I have been freaking out lately about my almost-four-year-old's impending education. It has looked to me like a giant mountain looming in the distance that only grows more gigantic as I move toward it on the path of days. But God is so good and has been relieving my stress gradually as He reveals the true nature of my future landscape. Yes, there is a mountain ahead. In fact, it is a mountain range but I try not to remember that detail. It is actually farther away and more manageable than I first thought. In the meantime I have looking over my shoulder and had great encouragement!
All the huffing and puffing I've been doing about the future has made me miss some very valuable insights about my present life with the kids. I realized the other day that I am taking the children to several educational (and free!) events a week. Tuesdays they go to the church nursery and are watched by Christian women as I have my women's bible study. Wednesday evenings they go to their very own bible study (and my two-year-old gets to hang with the Christian women again) where they do a craft and learn about Jesus. Thursdays they go the the local Children's Museum where I attend a parenting class downstairs and they get to explore new and interesting toys and instruments. They also go to a lovely woman's house in the afternoon to be watched while I go to my volunteer job for four hours. She is very interactive with them and during the last visit they colored David the Shepherd Boy color pages and ate gluten-free treats! Friday is story time at the library and crafts afterwards. The weekends will often find us at a local event or just spending quality time with Papa. We may even take a trip to the McDonald's playland and meet new friends and practice taking turns and following direction.
I have also realized that I have been helping them develop good habits that will help them for the rest of their lives. Things that my husband and I thought were just a given to teach your kids like: manners, respect, and cleaning up after yourself are actually huge issues of integrity that many children miss out on. Recently I noticed that my daughter is in her own competition with her little brother. I want them to be on a team and helping each other, not pushing against each other or fighting one another for our attention. So, almost by accident I have started suggesting that she praise her brother for things he does well. She's picking up the habit very quickly. They also get to share in one another's victories by sharing their rewards. I don't know if I will take it as far as sharing one another's failures, but I do want there to be compassion when the sibling makes a mistake instead of gloating over them.
When I start to stress about my preschooler getting a traditional preschool education, I just look around at how I am already teaching her valuable lessons. She may not be able to read yet but that will come. I am on a mission to create habits like holding attention for fifteen minutes at a time, respect and love for her family and all people, knowing how to recognize God's hand in the world around her, and keeping her thoughts on good and praiseworthy things instead of mean or negative things. The next time I get a tummy ache over curriculum or proper preparation or lack of organization I am going to take a deep breath, take an inventory of my successes, and ignore the mountain. I know that as soon as I turn a corner or crest a hill that God will have a surprise waiting for me that is the answer to that giant challenge. Oh, and He's been known to just up and move mountains, too.