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Me and the Moores: What Peaked my Interest in Homeschooling

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 19, 2010


        Way back in 1990, when my oldest was two, I heard Dr. Raymond Moore talk about homeschooling on the radio show,   Focus on the Family.  That single show started our family down a path to a major lifestyle decision–homeschooling. 

        Before my son was born, I was a huge supporter of institutional preschools.  I planned to keep teaching after our first was born.  I thought I’d find a preschool/daycare situation where I could take my baby to work with me…I was also considering starting my own home daycare.  But once I held my son in my arms, I saw preschool/daycare in an entirely new light.   I realized how much time it takes to care for a baby.   I remembered the preschoolers I worked with and saw them through new eyes…the eyes of a mother.  I realized that most of the children I worked with were lost, confused, and hungry for love and attention.  I knew I wanted better for my little boy.

        After hearing that radio show, I knew in my heart that the solution for us was homeschooling.  I’d already realized that I enjoyed the company of my then 2 year old way too much to ever send him away to preschool, but before the show I had never thought about homeschooling him.  I don’t know if I’d even heard of homeschooling.  

        I started to research homeschooling right away.  The first thing I did was to check out the book, Homegrown Kids from the library (Dr. Moore’s book).  I didn’t agree with everything in the book, but my background in Child Development told me that his emphasis on readiness and natural learning was right on the mark.  

        Dr. Raymond Moore is considered to be the “father” of the homeschool movement, and rightly so. The Moores have been at the forefront of the homeschooling movement since the early 1980’s.  The Moores emphasize developmental readiness, and introduced the idea of an “Integrated Maturity Level” or IML.   The IML includes our children’s cognitive, physical (including eye sight, eye-hand coordination, small muscle strength, and general coordination), and social maturity, which often doesn’t “come together” until age 8-10; therefore, the Moores suggest that children should learn in natural ways and not be forced into formal academic lessons until that time.   The Moore Formula encourages us to provide our children with approximately equal amounts of 1) manual work (think, life-skills!), 2) service (in the home or the community), and 3) “school” or study time (for young children, reading aloud and natural learning.)  I would add play to the list, especially for younger children. 

        Although the Moore’s method is often called “delayed learning”, it is anything but.  As I stated in my post, Preschool Myths, waiting for readiness is not the same as withholding learning.  It’s very different from un-schooling, as well.  The Moore’s advocate neither pushing children nor holding them back; they simply discourage “formal” or workbook/textbook type learning early on.  Instead, children learn through loving, consistent care and conversation (relationship),  a regular routine, lots of reading aloud, unit studies (delight directed), real life/hands-on experiences, games and oral work, and often through starting their own home business or helping their parents with theirs (a large component of their method.) Obviously the Moores have had a huge influence on me, since I am definitely a proponent of relationship, routine, readiness, reading aloud, and unit studies!

        The Moore Formula meshes well with many other methods, including Charlotte Mason (lots of lit; few if any textbooks, short lessons, oral work, etc) unit studies (lots of books and hands on/life experiences) and the Beechick method (again, lots of books and reading aloud, readiness, life experiences; emphasis on correct dating of early history), and even Montessori (life skills, hands-on activities, using real, adult-sized tools versus toys.)   

         Personally, I don’t go quite as far as the Moores do when it comes to delaying formal academics…Dr. Moore would have us wait for any type of formal academic lessons until our children are 8 years old.  Instead, I believe a more balanced approach is in order.  Having had an early reader (reading well at age 5-6) and a later reader (not reading much at all until age 10), I believe I see both sides of the issue.  I do believe in planning short, play-based lessons for the early years, but I believe they should be done carefully, with readiness and interest in mind.  Even so, I do see the good of the Moore Formula and I think their research is very comforting to parents of young children.  I recommend that parents of preschoolers and Kindergarteners (especially) read Home Grown Kids–if for no other reason than to help them relax and back off from an emphasis on formal academics during the preschool and early elementary years.  

        Reading Home Grown Kids helped me let my young children be young children, without worrying about a check-list of “facts” and “skills” they should conquer by age 4 or 5.  Their research held me together when my second born was struggling with reading.  The Moores are right–delayed readers do just as well or better than children who learn early (and I might add, there is not one study that shows that learning to read early is beneficial in the long run.)  My daughter went from struggling to read the simplest books (Boxcar children–at age 10) to reading Lord of the Rings so fast it made my head spin.  She now holds our family record for the most books read in one year, and she wants to be a Christian fiction writer. She never goes anywhere without a notebook, and she loves to read.

        I guess my point is, if you haven’t read Home Grown Kids, it’s worth your time.  If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the Moore’s developmental research, read Better Late Than Early, too.  The book, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook shows how the formula works in real families.

        To find out more about the Moore Formula, check out these links:

Read explanations of the Moore Formula HERE

Read articles about using the Moore Formula HERE

Read the article, Learning How to Think by the Moores (great ideas, except for the line about “the family democracy”; I don’t know about you, but our family is NOT a democracy!) 

Read the article, Unschooling and the Moore Method, by Dorothy Moore HERE.    

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “Me and the Moores: What Peaked my Interest in Homeschooling”

  1. Amy Rosa said

    Susan,
    I heard that rebroadcasted right as we were praying about HS as well. It was quite instrumental in my husband agreeing to it. He works for a public school system.Thanks for sharing
    amy rosa

    • Isn’t that neat~I think a lot of homeschoolers got their start thanks to the Moores!
      Their book, Homegrown Kids, along with the Three R’s (Beechick) and the Clarkson’s Wholehearted Child have become so much a part of my thoughts that I hardly know which thoughts are mine and which are theirs!
      ~Susan

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