AlfieEsmeLearningStay At Home Dad
Monday, 30 December 2013
I am by nature a thinker. I don't mean to say that Keith isn't, I mean that for him, thinking a means an end whereas for me it is also a hobby.
You may recall I recently went on a mission to get Esme another copy of The Gingerbread Man for Christmas and faced with reading it over and does that gingerbread man NEVER LEARN ... either my brain was going to give or I needed something to make the process worthwhile.
I did what most modern parents do and got me some Google action and oh my LORD am I in geek heaven with the site I found.
Teaching Children Philosophy is an incredible resource that has pages covering different books including my new most hated fairy tale.
I love that is suggests different topics and themes for discussion and one of the ones it mentions in this context is that of ownership: Does the gingerbread man belong to the Old Lady (et al) because she made him and does that therefore mean he should shut up and get eaten?
I wasn't sure an abstract conversation about ownership was quite where Esme is yet but my synapses got firing and my brain had spun into a topic I am really trying to push with the older two at the moment – bodily autonomy.
It may be a simplistic view – but it is my view - that one of my jobs in raising future adults who respect their own and their prospective partner's bodies is to teach them that simply put, no means no. I find myself using an inordinate amount of time and energy at the moment explaining to one or the other of them that if they don't like someone touching them, that have the absolute right to tell them to stop, and that if someone does tell you to stop, it happens NOW. No questions asked.
Esme is currently enjoying testing this theory by clamping her legs together when you try to put a new nappy on her until you ask her permission (and even then it's 50/50) but it's all part of the process, and a healthy power for her to be exploring.
Anyway, this book, this BLOODY book.
If anyone doubts that starting these conversations is worthwhile I really suggest you try it because I was blown away by what happened.
Me: Bla, bla, gingerbread man ran, bla, bla come back little gingerbread man, etc, etc, shoot me now … So what do you think Esme? Should the little gingerbread man have stayed and let the little old lady eat him?
Me: Really? Why do you think that?
Esme: Because no like it!!
Me, just about stifling a “HOLY SHIT!!”: What do you mean? He didn't want to be eaten?
Me: So if he didn't want the little old lady to eat him it was OK for him to leave?
Esme: Yes, ginnerman run way.
Me pushing my luck: So do you think the little old lady owns the gingerbread man?
Esme: …............................ you read.
OK so teaching 101, know when to STFU, I get it, but holy smokes Batman, she's only gone and heard what I've been banging on about for the last few months!! It's sunk in, not just in that glazed “shut up already” look I get from them sometimes, but really sunk it to the point that Esme at the tender age of just 2 is applying those principles to other situations and stories.
In my dreamy utopian parent bubble, I would love to think that we are raising children who do more than just absorb. In fact, since we are still very much looking at homeschooling as an option for the children, I find myself trying to crowbar in learning opportunities whenever I can.
Don't worry, I just heard myself then and I did a little dry heave as well. After I publish this I'm going to go and flush my own head down the toilet.
I don't mean I try and turn every activity into a formal lesson because that would make me the most boring mum in the world and I just got a new tattoo so we know that can't be true, I mean one of the things I love about homeschooling, and unschooling in particular is that you are walking with your children through their curosity.
Alfie is currently big into dinosaurs which led to he and Keith picking up a vintage sticker album from the local Op Shop (that's Kiwi for Charity Shop by the way. You're welcome) which they read most night before bed. Alfie's favourite dinosaur is the Toystaurus Rex (that took me a few cups of tea to work out) but he also loves ole Brachio as well because of the long necks.
Right there are chances to talk about why animals have different teeth when they eat different things and also to think of modern day animals who might share the same features for the same reasons. That one might have been helped by having fed the giraffes at the zoo.
For me it's not about the knowledge, it's about the process of collecting it. It's about teaching the children to ask questions of everything around them.