Since our girl is not in preschool, I think of our activities together as homeschooling. But it’s not really that, either… it’s more that kids this age learn constantly. I find it fun to provide varied opportunities for her to keep learning, and this week was full of terrific events for us.
On Monday, we attended Tiny Tots Inside the Orchestra at a local museum. Orchestra members sat in a horseshoe shape around the room, while families sat in the middle. We got an up-close-and-personal view of the musicians performing. Anything new caught my daughter’s attention: the opera singer who joined in for an excerpt from “The Marriage of Figaro,” the chance to act out growing motions to “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” and the sleigh bells during another song. The tickets were just $7.50 each (free for those with genuine financial need) and felt quite worthwhile for a first-time, family-friendly experience with an orchestra.
Tuesday was our usual tumbling class. My girl tried a few new things, including the prep work for future cartwheels, but she still refused to walk backwards on the balance beam. I don’t know why she boycotts that activity. Then we went to Ikea for lunch since they have free kid meals on Tuesday. I’m not sure how that is educational, except for the social aspect since we went with some other families from tumbling class.
On Wednesday, we had some quieter play time together at home, which she loves. Later, I bought her a more extensive children’s Bible than her simple “creation, Noah, David, Daniel, Jesus” version. That night, her great-uncle J came to town to help nearby relatives with some projects around the house — and the relatives decided it would be fun to surprise us. So he just showed up, and we were indeed surprised. Our girl took to Uncle J immediately. Her first words to him were, “I’m two and a half. My birthday is…” Since then, she’s been offering to help him in and out of cars and wanting to hold his hand. It’s very cute.
(In all candor, though, I hope my girl won’t pick up too much of her great-uncle’s rustic language. Mama would have a lot of undoing ahead of her.)
On Thursday, some friends came to play and eat with us. On Friday, we went to our city’s aquarium. My little one was not too sure that the scarier-looking fish, not to mention sharks, would stay behind what I kept telling her was glass. She kept her distance. She almost worked up the courage to touch a few that were ready for handling but changed her mind. Next to the aquarium was a park, so we played there before the weather turned on the following day.
Then today, Saturday, was super fun. A nearby museum hosted an early childhood fair and an Iditarod special event. And we got to see both of those, plus general museum admission, for just two dollars! For the two of us! She played with balls, tried a tricycle (legs are still too short), petted service dogs, saw domesticated half-wolves, enjoyed watching turtles eating their food, pointed out alligator jaws, pushed buttons to hear bird songs, squeezed out glitter glue, strung beads to make a bookmark, and much more.
At the fair was a science station. The kids sprayed water on a paper towel, then wrapped seeds in it and put them into a plastic bag. We’re supposed to leave the bag next to a sunny window. I asked my not-quite-three-year-old what she thought would happen to the seeds; she replied, “They will sprout.”
The woman at that station asked, “Does she go to preschool?” she asked. No, I replied, we read a lot. She had a very puzzled look on her face, as if that simply did not compute. I mentioned Nancy Wallace’s books in particular, and the woman knew the author, who focuses on science in nature at a preschool read-aloud level. The woman said she was a teacher in the county preschools and gave us a flier.
I found myself feeling a little offended, though I’m sure that’s not an appropriate response. Did she think that preschool was the only place a child could learn the word “sprout” or the concept behind it? Why did educational experts need to be the ones to pass along that information? What about Daddy’s annual vegetable garden and all our girl learns from that, as well as the books we enjoy together? I guess, as surprised as she was to hear my child say those words, I was as surprised to consider that some see preschool as entirely necessary.
We are, of course, very lucky. We had the means this week to pay for museum trips and special classes. We have an excellent library system with extensive children’s materials. And my child has no known disabilities impeding her learning at this time. We are blessed and lucky.
Looking back at our “homeschooling” this week, I see several subject areas covered: gross and fine motor skills, language arts, science and nature, art, music, a bit of math, and more. It was a fun week together.