Monday, April 29, 2013

Little learners

Too big for the baby bed ...

Seven is two and a half.

A toddler, yes. But more and more a preschooler. Every day she spots a letter or number and asks, "What does that say?" She pretends with her babies and animals and big brothers, and it is real pretend play-- the kind where things must be just right, where reality must be as closely mirrored as possible. Unless, of course, she's pretending to be something with no basis in reality whatsoever. In that case, anything goes.

Because she is, still, a toddler.

I'm so, so looking forward to homeschooling this child. Her personality, her passion, and her curiosity make me eye the Sonlight cores that have been patiently waiting in our school room with longing. To revisit so many old friends with a child already so hungry for the adventures that she finds between the pages of books will be a pleasure. She is the perfect candidate for a Sonight education. She loves to be read to, remembers every detail of every story, and asks questions about everything. Her enthusiasm, I know, will carry wiggly, wily, non-stop Mani along, and even inspire dreamy little Oli to pause and drink in what he can take of the tales.

I look at my three little ones and imagine the afternoon when Seven turns to Mani and says, "Let's play New Toes for Tia." Then I picture the day I realize that Reuven knows all the countries of Eastern Europe but cannot tie his shoes, or that Oli learns about the Civil War just because it was part of a story we read together as a family.

I look ahead and look backward at the same time. Haven't I been here before? Oh, yes, I have. Those memories are, I think, what makes the anticipation of the coming season that much sweeter. The days of Logan fiddling with Legos while I read The Great Wheel, the afternoons where Jo poked grass seeds into pots of squishy soil, the mornings with Atticus on my lap as we paged through the Egermeier Bible .... those were precious times that I hold dear to my heart-- and times that have set the stage for all of the things that have come after. The fast-forward track to midwifery. The love of music. The passion for science. The desire to pilot planes.

Mani will be five in June, Seven is two and a half, Oli six. Reuven is still a four month-old nursling. I remember so well the magic of these days-- when it was Jo who was five, and Atticus and Logan were sweet little tagalongs at three and one. I remember the idyll of those first read-alouds, the stress of worrying over whether or not I was neglecting my baby by spending so much time aiming above his head, the juggling of adding in more purposeful learning activities alongside laundry and cooking and check-ups at the doctor. I recall the rush of saying it out loud: "We're homeschooling." "She's homeschooled." "Actually, we homeschool." 

They were heady days, to be sure.

This time around, I am not incorporating something new into our family routine. Oli, Mani, and Seven have enjoyed "table time" since they were old enough to occupy the bouncy seat that has been perpetually perched on the end of our dining room table for the last 5 years or so. They have sung Bible songs nearly every weekday morning since they could manage to lisp, "Da B-Y-G-I'm me!" (Mani's first attempts at "The B-I-B-L-E."). They adore story time, be it with silly rhyming tales or coffee-table spreads of African lions. They paint, they model with wax, they look forward to sunny days when they can be rabbits and foxes on the back hill.

So, really, they're already homeschooled--by my definition at least.  But soon, they'll be ready for something entirely new to them. Something that won't feel like "school" at all, but which will expand their repertoire of imagination, excite them with glimpses into the bigger world, and ignite in them a greater love of God's creation.

I am thrilled to throw open the doors yet again for a new set of learners, even as I help my older kids find their way towards their callings. Ah, what beautifully full days!


Joyfulness said...

What a blessing it is to me to hear your enthusiasm. When I first started homeschooling with my now 11 year old, I thought I'd be bored revisiting books with his siblings later. So thankful I was wrong!

Stephani said...

Aw I'm starting round 2 as well! So sweet!