We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Dec 12, 2008

Milestones and learning styles

Icy Shore
After an adventurous attempt to get Alder to Adra's this morning that involved icy curvy hills, trees hanging on down power lines and finally a giant balsam across the road we turned around. Creeping back to town in 4wd low through the glittering of last night's ice storm we listened to classical interpretations of sea shanties. A few miles into our retreat Alder and I got into the following conversation:

A: Adra's?
Me: Not today, the road and her house are broken (we had run into her husband who said their power was out).
A: I fix Adra's house?
Me: We can't get to her house because of the road.
A: Mama fix it, and Alder.
Me: We don't have the tools we need.
A: Oh...why?
Me: Because the rain that froze last night into ice broke the wires and some trees, we would need big tools like saws.
A: Papa fix it?
Me: Alder I think we should leave it for the workers. (we were passing by an electric crew with their cherry picker)  See.
There is a pause in the conversation then:
A: Adra's house broken I fix it with Mama. 
Me: Sweetie (don't ask) we can't fix it right now.
A: Broken? (as in how was it broken)
At which point we went over the whole ice storm to which he replied:
A: Water brake Adra's house.

A month ago this would have never happened. Only in the last few weeks that he has started to make sentences. Before he had a few stock sentences that he used, but in the last few days he has been constructing them out of ideas new and old. For months Alder collected words, using them solo pointing out objects or actions, then he added comparative words still they were usually said by themselves or along with one other word. This is how he does things, he focuses on one aspect of a 'project' until he grasps it comfortably before he takes the next step.

It reminds me of when he learned to crawl. For weeks he had gotten himself up onto all fours but couldn't move forward, but that is all he wanted to do was try to move forward. When he finally did move it was backwards, but that was followed by forwards. Of course once he got crawling down he wasn't content to just crawl around he wanted to figure out steps. We finally had to put up a gate at the bottom of the stairs not because we were afraid of him falling but because he would work himself into hysterics trying to get himself off of the floor. There is an advantage to having a child like this, as he did teach himself about steps (we had a set of four carpeted steps in Denver that we let him use once he started to get it) he has only fallen twice and both times were from the second or third step.

Even then, at 6 months old Alder had an obvious learning style. I find it interesting to watch him tackle each new 'project' he sets for himself. His way of learning is so different than my own I sometimes feel that he is the one teaching me how to do things. I may be the Mama and the adult but he is really the one that is able to understand the world more completely.

I'm not going to say that my child is gifted I think labels like that are useless. I also don't think that what I see him doing makes him a genius or above other kids in the normal ways that they are tested. I do however think that as a person, child and adult, he will be able to see things from a broad prospective. I'm having difficulty wording this, let me use an example. I think he'll be able to look at the newspaper and understand the headlines politically, economically, and even how what is going on relates to history. So while he may never be a whiz at memorizing the periodic table I think he'll be able to understand it's origins and the physics behind it.

Meanwhile, as I left for work today he was happily "cooking" eggs and soap for Papa.


The Grocer said...

I think I understand what your getting at. Children learn in a kind of organic way without having the mental clutter that we accumulate about "how to learn" as adults.
We found it amazing to watch our twins, one who crawled, the other who bum shuffled but walked three months earlier than the one that crawled. Different ways of dealing with the same problem.

Shannon said...

i find nothing more fascinating than witnessing the evolution of oliver's thought process...
it often puts me in the role of awed student.

Lori said...