I once read that the best way to learn something is to teach it.
As Chilli is getting a little bit older, it’s wonderful to be able to encourage her to take the lead with some gentle Early Childhood activities and lead the lesson for Marlin. She really enjoys to be the ‘teacher’ or the ‘teacher’s helper’ and of course it helps me to be able to leave them together at the lounge room table doing a simple activity together, led by Chilli, while I tend to a home task close by. Often I include this rhythm first thing in the morning if I’m still organising the day either in school or the home.
A good friend also speaks highly of allowing her Grade 6 son to lead the younger aged 4 and 6 children in their family, for some nature studies each week.
I think this is not only really empowering for the older child, but a great balance for the younger child as well and allows a wonderful time of connection between siblings in a different and beneficial dynamic.
Earlier this week, Chilli and Marlin had been out for a morning nature walk and outdoor run. Tending to a few morning farm chores, I then asked Chilli to lead Marlin in looking at some new springtime leaves that were growing on our orchard trees. They collected 2 grape vine leaves each and came inside to settle into an early morning activity while I continued to ready for the day.
I was giving the children some free time of a morning for larger outdoor movement time – running, jumping, hopping, skipping, bike riding and the like. Years ago I remember in a conference call, hearing Beth Sutton of Enki Education talk about how this first thing morning activity of something that gets the heart rate up – primes the brain for learning in morning lesson. I love the idea of this, however it’s been really hard for Marlin to transition from this freer morning time into ‘school’ time. It started to really be quite unkind to him as he’d start every day unhappy, crying and resisting school time for Chilli. I really find I need to ‘hold that space’ quite tightly of a morning and bring the children very mindfully – before they ‘expand out’ for the day – into our rhythm of school.
Therefore I’ve been ‘reining in’ that space with some morning prayer work. After breakfast and getting ready, we tend to a few simple chores amongst ourselves (at which time I have to really mindfully make sure they don’t ‘break off’ in any free play type way!) and then come to our lounge room table to start our day in an informal way. From here I spend some time with Marlin for his nursery school morning circle while Chilli either continues on with her prayer work independently or another small task that I have set her up with. I use this time for things like her writing out times tables, drawing monthly calendar pages or working on bookwork that we need to finalise. We’ve just started our cursive journey, so it will also be a good time for her to practise some of her writing.
Following on from Chilli and Marlin’s early morning Spring walk this week, I had set up the lounge room table with pads, white crayons and green watercolour paint. Chilli led Marlin in some ‘invisible’ leaf rubbings and then some ‘magic’ painting. It’s lovely for Chilli to be able to share these early childhood activities she enjoyed, with her brother. When I ask her to be the ‘teacher’s helper’ she’ll help the ‘younger student’ to either take off or put on shoes/slippers, get his outdoor gear on or off or hung back up, make a small snack for them or help him to lay out his lesson supplies. She really relishes in this sense of purpose and responsibility and takes great enjoyment from saying “Come on Ma, let me help you with that”.
The ‘magic painting’ idea this week was inspired by a member on the Earthschooling forum who was working with the Autumn Earthschooling | pre-school program. These ‘magic leaf paintings’ are an activity to accompany the ‘Anxious Leaf‘ story in Week 4 of the November monthly plan. We’d done this activity in a slightly different way back in April which is our Autumn, but I thought this was a great activity to accompany our budding spring as well.
Do you encourage your older child to take the lead with directing some of your younger children’s lessons through their Early Childhood program?