Stories From The Tolbert Home

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Let Them Be Little

Today I have time to sit and drink my coffee and do a little writing! Want to know why!? My children {ok half of them} are responsible! After many years of training I feel like I am seeing the fruit of my labors! The girls woke up this morning, did their chores {yes, they do still grumble a bit;and need reminded} but it was done in an efficient manner.
They made their own breakfast, cleaned up, began their school work. They then came down stairs and made themselves lunch. Ava even offered to lay Hudson down for his nap so I could eat my lunch. I did not think it would hurt anything; Dana does this regularly (she thinks she is his other mother) so I humored her....she came down in 2 minutes..."mom he is asleep" gasp...That boy has this things for making me sweat before he closes his busy eyes for ME, but for those girls he just passes out while they sing highly offends me.

As mature as my girls are seeming these days, I have to say what has my heart feeling more grateful than ever... is the realization with my second daughter..Ava Jane. I have been blown away as of late with her education.

A little background.

Ava is the second child/the baby of the family for 5 years {nuff said}

She is my free spirited child. Nothing bothers her{it takes a lot}. She has never been in a rush to do ANYTHING. If you've ever heard my stories of how it took me 3 years to potty train her then you know what I am saying. She was not the fastest talker. She really did not try and speak much until well after 2. She then had major speech issues.

Going back a little further let me give some background on my eldest. I say that in my British accent because it just so perfectly describes my eldest. She is the first born, my head strong, OCD-OVER THE TOP, must be organized, must succeed, must make impressions, cares what everyone things, manners loving little lady. She will give her husband a run for his money one day, Lord help me to tame that down some.

When she was 2, she potty trained within 3 days. Since that day that she had her last accident, she has been eager to grow up. We began looking for preschools that would take a 3 year old. We were just as eager as she to see her succeed. She attended P3, P4, then off to kindergarten. I found a private school that we thought would fit her well. They insisted she should know how to read before beginning. I was a bit worried as she did not know how to read because-in my day- kids learned to read in kindergarten. She was reading, writing full cursive stories by November of her kindergarten year. They were such an excellent school and it was fun watching her thrive.

We have always enjoyed watching Dana push her self in her education, but there is always a frustrating attitude that she battles. She "gets" it all. But struggles to have joy with her education. She times..but for the most part she definitely would rather go play.

When Ava started to be of age to start preschool when Dana did, I could not bring myself to put her in. She just wasn't "mature" enough. Age 3 came and went and I did things with her at home putting the pressure on myself that she needed to begin learning. Age 4 came and again I just didn't feel right about beginning her education. More pressure and feeling like the worst mom for allowing myself to treat child #2 just as everyone said "more relaxed."

She then turned 5 and I said okay let's start is time! I ordered everything! I decided to homeschool her because we had begun homeschooling Dana so we might as well! I spent a month or two working tirelessly with Ava and she just was not catching on. She never acted frustrated, she is pretty happy spirited. She just wasn't ready. Again I beat myself up and hated it when people would ask how school was going. I cringed. I thought maybe she had learning disabilities. I put the curriculum in a box and just began reading her books and allowing her to play and skip the typical school time we had set up in the mornings.

The next fall we started again. I was so frustrated at first because again, it did not seem like anything was sinking in. She was about to turn 6 and I knew at this age Dana was already reading, and here was Ava struggling to recognize the alphabet! I stressed out and considered all my options. I then decided I would just do one paper or so a week. So we tried that for a bit. I then decided we would just continue doing our reading ( I read the girls books that are not picture books, from a young age and have them dictate back to me, it's very good for their mind and patience)! I decided that I would get out the letter flashcards and skip the "paper work" WOW She had so much fun!

Each day I just would tell her to go and grab her little animals or dolls and we would do math. We would line them up and learn first, second, third. We would do patterns, we would do order. We would get out our letter cards and find other sounds in the house to match up. We did play-doh. We painted, puzzles, reading...not a lot of paper. The summer came of that year and Ava was beginning to be able to write. Would you know that I still was feeling shame that we did not touch that "paperwork" too often!?

First grade came and she was now 6 almost 7. Her eagerness to learn came that summer, so we started before the typical school time. She was eager to start writing on paper. I began to give her her first grade phonics and math books. She enjoyed it, but for the most part we took it slow! She began to sound out blends more and was able to slowly read a few things. She took speech therapy and we got her glasses that winter and we noticed her reading begin to take off. It was slow, and not comparable to her sister but it was beginning!

Here we are in the fall of her 2nd grade year. All of that (sorry so long) to tell you that girl began her school work in the summer( LOVES beginning early) she is reading like a champ, and writing beautifully! I do not mean to compare my girls at all, they both have strong talents, but I am so impressed with the neatness and care that Ava has with her education. She responsibly sits down each day with her goals in front of her and busts it out! She truly has joy and seems like she was born to learn. Which she was..

I was over the top worried for her, I cried many times. She has truly taken her time. She has done it on her own terms. She would have been placed in special education in school, and without a doubt been on ADHD meds.

I placed so many boundaries on her thinking that she would not be able to do this or do that and as I have begun to take off those boundaries and see what a beautiful mind that girl has I am amazed at her smarts and her talent.

I was not going to let her do bible quizzing this year. They learn a total of 250 verses and compete. She begged, I gave in {hesitant, not wanting to see her fail} and she is memorizing so well! She is ahead of me! I let her take piano last year {another thing I was nervous she would get frustrated at} and she is still going strong!

Mama, be encouraged with your free spirited child that would rather eat the pencils than write with them, who would much rather poop their pants and watch tv than to go to preschool, who looks at books and makes up her own story rather than sound out the letters. They are learning.

One of the most beautiful things about homeschooling, and probably the reason I keep going with it is learning how each of my children learn.

Ava would be considered "behind" last year. She is now what I would consider right on time if not ahead of where others were at this point. She somehow without me working too hard caught on to reading, phonics, math, and just "gets it." Go with your gut for their education and do not worry about your neighbor. Whatever resources you need to use, use them. If your child is not meeting up to other's standards shut them out. They will catch on, they will succeed; keep loving them, keep trying different things, keep fighting for them.

And let them be little.

If you are struggling trying to decide when you should start your child in kindergarten I highly suggest researching starting them later. They may be old enough and well smart enough, but sometimes starting them before they are mature enough can lead to much frustration. They have forever to be in school, and only a short time at home. Enjoy it, it goes by so fast.


  1. Love this!!! Your such a wonderful Mommy!!!

  2. Amen! Such a homeschooling testimony! It never occurred to me before, but you are right... She would have been held back and medicated. And look at her now! Awesome!