Friday, October 15, 2010

How Much Schooling is too Much?

Manchester Literature Festival got underway yesterday and there are a few events I will be attending with my girlfriend and my son over the weekend. I love it when this comes around :) So that's certainly how some of my time will be spent this weekend.

My son is excited to listen to some poets perform. He's taken a real shine to writing - not just poetry, but stories and letters and pretty much anything. He's 6 and he would rather be writing his own stories than acting them out with Action Men. I was worried about this for a while... wondered whether it was usual that a child so young would spend so much time with a pen in his hand. But then my Mother's friend who I still see from time to time reminded me that I was exactly the same and, I quote, "It did you no harm. The boy will do with his play time whatever he wants to do with it." So I let him be.

He'll ask me to spell the words he can't spell yet and ask me to exlpain how to say somthing in a "good way," sometimes, as you woudl expect for a child of his age. But his general literacy is much, much higher than the average of children in his age group. He does well at school.

One issue we are having with him at the moment, though is the fact that he is reluctant to continue to learn Russian. His Mother was Russian and prior to him moving to the UK a couple of years ago, it was his first language. Being so young though he has now mastered English to the same standard. His written English actually far exceeds the standard of his written Russian.

His Mother and I both wanted him to continue to learn Russian as a priority. I studied languages myself and so I know how beneficial it can be to have them. My Mother was Argentine and I wa born and raised in the UK. So I am fortunate enough to have Spanish and English as first languages. But I also studied French and German and studying when you start beyond the age of 11 is so much harder than learning as a young child is. So we kept his studies in Russian up. His Mother only ever spoke to him in Russian (unless they were in a group with non-Russian speakers) and despite the fact that he started responding to her Russian in English, she maintained it. It worked. He still speaks Russian as well as you would expect.

After his Mother died, he started taking Russian lessons on top of his schooling. It means long huors for him on the day of his lesson though and it's a lot for a boy of his age. So on days when he was said, "I really don't want to go, Dad," I've tried to understand and have let him off a couple. But now he says he does't want to go at all. Full stop.

"Dad," he told me, "I don't want to do that anymore. DO I have to?"

I decided to take some time to consider this. One the one hand, I know he is six and too much schooling is bad for him to be honest. He has to have time to do the things he likes - writing his stories, watching (limited amounts of) TV and playing sports. But I don't want him to forget his heritage or the language that came with it.

I think I am going to look into the fun ways in which I could potentially have him learn from home and see if that's an option.

But honestly, he's such a good child and a joy to have.

My life is so full because of him :)

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