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Thursday, January 14, 2010

That's my boy!

(Yeah, yeah...long hiatus, sincere apology. You know the drill. You also know that there were some holidays in there, so we'll all get over it. I'm back. Onward and upward. Or something like that.)

So. My eldest. He's 6. And he craves knowledge. This kid is such a sponge for information, it's often like watching Johnny Five demanding "need input! more input!!"*

Okay, maybe not quite like that, but it can feel that way. I could read to him all day long and he'd be perfectly happy. He adores stories, but also frequently chooses nonfiction and reference books. At 4, he was successfully using field guides to identify (sans reading) songbirds in our back yard. And his favorite thing at the moment is documentaries.

Case in point: For Christmas, I bought him a set of dinosaur DVDs produced by the BBC. The day after Christmas, he watched one of them five times. He will still watch it up to three times in any given day, if allowed. The kid knows how to immerse.

But it's not just because it's about dinosaurs, his current obsession. I had just the happiest "this is why we homeschool" moment earlier this week. He had gone downstairs to hang out with his father, and came up asking for the "address" book. I handed it to him, and he looked puzzled. "There aren't any boats in here!" Well, no...why would there be? "Daddy said to ask for the...DADDY! I can't say it!!"

From the basement, Daddy shouted, "HATCHEPSUT!"

*twinkly lights go on in Mom's brain*

Now you're talking my language! Hatchepsut (a ruler of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt: the longest-reigning female regent, and the only to declare herself Pharaoh) was one of the remarkable people I studied in college and then went on to "immerse in" myself...to the point that one of my early Internet handles was her chosen throne name, Maatkare. Why the heck was my 6-year-old asking about HER?

It turns out that he and his father had been watching a NOVA special ("Building Pharaoh's Ship") in which a team of archaeologists and shipbuilders had teamed up to recreate one of the boats used in her famed expedition to Punt, and then tested its seaworthiness. Cool! I found one of my books on Ancient Egypt and following the broadcast, Daddy and Theo spent quite some time looking at photos of bas-reliefs and discussing what they'd' seen.

In true "immersion" fashion (and typical "repetition" young-child approach), the next night he wanted to watch the show again. In an era of DVDs and streaming video, my kids really don't grasp the concept of broadcast. (We tell good-old-days stories about how we had to wait ALL YEAR for the Charlie Brown specials, and what a big deal it was when they aired.) So, I helped him search PBS.org and sure enough, we found the video online. He sat and watched the entire thing again (with me, this time--yay! It was really cool!) and then went on to watch a second NOVA special about the mysterious Microraptor (back to the dinosaurs!).

All of this has me geeked out on so many levels. Not only is my kid fascinated by off-the-beaten-path subjects, but he is a motivated and resourceful autodidact. Instead of just asking "why" of his parents, he knows how and where to find more information, and actively pursues it. And we are both blessed enough to be involved in some of it, learning right along with him and reinforcing his own enthusiasm through our own.

* * * * *


*Geeky side note: I couldn't find the clip I *really* wanted, which was Johnny devouring books at Stephanie's house. However, I am beyond excited to learn from my brief YouTube shorts that there are folks out there who have built their own Johnny Fives. AWESOME. :)

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