Oh dear, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, hasn’t it?
So much has happened too, so many interesting adventures and changes and cute little moments. I’ve been tending to post little blurbs on Facebook, or on any of the yahoogroups I’m a part of, rather than properly write things up for the blog. I should try to remedy that. Not that there’s anything wrong with Facebook or Yahoogroups… those are more immediate. This has a more… permanent feeling about it.
All I’m going to mention today is about how Pomme is doing. I’ve mentioned before about how I learned from my mistakes with Flipper in regards to early academics. To quote myself:
I am a staunch and vocal advocate of letting preschoolers PLAY to learn, that there is no rush for academics, that forcing early academics on children not yet ready for them causes much more harm than good.
I have approached Pomme’s preschool years with the same amount of pride and certainty of the correctness of my beliefs that I used to have in regards to turning Flipper into ‘My Little Prodigy’.
But the universe just isn’t that simple, is it? Pomme has turned out to be the complete opposite of her brother, a child who at only 3.5 years old adores and demands worksheets, math lessons, and just more and more academics.
I’ve been greatly informed by Waldorf philosophies this past year, and I know that the ‘pure’ Waldorf approach to a precocious preschooler is still to not provide them with academics. The belief is that their precociousness is a sign of an unbalance that must be corrected for; that they still need to be in their dream world until age 7 in order to be healthy.
I don’t agree with this 100%. But I do let it inform my decisions. We make sure that Pomme still has LOTS of creative play time. While we are indeed doing “work,” it takes a very small part of her day. Most of her day is still off in her own fascinating little world. She even brings her imaginary friends with her to “school,” and helps to teach them what she herself is learning about. She still spends her time building barnyards out of blocks, turning her playsilks into dresses, running around barefoot in the backyard, digging in the sandbox and making mud pies.
But when I do ask her “would you like to do school now?” her response is almost always a resounding “YES!” In fact, the other day, we sat down to do what was really the first time I’d ever really pulled up a structured work day for her. More than just an informal math lesson, more than just a match-the-numbers worksheet or two. I had a whole program laid out: Cuisenaire rods work; reading practice; TBB Seasons unit study activities; and a RightStart math lesson. I was honestly just curious to see what would happen.
What happened: She did everything, then demanded more. I had printed out enough of the TBB activities to last most of the week, but by the end of our school time that one day I only had 2 sheets left. She had traced letters, tallied survey results, made a bar graph, learned about temperature and coloured in thermometers, sorted seasonal activities, learned about what trees need to grow, and completed most of a “colour by shapes” picture.
It was three hours since we had started before she showed signs of slowing down.
And we weren’t finished yet. When it was bedtime, she saw her unfinished picture and declared she wanted to finish it. I let her do a few more shapes, but it was soon apparent that she was being so deliberate and careful with it (she’s extremely careful to colour properly, and within the lines), that we’d be up all night if I really let her finish it. She wasn’t happy, but I told her she could get right back to it the next morning.
That night, she stayed in her room all night (which is about 50/50 these days). I peeked in on her in the morning just as she was starting to wake up. A few minutes later, I checked again… and she had set herself up at her little table, and was dutifully colouring her picture. She didn’t come out until she was finished.
I believe that she has recently passed over another of those little bumps of development, something has “clicked”. Three weeks ago, she could not independently write most letters, but loved to trace them. Suddenly, a few days ago, she started writing letters by herself, correctly, that she had never even been shown how to write… had never traced.
Two days ago, we had started a RightStart math lesson but didn’t have time to finish it. So yesterday, we reviewed the first part of the lesson then did the rest of it. She wanted more. We did the entire next lesson. She wanted more! We did the first part of the next lesson before she decided it was enough!
Today, we started Meet the Masters, a great art program. We’re trying the age 5-7 program for her, I think she’ll be able to manage it. And since Flipper is doing the same program but at the older level, we’ll be able to do the actual projects together — there are modifications for the different age levels but it’s a similar project.
There are three parts to each lesson. An interactive slide show online with me narrating the script. Then a ‘worksheet’ to learn about a certain art concept related to the current artist. Then the project itself. These can be done all in one day or spread over a few days. The whole lesson start to finish could be an hour to three hours.
She did all three parts today for the first lesson. Then she wanted to do the next one right away! It wasn’t possible, unfortunately, since they were about to head to grandma’s for the afternoon.
I’m just flabbergasted. And excited. Could she really be this easy? But I’m also keeping my feet on the ground, and staying cautious. I still have to be careful not to overdo it (since I know I have the tendency), and I have to realize that this might be temporary! She could very likely go through phases where she does not want to “do school” at all, and I need to be prepared to respect that!
In the meantime, though, I’m going to enjoy the ride.