Children are Dreamers
Anyone who knows me – at least if you are on any of the homeschooling groups I belong to – know that lately I’ve been “freaking out” about how I’m doing with the girls schooling. Worrying . . . worrying . . . worrying . . . Had my parents known me better when I was born, they would have made my middle name “worry”.
I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting – and reading a lot about different homeschooling topics – it has been beneficial but sometimes it can also cause “panic” because of what some people say to expect, etc. I’ve also been taking time to sit back and watch the girls and reflect on how far they have progressed so far. I have realized that I don’t give myself or the girls as much credit as we probably deserve. They really have grown and learned a lot, masha’Allah.
This morning I sat down to make some cards to reinforce alphabet recognition and word recognition (more about that in a later post – when it is complete, insha’Allah). While I was working, my oldest came and sat beside me and started to draw. It was amazing – she had a story about every line she drew and any line she did not. Oh, the tree branch got broken in a storm, so I did not draw it. Oh, I drew this flower here because my sister and I grew it for you Mommy. She is so full of stories, masha’Allah.
When she was finished she asked for an index card. I had no idea what to expect but thought that perhaps she was going to cut out her drawing and paste it onto the card. I was surprised when she finished because she showed me an airplane that she had made by herself – cutting it out from the card and pasting all by herself. The amazing thing for me is because this was completely self-directed work. I did not suggest to make something in particular – she took it upon herself to decide what she wanted to make and did it all by herself.
My youngest woke up this morning and despite our warning that “this puzzle is too hard for you” – she is adamant that SHE WILL DO her sister’s puzzle. We just bought my oldest some new puzzles (63 pieces) because I noticed that her sister was doing the puzzles I left out for her to play with and she wasn’t having any difficulty – I figured it was time for a step up. Well, my oldest is doing pretty good at these puzzles – I was mostly amazed that she stayed at it until she finished the puzzle because she usually doesn’t stick with something for long. However, to my amazement, my youngest right now has an almost complete puzzle before her that she has done all by herself! For some reason, she is able to see the picture better than her sister is able to, masha’Allah. It’s just amazing to me to see them blossoming right before your eyes!
One of the things that has been interesting watching the girls grow up is their desire to dream and be imaginative. I see a lot of qualities (good and bad) from myself in them, masha’Allah but this one is FUN. When my oldest was younger, I tried to buy her all those new-fangled gadgets that they claim helps children learn. Boy, what a waste of money and effort. She and her sister never enjoyed those kind of toys. Instead, they like toys that give them a wide variety of play options – blocks, legos, etc. I also wasted my money on a dollhouse – only to find that they preferred to imagine a great castle or a house (on the couch or in a corner of the room) and completely neglected to use the dollhouse.
The funny thing is – one thing that they both love doing (this only started after my younger one came along) – they love to play with their hands and feet. No, I don’t mean playing footsie – but they actually like to pretend that their hands and feet are people. I guess this all started when we did finger plays together. Usually the feet are little kids or babies and their hands are adults or bigger siblings. This really adds some interest into my day – especially when we are in the middle of Wal-Mart and both girls take off their socks and shoes and wave their feet and hands in the air while making those shrill voices that kids often make to represent that they are talking as another person! I don’t even want to begin to think what must be going on in other people’s minds when we pass by – but I let them carry on as they really love this type of play. Actually, as I sit and write this I hear my youngest using this shrill voice – so I guess they are at it again! Let’s just say that these kids don’t make me spend much money on toys – that’s for sure!
Another thing that has been interesting is related to the Summer Library Reading Program. Every summer they have a program in our library where if a child reads so many books (or is read to) – they get a prize. We decided to join again this summer. I’m just amazed that the librarians are amazed when kids love to read (or be read to). We had to read 8 stories in a month and after 16 books they would get a reward. After we came home with our library books – I must admit we never have less than 20 books in our house – I am a bit of a reading adict (although most of my time is spent reading non-fiction homeschooling and education related materials now instead of fiction). At lunch that day we read more than 8 books – but I didn’t want to be carried away so I only wrote down eight for the girls. I was amazed when I realized how much we did!
My kids just love books – and kidding aside – if they could get away with it – they would have me read at least 100 each day and still beg for more. When I’m not reading to them – they are sneaking away to the reading area and looking through their books or narrating a story to go along with the pictures. In the evenings (or early morning) if my youngest wakes up and doesn’t want to go back to sleep – she will quietly go to the reading area – turn on the light and sit down with her books and “read”. She stays there the entire time – completely enthralled – until she gets caught, masha’Allah. The funny thing is that we often find her sitting there at 4 a.m. and have to make her go back to sleep!
So, the interesting thing to think about is . . . if the library is so desperate to have kids that like to read that they have programs like this – giving rewards to kids who read much less materials than my kids do . . . then isn’t something good happening in our home? Isn’t there something we can feel we have accomplished? While my daughter may not be reading on her own now – isn’t it enough for me to be happy that at least she absolutely loves books and loves to learn (even though it doesn’t meet other people’s standards right now)?
I mean, everywhere you turn you hear “Does she read yet?” or “Is she starting school this year?” Everyone always makes it seem like knowing certain things now completely determines the future success of a child. Yet, those children that are school educated (and who were forced to learn earlier – losing the love of learning somewhere along the way) – who are supposed to be far superior to any child that is homeschooled – are made to believe that reading 8 books in one month is an accomplishment. Besides, the reason they have developed such programs is because those children usually wouldn’t even read 8 books in one month – but they do so (the library hopes) in order to win a prize. I don’t blame them – I really wish all children could have the love of reading (my husband hates reading because it was never important in his family). However, I’m just grateful (Alhumdulilah) that my children don’t really need such an incentive – but we take advantage of it anyway.
Perhaps I just have to adjust my thinking – because going by the norm and expecting to following those standards are not working for me in my situation and I really do think the girls are going to be just fine, insha’Allah. The only thing that this type of pressure and thinking has done is cause stress and I don’t want to put that stress on my own children.
Sumayyah Umm SAA