Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Careful What You Teach, Children Will Learn

Jack is getting to the age where I have to decide what schooling I am comfortable putting him in: preschool, public school, private school, or maybe even home school? I am a smart cookie, but I don't know if I have the patience to teach my children for their academic pursuits. I am related to no less than 10 teachers—you know I have mad love for those who go into that profession. But I am leaning towards letting the teachers teach Jack.

That being said, if you want to know more about homeschooling than I know, you may want to check out the Pioneer Woman's Homeschooling. Ree Drummond is a trusted name in photography and food around my house, so I believe that she can lead you to the homeschooling light.

For right now, I am simply teaching Jack things to prepare him for public school and interpersonal interaction. My curriculum is based solely on my wits—if I think of it, I will teach it to him. I understand that may leave a few gaps academically, but I try extremely hard to think of everything he will need without stressing myself out. He is a naturally curious kid, which makes him a willing student. Here are a few things he is into right now.

Manners have been a top priority of mine. My friend Molly recently shared some advice she received when she was pregnant with her twins: "You'll always love your children. But, you want to raise children that other people love." I absolutely love that notion and agree with it wholeheartedly. That is why I drill Jack on the "magic words" and being kind, as well as showing through example how to treat people well. Not to brag, but when a two-year-old says, "Thank you for having us. And thank you for the food!" without prompting, you know you have achieved your goals manners-wise.

Opposites are Jacko's weakness right now; he loves grouping similar things together, so why would you even want to know what the opposites are? I have explained several times what an opposite is and how he can feel really smart for knowing them. Even toddlers like to feel smart! For right now, I am using simple objects and repetitive drills. An example would sound like: "Jack, this ice is cold. What is the opposite of cold? Hot, like the stove!" The whole endeavor is a work in progress.

My cousin Cari worked with addicts' children in a rehab facility, and she has told me several identifiers of what makes a child developmentally sound at each age. I have used those suggestions as benchmarks for what I teach Jacko. I recall Cari telling me that many pre-k kids she taught knew numbers, but could not grasp that you could use them to count objects. I make Jack count everything; not in a drill sergeant way, but rather in a challenging game way.

We also read to Jack like crazy. My parents have a pin next to their land line that reminds them to read at least 20 minutes a day to their children; I use that parameter to gauge how well I am doing in that regard. At the library, Jacko is extremely involved in choosing his own books, though lately I have been steering him to choose at least one alphabet book. He recently chose "Dr. Seuss' ABC," which was a favorite of mine as a kid. He loved the book, which rocks because I can still quote it from my childhood.

Names/Pertinent Info
At his two-year-old well child appointment, my doctor told Jacko that he needed to learn mommy and daddy's names just in case he got lost. I took that to heart and he has come to know all about our aliases, Holly and Caleb Flanagan. I believe that he has transferred that desire to know our names into wanting to know everything's name. A visit to the dinosaur museum turns into me reading all of the impossible-to-say names, a game of Star Wars consists of him asking who each character is, and we constantly talk about our family members' names while driving in the car.

I have also taught him the name of the city we live in. However, he has taken that to Jane Austen levels and decided that our apartment is named Riverton. Sometimes he asks me if we can go to "Riverton" when we are out shopping or playing in the town of Riverton; it took me forever to realize that he wanted to go back home. Though our estate isn't as sprawling as Pemberley, I am glad that he enjoys being home. So, even I will call our house Riverton sometimes. It's fun.

I have sent myself up a creek without a paddle by speaking so well of going to school. Jacko is now asking when he can go to school, and I don't mean infrequently. He will find loopholes in my explanations on why we need to wait; he has told me that Grandpa (my dad) and Aunt Julie (my sister) are teachers, so he can just go to their schools. He's trying to subvert the public school system by sneaking onto playgrounds and pretending to be an older kid.

What I am trying to say is: be careful what you teach, because children will want to learn.


  1. for the longest time after gage learned my real name, he would call me by it.

  2. Love it! You are a fantastic mom, Miss Holly!