C. R. says: I’m working through The Phases of Learning and am wondering how to structure/assist the learning if they’re young Love of Learners. I have a 7yo girl and a 2yo girl. Say, if the 7yo wants to learn about “George Washington”, where do you go from there? I find myself not being able to think past taking her to the library to get books!
Also, what are your go-to, every-child-should-have educational environment items to provide the “rich environment” the books talk about?
Well, for starters, I would definitely say they’re both in Core Phase. I think the ideal “structure” for a 7yo would be having a routine that has her taking care of her personal grooming and belongings, helping you with household things, entertaining her little sister, etc. A daily devotional time is great. You can learn songs together, read stories, maybe visit the library once a week. Perhaps an afternoon time when they can get into messier or more elaborate projects that require some supervision and cleanup.
C.R.: I think this is what I needed to hear! I stress myself out with feeling like I’m not doing “enough”!
To answer the specifics of your question:
- Here is a wonderful story book about George Washington >>
- Some great ideas for how to create a learning-rich environment with young children >>
This is a great age to learn nursery rhymes and cute little poems. They are super helpful for phonemic awareness, and teach a lot of cultural literacy. Folk tales and fables start you in the habit enjoying stories as a spring board for discussion, and thinking about relevance, application, meaning–and how to draw lessons out from the experiences in our own lives.
Playing with simple, open-ended toys like Lincoln Logs and Legos, or dolls without tons of elaborate features or accessories, help to fortify their creativity and their independent thinking.
Games like Candyland, Old Maid, Go Fish, checkers and the like can be fun at this age, and reinforce lots of social and intellectual skills – but be advised that 7yos often don’t have the maturity to lose with grace, and this is a developmental thing. Don’t give it a lot of energy. If yours is super sensitive to this, avoid a win/lose situation and celebrate the fun in the journey. If it’s handled well, this hypersensitivity will pass as she matures!
Helping in the kitchen can be a great introduction to math and science, and there are TONS of storybooks and projects that support mathematical and/or scientific thinking and exploration.
Start to observe her to get clues on her gifts, aptitudes, learning style and love language. These insights should not confine your approach to what you expose her to at this age, but will inform your mentoring in the long run.
In other words: relax, and enjoy it! She’s young, she’s little, and she will likely not be in a rush to move on to Love of Learning since her younger sibling is so much younger. This is not a bad thing at all. Treasure the time in Core Phase. It will be a great strength to your family to have her so grounded and peaceful in the long run.
Meanwhile, this is a FANTASTIC time for you to sort of set the course for your family education culture by investing in your own education! The more you model self-education, the easier it will be for them to own it, too. It’s amazing how fun and easy homeschool is when everyone loves learning and puts in the effort to make it happen. So much more fun and less stressful than the “Sergeant Mom” plan, or trying to do “school at home.”
An investment in yourself will pay huge dividends in your kids’ learning, long-term.