What Workbooks Don't Teach

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.

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  1. Danielle CooperFebruary 22, 2012

    So cute! We are not workbook parents either. I can't seem to keep my kids entertained long enough to do such things. They are normally running around, building inside tents and throwing all their clothes out of their drawers. Side note: my house is never clean. Oh well. I can relate so much!! And you know what, I think it is better this way.

  2. Love!  We don't do the workbook thing either - and I have a degree in early childhood education!  Workbooks can't teach life lessons and I'm sure your girls are learning everything they should be!

  3. A workbook for a 2 year old?? You got to be kidding! My 2 year old is still figuring out 1 to 10 and I'm in no hurry to teach him the rest. Earlier I used to compare P's development to every other 2 year old. But it was too stressful! Now I'm just happy if he's happy and smiling :)

  4. She has a ridiculously beautiful happy face.  
    The mean snarky side of me wonders if the mom staged that whole workbook performance in the preschool line so she might impress the administration. 
    The kinder, gentler side of me says, "Oh, how....nice...for her."
    You are a fantastic mom and your children are awesome.

  5. And you can officially start following me around saying nice things about my children and me, okay?

    I was wondering if there was an ulterior motive, as well, even while trying to believe the best.

  6. Yes, if the phrase "resistance is futile" is good, then the phrase "comparison is futile" is even better.  Yes, they're individuals!  (And smiling and happy individuals are just the way they ought to be.)

  7. Ha!  Is anyone's house ever clean if they have kids?  :)

  8. You always make me feel good, Lisa!

  9. Workbooks are overrated.  All grown-ups know the number 73, but they don't all know they're LOVED.
    Visiting from Top Mommy Blogs...hope you'll come enter my "What To Expect" giveaway and come visit www.theexecmom.com
    Lovely to meet you,

  10. oh that was precious. Thank-you. 


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