Saturday, July 19, 2014


I have written in the past about some of my views on education.  This was when Caroline was still on the distant-though-shrinking horizon and my mind was occupied with rather more of the theory than the practice of parenting, i.e. choosing a grad school vs. changing a dirty diaper.

Now that she's been home, and especially in the wake of a very pleasant outing to the Children's Museum, learning is back on my mind.  I have learned that there's more to "learning" for a little child than ABC's, numbers, colors, and the Periodic Table.  Caroline has been learning all sorts of things not to be found in a book:
  • How to walk (we are, as predicted, finding her ability to walk to be a VERY mixed blessing as "STOP!" and "Come back here!" are getting a lot of use around the house!)
  • How to navigate stairs or even the transition from hardwood to carpet
  • How to talk a little
  • How to use a spoon
  • How a doorknob - ESPECIALLY the one to the bathroom - works
  • How to play
So many things for her young mind to take in!

We want to expose her to as much as we can not only to help her develop but also to acquire a fondness for doing things.  Part of this is reaction on my part: I was a lifeless lump as a child boy young man for most of my life, and I think it would be a service to her to teach her NOT to be.  There is more to life than sitting on the couch.

More importantly, every bit of stimulation we can give to her brain will help it to develop*.  So, we're planning a trip to a nearby "ranch" where she can get some sunshine and fresh air (the body needs development, too) as well as see all sorts of interesting animals.  Perhaps early next year we'll try "gymnastics" class for her.  We know that she likes music and dancing, so we'll try dance class when she's old enough.  I should note here that one of the many warnings we were given as prospective adoptive parents was that adopted children can easily be overstimulated and react badly to it (even something as mundane as a particular color can upset a child who might associate that color with a bad experience in the orphanage or foster home, or might remind him of abandonment or other painful separations).  Happily, Caroline doesn't seem to have this problem.

Of course, there's another trap to doing too much: we don't want to be "those parents" who make their child's life a misery to him by forcing him to spend every waking moment doing something "educational" because childhood is nothing but prep for getting into Harvard.  How to strike the balance?

Well, it's all a learning experience!


(*) There is a theory that children who hear more words very early in life not only have a larger vocabulary but also have a better capacity for learning.  Maybe the theory is correct or maybe not, but we're not interested in taking chances.

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