In August I ventured into some new yet familiar waters. One day a week, in an effort to assist my daughter in home schooling, my granddaughters come over for “Grandmom School.” The idea came to me last spring, but I was hesitant to tell anyone for fear I was actually being prompted by God to do this and, therefore, might have to follow through.
When at last I broke down and told Bob, he said he thought it was a good idea. I mentioned it to Dena and I’m not sure, but I think I saw a tear in her eye as she jumped up and down and immediately said “Yes.” So now every Thursday is a school day. We are focusing on language arts – spelling, reading, writing, penmanship. The girls are in second and fourth grade. Dena has two other children who are six months old and four. I thought she and the other kids would benefit from a day off while I worked with the girls for her.
Having been down this road before, I determined not to assume that Dena had omitted anything from their education. Kids can make you look bad, and I didn’t want to think the worst when they didn’t know things that I thought they should have already been taught. They forget from year to year. Add to that this new home-school setting where they are completely comfortable with me but not as their teacher, and I was ready for them to shout out the first thing that popped into their budding little brains when asked a question.
At least I thought I was ready.
We had been reading The Great Cake Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith. It is set in Botswana, so I added a study of that country. They also learned about animals of Africa, which was their favorite part, and we reviewed the continents and the oceans, just to make sure they were seeing the big picture.
During this study, we compared the United States with Botswana, and I asked them a few things about our country. In hindsight, I may have shifted gears too quickly for them, but it did make for an interesting conversation. Here is a sample. The girls’ responses are in italics. I won’t attribute to a particular child, but I will say that Ella is the fastest to shout out an answer, being first to answer is what it’s all about for her, right or wrong. If they can just match the exuberance of answering a question with listening to the entire question and thinking it through, they’ll be fine.
Me – “What is the capital of the United States?
The United States of America.
Well, that’s the complete name of our country. What is the capital of The United States of America?
The White House.
Okay, let’s back up a bit. Who is the current president of the United States?
Good. Now who was our first president?
Can you name any other president besides President Obama?
I know you know at least one more. Think a minute. You read a book about a president last year. He was very tall and wore a stove-pipe hat.
Okay, remember that we visited the capital last year and we went to several museums and saw many monuments. One had a huge statue of our sixteenth president sitting on a chair. Another monument is tall and looks like a pencil. It is named for our first president, just like the capital is. The first president is sometimes referred to as the father of our country.
I know – Father Abraham.
It was all I could do at this point not to break down – I was holding back tears, laughter and having to restrain myself from singing Father Abraham, but I kept going. Finally they shouted out George Washington. I was exhausted!
Later I got to thinking – Maybe I should make sure they are not confusing Abraham Lincoln with the Abraham of the Old Testament, but I was too afraid to go there. The learning continues.