Friday, January 13, 2012

Lap Learning

I lean forward to set my coffee on the coffee table.

"Ok, everyone ready? Here we go."

I crack open a bible, the same one I won at a church club for memorizing scripture when I was 10 years old.  From his perch on my lap, Peter leans forward and periodically slaps the page.  Jonah is across from me, zooming trucks around the coffee table and making them jump over my coffee.  Fiona has a notebook on her lap and is writing family names over and over again, the tip of her tongue sneaking out every now and then as she concentrates and whispers the letters to herself.

Its school time at our house.  I read through our scripture, history and geography lessons to a room of 5 children.  Jonah leans in to look at a map.  Ben answers the questions at the end of a history chapter and Dinah chimes in.  "Lincoln was a great man because he really cared about people and didn't want to be enemies with the South."  Right on. We move on to workbooks, and after lunch reconvene on the couch for read alouds.  Jonah sits a rapt attention while I read aloud from "All of a Kind Family," and afterward Ben and I discuss inflation (due to his amazement at the children in the book being able to buy a lot of candy for mere pennies!).

I am often asked what the little ones do while I school my older kids. Anxious moms worried their youngest children need a lot of educational hand holding ask me about curriculum, etc.  I have never used a curriculum with preschool children.  I am mostly of the mind that childhood is short enough as it is (and shrinking dramatically each year).  I want my littles to play, craft, and play some more and not worry about school.

These days, however, I'm noticing and realizing that these little ones are just as present in our learning as the older ones.  Every day, the younger children have a front row seat to whatever I am working on with the olders and, while they obviously do not get as much out of it as their older siblings, it is laying the groundwork for a life filled with learning.  By the time it is their turn, these concepts, ideas and stories will not be foreign to them, but familiar.  And some of it will just fall into place, a major benefit of this one-tapestry life where learning and playing and living all flow together, harmoniously.

Later in the afternoon, Jonah plays with his refrigerator magnet game while I prepare dinner. I hear him muttering letter sounds to himself, carefully lining up each one.  The girls play a game of Jenga on the floor in the dining  room and Ben cuddles Peter on the couch while reading a book on the California Gold Rush. Perhaps one of the  best parts of educating this way is showing these children that learning is not something that stops or starts at any given time, nor is it something found only in certain "educational" books or materials.    Its also not just for children of a certain age.  It is for all of us.  Its a way of life.  We're just so blessed that its the way of our life.  A gentle rhythm that grows us all in knowledge, curiosity and wisdom each and every day.

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  1. I love it and I miss you so very much. <3

  2. I am a quiet and regular reader of your blog...And I am tagging you for a meme!


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