“Please come help me.” Charlotte was trying to get some little magnets from off the cupboard. I was rocking Winnie, so daddy had to help. She brought them to the living room where we had the front door open. At some point, I realized that Charlotte was playing with the magnets on the door. It had never once occurred to me that the door was a magnetic surface, but what a brilliant idea. Soon the magnetic letters came out and then the magna tiles. After arranging the letters, Chuck pointed to the different sets and said, “This one says it does fit on the door, this one says it doesn’t fit on the door. This one says my name fits on the door.” Then the magna tiles became pizzas, and I was asked what I wanted on mine. There were lots of opportunities for me to push sorting, counting, and letter recognition, but I left it alone. I am content with the concepts she demonstrated, that letters can be arranged to communicate a message and that each item can be given a number and counted (I corrected her though when she counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, as she pointed to each one of the little magnets). The former preschool teacher in me had the urge to encourage some sorting with the colors and use this observation as a “teachable moment,” but I let it go. As Charlotte approaches preschool years, I find myself struggling with how (or if) I should go about “teaching.” I struggle with the worry that people will think my child is not smart if she doesn’t meet their expectations of what they think she should know/be able to do. I struggle with what should be taught and what is better left to be discovered, and I’m conflicted between how I have been trained to teach in traditional academic settings vs. what I believe to be true about children and how they best learn. I am not ready to pledge allegiance to any particular method or swear against another. For now, I’d prefer to let my decisions about it be based on my individual child and each specific context. I realize I will most likely continue over analyzing and second guessing my process until I get a chance to read the thirty books on my reading list about how best to approach my daughter’s “education.” Although I’m sure I would still do that if I had already finished my book list. Any books I should add to the list?
Oh, and talking about learning new skills…Winnie has been practicing her smiles in between her naps.