My sweet, compassionate, encouraging Naomi is wise beyond her years. Her brain often functions as if it has thousands of browser windows open at one time. She struggles to fall asleep at night because her mind contemplates everything from why her room is pink and brown to death. Last year we tried to start preschool with her and she could not handle the emotional pressure of being told what to learn, when to learn it, and the pace I set was too fast for her. I talked to Mark and told him I thought we need to take a break for a couple of weeks. She needed time to play and rest her mind. I needed the time to work on my relationship with her some more, taking the time to reassure her she is smart, able to learn, and help her to regain confidence in herself that she is able to learn. This was an eye opening experience for us as homeschooling parents. This experience with her last year is really what sealed our confidence in classical education/TJE. The first week she played, but the second week she began to draw shapes on blank pieces of paper. She began to draw circles, squares, and rectangles, because she was relaxed and able to take the time her without pressure to perform. Drawing shapes let to her concluding that a circle is an O and half of an O is C! She saw that a triangle could be made into an A and a square could be made into an H. Her brain was relaxed, engaged, and I was able to use this new found confidence to talk to her about other letters, shapes, and numbers.
After this light bulb moment I sat down with Mark and told him I thought we needed to change how I was going to run the year with the twins. I was going to let them pick whether we would do circle time or not and I was going to let them choose what we did in circle time. I also put the lined paper away. I filled their part of our homeschooling cupboard with lacing cards, geo blocks, sheets of white blank paper, crayons, blocks, and other hands on manipulative. I created a structure time rather than a content time. In the mornings what they did was no longer ruled by what I told them to do rather they got to choose from the cupboard or bookshelf what they wanted to do. I was not prepared for the many light bulb moments Naomi would have, the girl who struggled with anything I thought she might be ready to learn. I instead began to listen and watch for her cues rather than expect her to be where I wanted her to be. I was not going to be able to drag Naomi along, she was not so patient and willing as Maddie had been. No way! If Naomi comes across a situation where fight or flight instinct takes over, she is the one who will stand her ground and stand up to fight whatever she needs to. Even if that means standing up to Mark and I to tell us she cannot keep up with what we are doing. I’m glad she did! It caused us to realize what we were doing wasn’t working, apologize, and find the keys to our kids learning paths.
This year the twins are in kindergarten. I planned to start getting them use to a short time of sit down work. Our first attempt was laughable at best. Neither of them had the emotional readiness to sit down and be able to concentrate on what I needed them to do. We went back to what we did last year, except I added a few more manipulative to their closet. I added Bob books, books with three to four word sentences I knew when they were ready they would be able to sound out. I also added numbers and letter tracing sheets. I gave them a structured time of learning but did not tell them what they had to learn. She was free to make stories with a couple of story boards I had found (she could sit with these story boards for hours), she practiced with lacing cards, and even chose to attempt tracing the worksheets I had put on her shelf. She would also snuggle up on my lap and we would read. Then one day she brought me a Bob book and we began sounding out words with her. While we are in the car, sitting at the dinner table, or taking a walk we play a game. I say letter sounds and they have to guess what the word is, for example I would say the letter sounds c-u-p. They would excitedly say cup or they would spend some times saying the sounds to themselves and then cheerfully come up with the answers. This simple game has been preparing them for when they were emotionally ready to begin blending sounds to read. They have become familiar sounds that their brain is able to connect with and recognize.
Naomi is in love with what she calls arting. Creating, painting, sewing, glitter, and using different mediums to create works of art. Everything in her shouts creativity, I didn’t understand the thought process God might have used as he created the world until Naomi started sharing with me how she views the world. I am fairly certain Naomi may even be able to smell colors. When I go to get dressed I often think, what would Naomi put together. She dares me to think outside of my comfort zone through her creativity. She loves spending time with people, she is a true extrovert in every way. The more time she spends with people the happier and joyful she becomes. Thankfully she has an amazing mentor in her life in the form of my mom, her grandma. My mom is an amazing seamstress and is able to sew the beautiful outfits. I am thrilled that Naomi is blessed to have such a mentor in her life. I know that my mom loves Naomi, has her best at heart, and is able to guide Naomi through the deep questions she often asks. As my mom sews, bakes, and creates with her Naomi is going to ponder the world out loud, because that is what Naomi does. It is what anyone does in a relaxed environment. Naomi also has her daddy as a mentor to guide her in painting, caulk paintings, and other expressions of art.
We strive to make sure Naomi has different creative outlets. We keep her stock with paint, fabric, markers, stamps, scissors, and glitter. There is a lot of math that goes into both art, baking, and sewing. She is going to need to read, use math, handwriting, and even science. Naomi’s passions are different than her brothers and her sister, it’s the way God has created all of us. I have begun to fill her bookshelf with craft books, art books, and cookbooks. Since she is not a fluent reader yet it is important the pages have detailed pictures so she is able to piece together what she needs to do, with the occasional reading of directions from Mark, Maddie, or myself.
Before we commenced for Christmas break I tried having the twins sit down and try their worksheets again. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe it! They were both able to sit down, focus, and finish their worksheets with minimal instructions from me. Two months ago it was like pulling teeth to even get through half of a worksheet. There is a lot to be said for emotional readiness and I cannot make my kids be where they are not ready to be.
Naomi has zone cleaning chores like Maddie does, the level to which I expect her to be able to do her chores is different because she is younger than Maddie. However, there are zones each of them are better at than the others, partly because they like those zones better and partly because they are gifted in those areas.
Naomi’s required work:
Short worksheets (15 to 20 minutes)
Naomi’s Inspired work:
Naomi needs time, space, and lots of encouragement to continue on her learning path. She needs to trust that I will not drag her along her learning path. This frees up her mind to experiment with shapes, letter sounds, and practicing counting. Naomi is an artist and an abstract thinker. Giving her freedom, assurance, and confidence in personality is liberating and encourages passionate learning. It is an honor to not make her fit into a box she does not belong in and instead giving her room to discover her capabilities, continuing to work with her to build her confidence in academic readiness, and walking her through her light bulb moments when she is ready. It is fun to watch her creative adventure and encourage her along the path that God has for her. Where ever that path leads I am confident she will be more than able and ready to conquer all that God has for her!