I am about to set out on an uncharted ocean with my 4 year old. There are no definitive decisions that we've made, so we can turn back or change our minds any time, any day. And I am prepared for that. Because I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. But as always, we've had to allow Kate's upbringing to be child-led. None of our friends advice during my pregnancy with Kate and during her infancy, then toddlerhood ever applied. We felt confused and uncertain of everything. Wondering why her sleeping habits, her eating habits, behavior, personality, none of it seemed to align with anything we had learned or heard about with childhood. We often joked that she came from another planet.
It took us a while to figure out that gentle attachment parenting was what Kate needed as an infant and toddler. Not by our choice. We had all the measures setup for what moms often refer to as mainstream parenting. We were preparing to be mainstream parents. Kate wouldn't have it any other way, and made life impossible, unless we kangaroo'd her 24/7.
On and off we dealt with our own emotions of confusion and frustration as we entered new chapters of her life unable to relate to other parents, feeling alone, feeling like failures.
There would be months where we'd feel optimistic and positive that we have a unique child and we embrace her differences.
Then there would be months where'd we'd hear that friends toddlers slept through the night, or only woke up once or twice (meanwhile we were still getting up with Kate every 45 to 60 minutes well into her 18 months of age) that we'd be faced with feelings of discouragement.
As she grew older, and her communication skills expanded, we found that a lot of our problems dissipated as she finally conquered her frustrations of not being able to communicate her needs with us.
But other frustrations followed, such as night terrors that consist of 1 hour of her screaming in half awake / half asleep mode, and no amount of comforting or reassuring or environmental changes can take her out of this, only patient waiting from 60 minutes of screaming. We've learned some of the things that feed the night terrors, and we stay away from them.
Now that Kate is 4 years, 3 months of age, she is quite the fascinating, knowledge-absorbing creature.
She is insightful, brilliant, creative, artistic, musical little human.
So here I dive into something I am terrified of failing at but also excited. I hope to nourish her desire to learn, in a child-led approach.
On our first day we spontaneously focused on the letter E
We cooked eggs together
We talked about her baby sister Emma
We learned about Elephants and Eagles
What I discovered:
She was quickly discouraged if she felt like something was too hard. So I went with the flow and focused on things she excelled in.
She got distracted, so I focused on topics and mediums that would interest her.
And then there was the elephant question:
Me: Kate, what do you think elephants eat?
Kate: they eat sand
Me: Actually, they eat leaves.
Kate: No, they eat sand mommy.
Me: Kate, they don't eat sand, sand isn't for eating. They eat green leaves, like giraffes.
Kate: Let's go to the zoo and see the elephants and then we will know what they eat.
Me: I'm telling you Kate, they eat leaves.
Kate: No, Mommy, I'm telling YOU. Let's go to the zoo, see the elephants, and then we will know what they eat.
So then I just had to pull up a youtube video showing elephants eating leaves off trees.
Thursday, we plan on making a jungle project with all our favorite things that start with E!
And we have a gardening project for our yard this week too! (If we get to it)
Tonight, she brought me a paper she had drawn and written on. She wrote:
She remembered from this morning when we spelled out her baby sister's name on the refrigerator that #1 Emma Starts with an E
#2 that she has LOTS of M's in her name :)
and a small victory.... that she was inspired to attempt to write Emma's name on her own and share it with me.
That last part made me gulp in my throat and almost cry of joy :)
Great first day!
Please wish us luck, and I invite you to feel free to leave any comments below with suggestions on our first attempt at introducing homeschooling at home! Thank you!