PART 1 OF 2 ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 1993, SHORTLY AFTER THE ADDITION OF PEARL, BABY #5.
Having a newborn has reminded us again of why we teach our children at home. Teaching your child does not begin with kindergarten curriculum, nor does it begin with a preschool program, or even with your baby’s first step. Home education begins shortly after birth; it can begin with a cuddle.
Doesn’t it seem that after you have your baby, friends and foes alike will rush to hold her? Our baby Pearl is no exception. She loves all the attention and seems to adore everyone who dotes on her. However, do not put her on your shoulder to cuddle. She will arch her back and let you know clearly that that is NOT where she belongs. Is she being difficult, acting spoiled, showing her sin nature already? If we had assumed that, then we would have missed a wonderful opportunity to nurture our baby. Instead we recognized that Pearl is a visual baby, which means that God has made her to learn best by seeing the world around her. When an individual puts Pearl on her shoulder, it limits Pearl’s field of vision and thwarts her primary objective of seeing everything. In other words, they are incapacitating her learning agenda. But by holding her against themselves, face forward, she gets to see all that they see and she is not only contented, but is still able to fulfill her consuming passion to learn. Babies are born “learning machines,” and learning is their first priority. But not all babies are visual babies.
Abel was an auditory baby, which means he learns best by hearing and experimenting with sound. As a baby, he loved to be cuddled on our shoulders, as close to our voice-box as possible. To soothe him we would merely hum and he would be so fascinated with the sound he would soon forget his discomfort.
Auditory babies are frustrated by a lot of noise because they want to sort out each sound and the combination of sounds is overwhelming. When things are dull, auditory babies can create their own excitement with various chirps, coos, and patter. Even at this tender age they delight in listening to themselves “speak.” Get used to the sound of their voice, because you are going to hear a lot of it!
A third type of baby scholar is the hands-on learner. Whereas the auditory or visual learner can accomplish their enthusiasm for investigating by sitting in your arms, the hand-on learner needs to be doing. Our Hope was such a learner and she would wiggle and squirm and moved about just for the sheer pleasure if brought her. The saying “motion stops commotion” particularly suits this style of learner. She did not want to sit quietly and had she been forced to it would not have been best for her. Bear in mind, we are not addressing areas of discipline here. There will undoubtedly be times when your wiggler needs to sit still for an exam, your auditory baby will need to be quiet during church, and your visual baby may need to duck under a blanket to be nursed. However, for the nurturing parent these times should be the exception and not the norm. The wiggler should not only be allowed to move about freely, they should be encouraged to do so. Again, thwarting this God-given drive will impede the learning process.
The first step to teaching your baby at home is to let your baby teach you. What makes your baby laugh? All sorts of tickles will amuse your wiggler but leave your auditory baby sober. However, he will squeal with delight whenever Grandpa makes a funny sound. Your visual baby will love contorted faces and other forms of slapstick humor. By doing your “homework” and studying your infant, you will discover what sort of learner he is. By determining what will soothe your baby, and what amuses your baby, you will not only have one of your biggest clues as to what style of learner he is, you will be well on your way to nurturing a lifelong love of learning.