill them with information. Most of what is thrown at him, he is not ready for, but they just keep slinging it in his direction until it sticks. The poor child is a professional student at six. He is filled with responsibilities and worries, with no mother to comfort him.
The other child in our experiment is at home at his mother’s feet feeling secure and protected. He is mentally developing at the same pace, but his information rooms are not being challenged or filled before they are complete. He will appear to be two or three years behind the other child in our experiment. At seven or eight this child will begin to learn the school material that our other child was learning at six. The difference is that where it only takes an hour a day to teach the eight-year-old, it took eight hours a day to teach the six-year-old. And, our eight-year-old homeschooler is loving every minute of it. He is not being burnt-out by pressure and competition. He is not struggling to learn. His hunger is just being fed. The homeschool parent who is willing to wait for the mental and emotional development to occur will experience far less frustration and anxiety. And, the child will have fun learning.
I have observed that by the time the homeschooled children are fourteen or fifteen they have far surpassed their traditionally schooled counterpart, and that with one-tenth the effort.
- Michael Pearl