Friday, July 29, 2011
So I've been thinking about preschool. Nola is ready to learn stuff. Her verbal skills have really sky rocketed recently and it makes me realize how much she would love activities, crafts, educational toys, markers, and paper. You know, boquets of sharpened pencils.
There's a lot of home school curriculum out there for preschoolers. A complete set of books, schedules, and educational toys to take you through a year of learning averages around 300 dollars. Ummmmm. That's nice. They really would be helpful, but I'm not sure how necessary. When I looked through the list of what you get in these kits, I realized that it would be pretty easy to pull the books together from the library (Has anyone told you about the library? It's crazy. You get to take books home for FREE! As long as you bring them back.) The educational toys are pretty cool, but I could accomplish the same goal using things we have around the house for the most part.
I could totally nerd out on preschool stuff for Nola. I am just a tiny bit. But I was inspired by this blog post to chill out a little bit. After reading it, I boiled Nola's schooling down to three main goals. First, introducing Nola to Jesus. Second, giving her interesting life experiences and talking about them. And third, reading to her like crazy.
The first goal, introducing Jesus, is interesting. There's no lesson plans for this. No killer kids dvd to explain Him. Jesus is a matter of the heart. He is a spiritual experience. Yes, I can read to her about Him. We love the Jesus Storybook Bible. But in the end, Jesus is a Person she has to meet. I can only put them in the same room together (if I could be so bold to say Jesus would come when I ask) and see what happens. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. I'm not interested in teaching her about a religion or showing her how to act like a charismaniac. (Although I do think it's important that she participate in our faith community and it's pretty darn cute when she raises her hands and sings during our worship services). But I hope I will be successful in introducing her to the One who loves her even more than I do. And then I pray that He captures her heart like He captured mine.
The second goal, having experiences and talking about them, is super fun. It takes energy sometimes but that's all. Basically, I don't want Nola, or Violet for that matter, to just sit around all day watching PBS (although I think that station is awesome and has great kids programming, and sometimes we do watch it all day). I want to take them places and do different things. Simple things, like grocery shopping or taking our dog for a walk are perfect times to talk about what's happening. (The Zoo and Children's Museum are great, too, but the experiences don't have to be fancy or expensive.) Nola makes great observations, and I think the question phase is just around the corner. Yay! She says sarcastically. Actually, it's awesome that she asks questions and it's important that I take the time to respond to her. It's the little things, really. On a walk with our dog, Saint, we stopped to admire a squashed bunny on the side of the road. Thank GOD that experience did not get all the questions I feared! But the caterpillar we found had "black and white stripes" and "he didn't like it when we touched him". That experience was great education. And it's really all she needs for now.
The third goal, reading like crazy, is fairly self explanatory. The only thing is I sometimes have to remind myself that other things can wait while I read to her. Sitting down and reading two or three library books is an extremely important use of my time right now. Dishes and vacuuming can wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. (If you saw my house most days, you wouldn't think I have any problem whatsoever pushing the dishes and vacuuming aside.)
I'm still surfing the internet for that perfect preschool book or curriculum or awesome educational toy that will turn her into a genius. I can't help myself. But before I click "add to cart" I remember my three goals and ask myself if it's really necessary, and then I don't usually end up buying it.
At 2 1/2 living life with us is all she really needs.