I have officially been a Mommy for three years, as Jackson turned three earlier this month. I, like many newer moms, second-guess myself on most things. One of the ways I reassure myself is by interrogating other moms on their schedules, habits, and ideas. I read a lot of books, and yes, blogs. Beau and I often discuss methodologies and strategies for raising our children in a way that glorifies God.
After a basic knowledge of God and a love of Scripture, one of our primary goals is to instill a love of learning in the children. I have had many wise women tell me that the way to establish this is to read as much as possible to my children. I guiltily admit that I do not do this. We read before naptime and bedtime and on rainy days, but I know that there are opportunities during the day that I should take advantage of, I just don't. Part of this reason is because my kids are still so small. Rebecca won't sit still and listen to an entire story, unless it is "Goodnight, Moon". She kicks the pages and tells her own story (adorable and encouraged!). Jackson enjoys reading more. He letter-reads words and has memorized many of his more childish books. He looks forward to the ritual of one-on-one time with his parents. He asks questions about the pictures and ideas. Beau got to explain to him last night why the sun is not seen at night. I know that in the next few months, Rebecca will catch up.
I had a girlfriend ask me this week what I do with my children, learning-wise. I think she is doing the same thing I like to do- ask, ask ask what other moms are doing. It is comforting to have a barometer to which one can compare daily life with children. With very small children, it seems daunting to add such a task as schooling to our long days with diapers and discipline and meals and playing and running the home and being a wife. However, the best advice I have gotten so far is to simply make learning a part of daily life. I have observed other mommies doing this quite seamlessly. It is painless for both teacher and student. Anytime can be learning time- meals, errand running, playtime. Children love to learn new things.
At this point, we have only a few structured parts of our day that involve learning. We try to read our children's Bible each day at breakfast. We have recently incorporated the A Beka Preschool Curriculum (an incredible gift from my mother-in-law). The curriculum, which I would not bother using at this point if it were not gratis, consists of giant colorful flashcards that the children can look at while I read a short lesson out of a handbook. It is written from a Christian point of view, and we all love it. However, this takes 10 minutes at the most. If we miss a day, I don't worry about it.
But our favorite way to learn right now is Starfall, the best website on the internet! My aunt introduced me to this program when Jackson was 15 months old, and we have been devotees ever since. The most basic program is for babies and toddlers. It teaches letters and phonemic awareness. And, it is free! That is my favorite part. Jackson is too old for the letters and sounds program, so we have started doing basic reading preparation. There is no guesswork involved for an unsure mommy- you simply follow the program.
The rest of our days are filled with playtime, cooking, digging and playing in the yard, coloring, napping, and watching some PBS. I never know if what I am doing is right enough or beneficial enough, but I so enjoy getting to be around my children every day and I know that God is good to guide me in how to grow my little ones up in the way that they should go.