I really enjoyed this article on "Ten Things to Do with Your Child Before Age Ten"--a nice balance between a vigorous preparation of a child for academic learning and an understanding of what young children are developmentally ready for.
But we're still a long way even from most of the things on this list. Copywork? D1 isn't even interested in coloring yet, though she does like grabbing markers. I must think of other things to do to satisfy my educational urges. So here goes my working list of "Five Things to Do Before Age Five."
1. Organize our house and life for easier learning and living.
I can organize things, but it requires a lot of thought and labor on my part--I'm not a person who puts like things together naturally. And the last, oh, five years of my life have not been conducive to the time and thought needed to organize things, while they have created ever mounting amounts of activities and stuff that needs organized. Maybe this doesn't seem like the ideal time to do it, but it will sure be easier to do it now than while trying to do formal education.
DOB teases me because I'll spend the day pondering things like the advisability of studying sentence diagramming--sometime in 2017--but it's a defensive mechanism for me. I have about three times the mental capacity for making plans as I do the physical capacity for implementing them. If all my plans are about here and now, I get depressed because I'm not accomplishing anything. But I do need to pull back a little bit from planning seventh grade and worry about what to do with the old computer equipment in the office closet and where the toys should go. And then maybe I can start putting some school supplies in there . . .
2. Build relationships and habits
All education is about relationships, both with the subject and with the teacher. If I don't have my children's love and respect, they're not going to learn all that much from me--and what they do learn will be much less pleasant and worthwhile.
Similarly, the more I can build in them habits of obedience, working hard, keeping things neat, and paying attention, the easier it will be for them to study anything--their whole lives. And all of those are things that D1 can already be beginning to learn.
The most important habits, though, are mine. And the most important relationships I have to work on are mine with God (or I will never teach them what is truly worthwhile) and with DOB. Everything else comes from those.
3. Find resources
This is where I tend to get carried away, but it still is worth working on now. I don't want to get carried away with buying things for years down the road that I might not need, but there are books and materials I can start stockpiling. Even better are finding the organizations and people that will be helpful. And of course there are those great deals that one can't pass up . . . as long as I can find somewhere to put them.
Read to them: board books, picture books, chapter books, the Bible. Read to myself: books about education, books to educate myself (yeah, and maybe I should read some organizational books here, too). I'm amazed at how much D1 responds to books already. Her favorite, by far, is I am a Bunny, illustrated by Richard Scarry. I think she likes the beautiful illustrations of things she recognizes from outdoors (she loves going outside). When she sees me pull it off the shelf, she starts giggling.
5. Create a rich environment
I want my children's free time to be spent doing interesting and worthwhile things; things that will grow their mind and imaginations, things that will strengthen their bodies; things that will challenge their spirits. At this house, we don't even have a TV or anywhere to put it, so I have no choice but to find other things to keep them busy; and the sooner I think of things and find ways to keep them on hand, the easier my life will be in another year or two.
Yes, I think that will be enough to keep me occupied--even if I ever do have any extra energy left after the dishes and laundry are done.