It used to be referred to as “Mommy School”. That is what Andy used to call it. He loved workbooks and extra reading. We loved to visit museums, art galleries, and book stores. This was when he was five or six. He would tell his teacher all about Mommy School.
But time found us getting busier and I with three little ones and Mommy School was limited. When after a year of high school and Andy struggling out of lack of interest I decided to homeschool all three of them. We visited the teacher supply store and went crazy buying workbooks and educational toys and various items like stickers. (Gosh, who doesn’t like stickers?)
Andy was fifteen, Shyanne was twelve, and Emily was eleven so their interests and levels were different so as we made our way through we became more of “unschoolers”. Unschooling is when each kid devours every topic they love, whether it be cooking or pirates. In each topic they learn valuable skills such as reading, writing, spelling, history, science, and math. They also have time to indulge in arts and music. Because they were home with us they also learned what we deemed important, not the slanted school system’s ideas. They learned about herbalism, animals, agriculture, our ideas on spirituality and they were left to fill in the blanks for themselves. They were able to make their own paths with a well rounded base.
Andy went off to college and the girls felt amiss. They wanted to try the small high school in town. Shyanne, my socialite, loved it, thrived in it, and graduated. Emily went back briefly but found herself unhappy in the school system and then learned she was with child so she reverted back to homeschooling pretty quickly. I enjoyed homeschooling my children and I believe they are intelligent adults that were more realistic about the world out there then children just graduating from traditional high school.
Now, I have my first grandchild here four days a week while mom and dad work. It is my greatest honor and profound joy. In many cultures the grandmother is put in charge of the children’s well being, growth, and education. These grandmothers hold the wisdom of half a life or more and tend to have more patience. Maryjane is a special child. When she was six months old we attended the funeral of Shyanne’s best friend who had committed suicide and the depth of sorrow was intense. As I would approach people Maryjane would put her hand on their face as if she were trying to comfort.
She is a bit of a wild child, the child that usually comes last, the one that has so much life bubbling forth that her parents want a nap! She is also highly intuitive. She has the same healing gifts that run through my family. It is obvious even though she is only two years old. She eats wild herbs and helps me make medicine. She comforts those that are upset. But she “knows” things too. We were to meet Emily and Maryjane at the coffee shop the other day. Maryjane started to yell, “Pa! Pa!”
“Grammie and Pa aren’t here yet,” Emily replied. About a minute later we pulled into the turning lane to get into the parking lot. Emily was a little shocked.
“If you send her to school they will squash this little girl’s spirit,” I lamented.
“I wasn’t planning on sending her to school.”
Oh, happy day. Emily and I will be homeschooling that amazing child. Four days a week (depending on the kids’ schedules) we will be having the raucous event called “Grammie School”.
Daydreams of workbooks and drawing pads and finely sharpened pencils danced in my head then I realized that I am already homeschooling. Learning doesn’t begin at age four and end at eighteen or twenty-two. We have already begun.
Here are five ways to teach a little one:
- Count- everything I hand the baby I count. Here are some mullein flowers to put in the pot. One, two, three, four, five…She now tells people she is five. She can’t put them in order, but she can randomly sing, “one, five, nine, three, six…”
- Spell- Dad, d-a-d, is on his way! I don’t spell everything we say, I would annoy myself, but she is really in tune to simple words. Pa, p-a, Mom, m-o-m. She has no idea what we are talking about yet but the letters stick in her little head. She sure surprised her mom by writing D-A-D on her arm!
- Point out everything. Birds, trees, flowers, dogs, coffee, books, people, cars, rain, everything. These babies are sponges and they will remember all of these things in detail. It is terribly sad to me that so many parents I see just set their kids in a corner and ignore them. They just “get through” until the next stage. Babies being lugged around in car seats instead of being held. Perhaps it is a grandmother’s perspective to see that children grow quickly and time is so precious. These little ones cannot be all they aspire to without nearly constant attention and guidance.
- Teach them about animals. Teach them not to be afraid of animals. The kids used to have friends come over to the house that were terrified of our cats! A child that knows animals, speaks to animals, is gentle with animals, and who is well versed in the various kinds of animals naturally grows to be a more compassionate and gentle child and adult.
- Read- read, read, read! Read labels, books, magazines, signs, and fill the child’s head full of adventures and stories. Give them a love for reading early. Visit the library, read to them on your lap, just read. This is special time for the child and for you and the libraries will forever hold a place in that child’s heart.
There are many more things, manners, cooking, chores, things that we have Maryjane do as well, but the above five are easy and effective ways to homeschool whether one chooses to send their child to school or not. There is always the opportunity to reach out to a child and make a difference in their self-esteem and in their learning.