Thursday, September 25, 2008

How we talk with our kids

Due to my relationship with the literature-based, internationally-oriented Sonlight Curriculum homeschool program (I'm co-founder with my wife, and a co-owner), I still spend a significant amount of time "meditating" on what goes on over there.

So I noticed a series of posts on the Sonlighters Club forums about how some parents talk with their kids.
I was once talking with my 6-year-old son in line at a store. I didn't realize the vocabulary we were using, to be honest.

The lady behind us asked if I talk to him all the time like that.

I asked what she meant. I wasn't scolding him or anything like that.

She said, "Does he really understand all those words you are using?"

My son said, "Sure, don't you?"

I was both proud and a little embarassed.

As I thought more about it, I realized that his vocabulary was in large part from the books we read.
And then, in response:
I have to agree! My 5-year-old has the best vocabulary at her age of any of my children. Not that the rest were shabby, but listening to good Sonlight books since she was 9 months old certainly hasn't hurt!

Our families are always laughing at her word choices. She has no idea the words she uses aren't typical 5-year-old vocabulary.
It got me thinking that this was the way we always talked with our kids, too. Never "down" to them. Oh, yes, add explanation when and as necessary. But mostly just talk like you'd talk to any adult . . . even if they are four or five years old.

It sets them up to speak confidently with other adults . . . as I also like to remember. (Thinking of our daughter's swim coach when she was 7 or 8 years old. He turned to Sarita in amazement: "Your daughter walks up to me [though she came only up to his belt buckle], looks me in the eye and talks to me as if she was an adult. Totally respectful and all, but I'm just not used to kids being able to do that!")

Yay homeschooling!

Hey. While I'm on this kick. Let me mention another beautiful story I just read, written by a new homeschooling mom.
Monday, we spent the entire day out in the woods exploring, listening, fastening weed wackers out of sticks, spying a falcon high in the branches, a yellow and black spider, a woolly worm, blazing new trails, and having the most wonderful time together. Then the three children (11, 8, and 4) worked together to build a teepee out of branches found in the woods.

Today we were back in the books and the olders were asking, "Can I read another chapter?" and I finished the book.

They are delighted that they know the countries of "Southwest Asia" and talk about the characters and story lines from the readers and read-alouds like they are friends.

We are in total suspense to find out what happens to Ranofer [a character in one of the books they are reading--JAH]. They are begging me to read on.

I love these moments.

And then another mom replied,
Son (5) and I went to the hardware store to buy some treehouse making supplies. My husband and son worked on that this afternoon.

Talk about one excited boy!

Of course, we read half a book and did lots of other things throughout the day.

What rich lives we have!
Oh, yes!

And then a third mom:

Isn't it great?! We took a "day off" last week to build a shed. There is LOTS of math in shed building.
Oh, to be young again and to do it all over!
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