This past Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of spending several hours with two little girls at a family reunion in Long Lake. Nova turned a year old yesterday and Lucy, her cousin, is a big girl of nearly two and a half. It has been a while since I have spent a significant amount of time with little ones, after all, my “babies” are twenty-four and twenty-one. In those few hours, I was, once again, reminded how perfectly unique we humans are designed. Yet, within that distinct individuality, we are all blessed with the same intrinsic, insatiable drive to learn from the moment we take in our first breath - earth-side.
I read somewhere, many years ago, that we learn more in our first year of life than in all of the remainder of our years put together. We literally hit the ground running – observation and exploration, quickly followed by mimicry, and experimentation are our very first means of acquiring information about our world.
Some children, like Nova and my son, Ian, are watchers. They notice everything! They are alert to all the variables in any situation and generally approach life cautiously, but with curiosity and delight. In Ian’s case (I don’t know Nova well enough yet to say), he wanted to make sure he understood new things on every conceivable level, and was going to be damn good at them, before he took them on. Ian didn’t walk until he was 15 months old; however, once he was confident that he had learned all he could by watching – he took off – no toddling for him – it was a full on run and he very rarely fell down. When he was five and we were driving to Kindergarten registration, he piped up from the backseat, “Mommy, what if I don’t know all I need to know to be in Kindergarten?” Today, Ian has developed numerous talents all because he spent so much time observing to become comfortable enough to take the risks necessary to bring his artistry to the next level.
Other kids, similar to Lucy and my girl, Kenzie, are exuberant doers. They are usually incredibly independent and like to experiment! As a baby, Kenzie, put everything in her mouth, I can only assume, to test it out - you know to get the full experience. She amazed her pediatrician with her pincer grasp when she was a few months old. During this time, one of her many nicknames was Hoover (as in the vacuum). These kids don’t sit idly by observing, they jubilantly dig in to anything within reach and if it is not easily graspable, they will get to it by whatever means they can. For a longtime Kenzie rolled everywhere. We often said, during her early years, that she attempted things Ian would never have even thought of, additionally, she was not afraid to screw up. As a toddler, her favorite phrase was, “by my own, Mommy.” It isn’t surprising to know that her willingness to try anything, along with many other accomplishments, has led her to become a gifted cook.
Yes, indeed, we, humans, are natural learners – no matter our preferred combination of modalities. Why then, do we, as a culture, believe that all that innate ability is lost as soon as we hit the magical age of four or five? All of a sudden – we need school to tame us and teach us what we need to know to survive in society??? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news folks, but that is utter garbage! We have all been brainwashed.
When we support our children to continue their observations, explorations, mimicry, and experimentation, and they are encouraged to ask questions throughout their lives, they will remain joyful, energetic, curious, intrinsically motivated, independent, accomplished, and brilliant life-long learners.
As teachers, we are here to be the “yes men” - to provide all that support and encouragement, ask open-ended questions, and to supply resources and materials; otherwise, the only pedagogy we need to follow is to step back and get (to hell) out of the way of authentic learning.
If you want your child to have all of the above within our safe, comfortable, and dynamic educational environment, please get in touch. You can also learn more about DRC from our website.
Imagination Station begins tomorrow, August 20. There are still a few spots available for this fun week of creativity and exploration. Register here.
Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders
The DRC outdoor program is open to any homeschool family who is interested in joining us. More info is available here.
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