Attention, parents of children under the age of 8:
Compulsory attendance in the state of WA does not attach until your child(ren) turn 8. Even if you plan to send them to school, you do not have to darken that door until they turn 8. You do not have to “do school” with your under-8yo. Every last bit of good science we have points to waiting being far better than starting early.
Once they turn 8, you have 58,400 hours to cover 10,000 hours of “school” that the law says you need to spend on the 11 subjects. FIFTY EIGHT THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED HOURS over which to cover a measly 10K.
I know you’re freaking out, thinking about how behind your four year old is getting. And I know you’re beating your head against a wall, trying to make h** sit and “do school” so when Aunt Mildred (I’m going come down there and smack your aunt for this — someone better hold me back before I throat punch Aunt Mildred) quizzes your wee one on what you’re doing “for school,” you don’t feel like some kind of lackadaisical, neglectful, homeschool mom failure.
You can’t be a homeschooling failure. You can’t even homeschool until they’re 8 in our state. EIGHT. Stop making yourself and your children crazy with formal academics for tots.
Bake together. Go to the park. Explore your world. Build some stuff — or just nail some stuff into the backyard trees. Read together. Build a love for each other and a love of learning — the book work can wait. Find your rhythm and find each other — the academics can wait. Let your children find their own pace, and I swear to you — I swear on a stack of National Geographics, some aging Encyclopedias, and a holy book of your choice — I swear to you they’ll amaze you.
In the mean time, smile sweetly at Aunt Mildred, show her the law, show her the research — send her to me and I’ll set her straight.
~Jen Garrison Stuber, Washington Homeschool Organization Advocacy Chair