Saturday, May 15, 2004

A Child's Mind At Work

I had two experiences today that showed me how my children's minds are working. In one of the cases it also showed clearly what I still have to teach as well as what has already been learned.

Reagan recently had an experience with a friend where he was given misinformation about bees. She told him that bees needed human blood for their honey, and that's why they sting. Seeing the opportunity to teach (Yay for homeschooling) we began a brief Science unit on bees. I really should have made it a unit study, we could have written stories, made a Spelling list, word problems etc. but I'll remember that for next time. ANYWAY, he learned about the different members of the colony, what they do, why they sting, what happens to them, and how honey is made. When sharing that information with his friend today his feelings were hurt. She didn't believe him. She thought it was dumb that bees would take stuff from flowers to make honey! Reagan became so frustrated he balled up his fists and struck out at her. I saw the whole thing.

I immediately called him upstairs. I was shocked. Violence is truly not like him and totally inexcusable, especially toward girls. I stopped his protestations about her starting it and asked him when it is appropriate to hit girls. "Never" he replied. "But she started it. She didn't believe me about the bees!"

"Well," I returned, "If she made you mad, then it's okay." His face showed the truth he knew inside.

"No it's not" he answered. Together we found information about bees on the internet and printed it out to give to her. We discussed alternatives to violent behavior, and he had to go and apologize. She still didn't believe him until I joined in the conversation and assured her that it was true. But the whole encounter taught me a lot. Reagan still has to learn self-control. He can have whatever feelings he would like, but he can not display them any way he would like. He allready knew that it was wrong. Now the teaching must focus on the tools that he needs to put that knowledge into practice.

I saw where Piper is on the understanding continuum tonight. She brought me three lightweight balls that go with her ball popper toy. Daddy can juggle. Daddy can juggle three balls. If Daddy can juggle (her little mind reasoned) then Mommy must be able to also. Daddy is a grown-up and Mommy is a grown-up, juggling must be a grown-up skill. Unfortunately for Piper it's not this grown-up's skill and she was left very disappointed as I was totally unsuccessful in my attempts to amuse her. But she is reasoning. She's sharp and I love that I can see her mind working already.

So, while it is true that as a home educator I teach my children every day, they teach me too. Sometimes I wonder which one of us learns more.

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