Friday, May 19, 2006

When The Trees Bow Down Their Heads

Ni Zan:Trees in Autumn Wind

Hannah is learning to read. Last week, she saw the word MOM on a commercial and read it out loud so I'll just say that was her first word (though she's been sounding things out for several months now.) Hannah is four and she's been able to identify the alphabet since she was two. She taught herself to write the letters and learned the sounds when she was three. Now she's putting it all together. She came to me the other day with paper in hand and asked me to write down a poem for her which began with this provocative line:

I love how the wind whispers.

Could she have started earlier? Yes. But at this stage, I'm more fond of watching things develop organically. I hope she'll approach all learning the same way - with enthusiasm and desire. She'll start Kindergarten in the Fall and face sixteen-plus years of schooling. Hopefully I can teach her good study habits and how to discipline her time so there's space to suck in whatever captures her fancy.

I've struggled some with the issue of home-schooling. I happen to me a strong advocate of it; it's just not for me. If we still lived in our old neighborhood in Houston, I would make the necessary sacrifices. But we don't. We live in a suburb (now a monetary sacrifice) that has the second highest rating in Texas and I am comfortable sending her to school. And glad. I am neither patient nor disciplined enough to tackle such a responsiblity. But I have given it some thought.

I recently read an article sent to me by my friend, Lisa Ohlen Harris. The article is a theological book review by Susan Wise Bauer, a well respected reviewer for "Books and Culture" magazine. She also happens to be writing a history of the world for W. W. Norton. Well. I'm impressed. Susan was home-schooled and co-wrote a book with her mother called The Well Trained Mind. She's a walking billboard for advocates of the movement. So are my friends, Scott and Julie Brister, who live in Austin. They have four daughters and have made home-schooling a priority in their family. They are almost mission-minded about it and it's bearing fruit. Their oldest was studying Latin and comparative philosophy at fifteen - and loving it. Each child plays an instrument, sings, dances, makes their own clothes, ... well, you get the picture.

As I send Hannah off to Kindergarten, I know I'll wonder. Should I have done it differently? Am I being too selfish? Is the world too harsh; are the teachers amoral; are the kids insensitive? Will she be scarred? Held back? Steered in the wrong direction? Maybe yes to all of the above. But if I don't have the passion to teach like Susan's mom or Juie Brister, I imagine worse things for my daughters. For now, we delight in reading stories "together" and picking out words that she can sound out. For now, I can write.


anthony said...

You are blessed.

allison said...

Sounds like The Alphabet of (Hannah) Grace. She's amazing. Relax. She'll be at Harvard by 10th grade.