Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Something to Talk About

I think we're on the verge of being verbal. Ellie has been saying "mama" more and more accurately lately. She's also working on "bye-bye" and I've gotten her to say an approximation of "milk" and "grandma". We've been working on waving "bye-bye", but then I also have been showing her the sign for "milk" (which is kind of a sideways bye-bye), so I think I've confused her. Maybe we'll work on the sign for "potty" a little more and just leave "milk" for later. She's adorable when she does it too. There's always a lot of wonder in her face and a hint of bashfulness and pride when she gets the encouragement. Most of the time there is a lot of hesitation, so if we're leaving the room, she usually waves after we've turned to go. And, she is still trying to figure out the wave, so she usually waves both hands kind of at herself as she inspects her hands.

In other news, I've been doing some research on homeschooling. It's something that seems like it could be really beneficial to Ellie. All these grandiose plans occur to me of having a super literate ├╝ber-educated child. She could speak 7 languages, enter college at the tender age of 16, play several instruments and be a speaker at TED. I exaggerate a little, but not much. In theory, a stimulating child-led curriculum following her interests would be fabulous, but there's a lot of self doubt floating around too. Could I keep us on task? Could I raise pertinent questions to keep her searching for answers? Or, to take it down to the nitty gritty, could I learn the parts of a sentence enough to teach her? And then, what if she has a little sibling? How do I balance curriculum, naps, my fitness regime, assorted appointments, cooking balanced and nutritious meals, etc? It sounds like a lot. Then, I peruse homeschooling blogs and forums and it sounds like they play it pretty loose and easy. They wake up slowly, start school between 9 and 11, get in about 3-4 hours, and then the kids are on their own or doing chores and Mom gets dinner ready. How does anyone learn 7 languages on that kind of schedule? (jk) I've got a couple books coming to see if I can learn about the different styles and see a few more examples of schedules and curriculum. P is against this idea, for the record. But, I've asked him to keep an open mind and read "The Idle Parent". It's not a book about homeschooling, but it does encourage a home life where parents read real books instead of "Ten in the Bed" and there is stimulating discussion at the dinner table. And, if there's not, Dad reads poetry at the kids until they regurgitate it back. The author paints an idyllic picture (to me anyway).

I've started reading "Raising Freethinkers". It's not as pleasurable as "Idle Parent". Co-written by 4 people, the book is structured as a series of essay-chapters with Q & A, resources, and suggested activities at the end of each section. I've been reading it on Kindle for iPhone and decided it falls into the category of book you have to physically own. (I've just about decided all non-fiction books fit in this category.) It simply will require highlighter, dog-eared pages, notes, and lots of flipping pages to find certain passages or resources. And, I do anticipate using it quite a bit. The writing seems a little stiff and at a more collegiate level than most parenting books. So far the only thing that rubs me a bit funny is that the authors advocate a diverse religious literacy program and warn against indoctrination. Yet, they also suggest practicing answers with your kids to help protect them from religious kids trying to indoctrinate them. Isn't that just substituting one form of brainwashing for another? I understand why they do it. You can't just raise a kid in a minority and not prepare him for unpleasant possibilities the majority may inflict on him. However, it seems a bit hypocritical. Mostly, I just feel that the book is way above me and that I should read all the resources to begin to have a glimmer of preparation for guiding another human being through this journey. I've gone most of my life not really giving myself a label in terms of religion. When pressed, I'll cop to "agnostic", which P tells me is a misnomer. After some initial research, I'm beginning to think "humanist" would be a better description of my personal philosophy. The authors assume that the reader is quite literate and has done extensive research on religion. I feel like I forgot to do my homework.

I posted a question on a Mommy Facebook group I'm a part of (nearly 200 strong). Hoping to narrow my reading list a bit, I asked for people's favorite parenting books. I'm afraid I did myself a disservice. Instead of narrowing the field, I now have a LONGER reading list. Some of the titles and authors are; Dr. Sears Discipline Book, Dr. Brazelton's Touchpoints, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, and Parenting With Love and Logic. There were a few other titles, but these are ones I've heard about before and they all have pretty exceptional reviews on Amazon, so I'll start with these after my other books. Comment or shoot me an email if you have any advice or reading suggestions.

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