Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Wonder of a Four-Year-Old Who Knits

Our daughter-in-love Emily teaching our
four-year-old granddaughter Elsie how to knit.
Our daughter-in-love Emily posted a picture on Facebook recently of her teaching our four-year-old granddaughter Elsie how to knit. And she is doing it! In just a short time she already has a good portion of a scarf completed.

We are amazed. She is SO smart. She is a genius, a prodigy.

And then I read this:
By the time she was four, a girl [raised in the American colonies in the 1700's] was expected to be able to knit basic stockings and mittens; by six, spin flax. By eight, most girls were helping take care of their younger sisters and brothers.[1]
It was then it occurred to me that what makes our Elsie so amazing is that she picked it up out of natural interest and not by our expectations for her. I have to wonder how much more our children would do and learn if only we expected them to.

Of course, there is the question of natural inclination, ability, and motor skill development and all of that to take into consideration. But, how much do we rob our children of meaningful work and contributions to the family dynamic by setting them down to a movie or sending them out to play rather than bringing them along side of us in our daily work and skilled leisure activities?

That's why I love home education above institutional schooling. The daily opportunities to mentor our children in the arts and even in basic daily care of self and home are vast and innumerable. Every moment has the potential to be a teachable moment. We don't have to settle for catching them here and there. Every day becomes a teachable day.

But not much of it will happen by accident. A parent must be proactive in including the children in daily work and leisure.

I encourage you to seek opportunities to draw the children in to whatever you are doing. Perhaps families with many children will have to pull them in one at a time, but any effort will reap huge benefits.

Be patient with them and don't give up too soon. Even failed attempts deserve a try perhaps when they are older. Your loving attention and expectation of their achievement will help develop the confidence they need for future success in many areas of life.

[1] Daniel Wolff. How Lincoln Learned To Read (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), 30.