High Tea

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
It's easy to forget how incredibly important it is to simply play. I've been guilty of this myself, especially when one of my children was diagnosed as deaf. I immediately forgot all that I knew to be true about childhood and I turned myself into the flashcard mom. I'm not knocking flashcards per se but research shows us over and over that most kids do not truly learn that way. I knew that, but I became overwhelmed with the feeling of being "behind" and I wanted Abel to rise to the top of his class and show everyone that deaf people truly can do anything. He attended every therapy, sometimes to the detriment of the rest of us. I felt guilty for carting my kids around in seat belts that equaled up to hours because of the commute. I also felt guilty if I didn't go. 
This homeschooling adventure was born out of many different reasons, but one of them was a desire to let go of what the world (or the state) tells me is normal for my child. This is a daily struggle for me. At moments, I can remove my mom brain from this situation and see that Abel (and all of my kids) do some things at a higher level than their peers. I can also see that their peers do some tasks better than each of them. That's just part of life, right? With them at home, I can monitor their frustration and plan our learning accordingly. The tea party day was a great reminder of that. We had started off the day with a lot of "work" and I hadn't structured it very well. It was too much at once and I knew I was losing them. We still had more language arts to focus on, but the struggle was evident so I told them all to go out to play and that I was planning a party for them that afternoon. In the back of my mind, I remembered my mom had gotten Saylor a tea set and I thought that would be a fun memory for them while I snuck in some read-aloud time.

I grabbed our stack of poetry books I've collected over the years and a book that Dolly Parton sent us- Chimpanzees For Tea- and began to set up a dainty little front porch oasis for the five of us. I almost told them to put on their Sunday bests, but I came back to reality really quickly with that thought. I mean, my kids are almost always barefoot and barely clothed.
People ask me how I get my children to listen to stories without pictures and I've learned a few tips, but you should know that I'm often trying to talk over them. They're still young (at least that's what I tell myself) and so they often break into what I'm saying with questions or completely random remarks. Still, we press on. My kids get at least thirty minutes of read aloud time a day. It's a stretch to force story time, especially if I'm reading poetry so I needed something where they were using their hands. If you give the children something to do quietly while you are reading to them, you'll likely have more success. Another obvious time passer is to provide food. Children learn when their bodies are fed as well as their minds. I don't worry if they're kicking their little legs, chewing obnoxiously, or giggling to one another while I read. Boys especially are known to learn better when they're moving. 

Peep those crusts in Saylor's tasting picture above. Mama has to get in on the PB&J action, too!

Anyway, this activity last week held their attention for awhile. We discussed fancy tea parties and I managed to get most of them to try green tea for the first time. We sweetened with sugar cubes and honey and devoured poems like Over Hill, Over Dale (Shakespeare), Stars (Sara Teasdale), and Casey At The Bat (Thayer). We thought about how wild it would be to forget an entire grocery list and accidentally invite monkeys over for tea. We laughed and we were together.

And we forgot all about correct pencil grasps and sounding out letters. 

We saved those for another day.

It was high tea time and thirty minutes passed time to PLAY!

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