What do you remember about your early school days? Was it is a good experience? How have those experiences effected your own teaching as a homeschooling mom?
It was a cheery, colorful room, my kindergarten year. A braided rug with an old rocking chair in one corner, easels diagonally across the room, cubby holes everywhere.
The first day, I wandered around the room, followed my twin sister's heels and kept an eye on her polka-dot dress which, wouldn't you know -- looked exactly like mine. JoAnn and I had hardly been more than eighteen inches apart in our five years since birth, so I couldn't possibly think of letting her out of my sight now! I looked into her hazel eyes and at her freckled cheeks, feeling as though I were looking in the bathroom mirror, sensing that she missed mom as much as I did.
In the weeks that followed, we learned to paste tissue-paper flowers on construction paper with pesty Elmer's glue, made ugly paper mobiles which were stapled in all the wrong places, brought quail feathers in for show and tell -- the ones our dad saved from his weekend hunting trip, and dreamily finger-painted our way through many an afternoon.
Our young teacher with the light brown hair -- Mrs. Frederick, flitted around the room in her textured, tailored tweed suits, her jewelry clanking as she waved her arms around like a conductor directing her orchestra of fifteen 5-year-olds. Every afternoon at 1:00, she snapped her fingers signifying that it was snack time -- vanilla wafers with orange juice. Then we went outside to swing on the monkey bars for what seemed like three minutes before coming in to sit at Mrs. Frederick's feet as she taught from the creaky old rocker.
JoAnn and I eventually adjusted to the kindergarten routine, grew accustomed to the butterflies in our stomachs, and ventured a few feet apart. We enjoyed coloring with Crayola crayons... Our eyes locked and we exchanged giggles as we were handed blank manila paper. No stapling, pasting, or folding things five million times!
Mrs. Frederick must have noticed our aversion to art paraphernalia, and made it a point to praise and encourage our colorful efforts. She would kneel next to our adjoining desks, cock her head, look intently at our creations, and smile broadly. That meant a lot to us.
Just because we found Mrs. Frederick to be kind didn't mean we particularly liked spending every afternoon with her -- we preferred to be with our mom in her casual denim slacks -- and wanted to hold her hard- working hands & brush her shiny auburn ponytail as she read to us. We didn't like sitting Indian-style, hands folded neatly on our laps while hearing the pages of Harry The Dirty Dog flip.
So, here's the point: Even the best kindergarten teachers can't replace mom. It's best to be where mom is. I believe that moms are perfectly suited to teach their own children!
I don't blame my own mom in any way for not home schooling us. We were in a suburban Maryland neighborhood, and I'm sure she hadn't even heard of homeschooling! She was still an excellent mother. Still is. Thankfully, we're in a different era where it is possible to teach at home. What a wonderful privilege!
What did my kindergarten experience teach me? One -- that it's best to be home with mom, two -- that little children really need a lot of verbal praise as they learn new tasks. Whether it's drawing, writing or even cleaning their rooms -- kids need constant reinforcement for a job well done.
My encouragement to you today is to notice the little things your kids are doing, and comment on the strides they're making. After all, even tasks like brushing one's teeth, folding one's clothes and extending kindness to siblings are steps in the right direction for growing responsible adults!
Oh, yea -- one more thing I learned in kindergarten -- that it's such a blessing to have a twin to giggle with!
With God's help, keep being a great mom! And to all of you with kids in the four to six age ranges especially --- enjoy every precious moment with the little ones! Goes so fast....