Normally, I don't get worked up about things like this, but as I'm standing in line to drop off my daughter's preschool application I have a brief moment of unease. We're not part of the "preferred" waiting list since she wasn't enrolled in the preschool this year. I count fourteen people in front of me. What if she doesn't get into the three-mornings-a-week class that we hope for? What if there are only fourteen available slots for "unpreferred" people and they stamp the fifteenth application -- ours -- with a big, fat rejected?
I look at the parents and children in line. One mother opens a book and begins discussing it with her son, who I've gleaned is still two years old and will be enrolled in the three-year-old class next year. As they look at the book, I realize that it's no ordinary book. It's a workbook. "Yes, you're right! That is the number 73." Her voice carries throughout the room.
I feel a smidge worse.
Her two-year-old can identify the number 73? Really? Is this normal?
We're really not intensive workbook people here. We educate more by experiment and experience. We grab stacks of books and see how many we can read before I start tickling everyone or until someone requests a glass of juice or a bathroom break. We attempt elaborate architectural feats with couch cushions, clothespins, and bedsheets. We carry brown papers bag outside as we search for interesting leaves and rocks that are shaped like hearts or perfect squares or a banana.
We make sure that our children are up to snuff on their emotional intelligence -- able to discern between two distinct expressions: mad face and happy face.
Brooke's got it down cold, don't you think? And did you listen to the chaos in the background when her little sister yelled? Did you notice how she wasn't even flustered? Did you note how she persevered in the face of distraction? How she stayed the course and stayed in character?
No workbook can teach that. That's sophisticated education in action.