Friday, April 28, 2006

Scotland, the brave

She's a brave wee lass to stand up in front of a crowd of folks and give a presentation.

It's painful to be the parent watching it though. Sunburst introduced herself, said, "I'm doing Scotland," and froze. Just for a minute. She stared at all the faces, turned around and stared at her display, and tried to sort out in her brain what she was supposed to do next. The crowd was very patient with her, and I watched her take a deep breath and ready herself. "This is a picture of Scotland that I watercolor painted. And there are lots of castles in Scotland..."

I almost didn't tell her about this international geography fair. I thought she might be too young for it, and I recall reading that with littles you should start geography with where you are, which makes perfect sense. You can own where you are, you can see it, smell it, feel it, and connect with it on a heart level. Formally, we haven't really done local geography. Shouldn't I get out a map of our current state and go from there?

We watch the wildlife outside our window. We see the different colored blossoms on the trees, and notice that the squirrels here are red and fat and fearless. We watch the birds and the bunnies and the deer. We walk and drive. We meet people and see things. We experience the change of seasons and stick our hands in the dirt. How can you live and breathe and not learn local geography?

So I let her jump right in. It helped that bits of Scotland are already familiar to her, that her dad plays bagpipes, and that haggis is utterly foul sounding. It helped that the Loch Ness Monster is a thing to wonder about. And it helped that we're reading Little House on the Highlands. and we have Scottish ancestry, too, just like Mary and Laura Ingalls. That pretty much sealed the deal. The heart connection was there.

And she had fun. The kids that presented were homeschoolers ages 3-16. Some of them whispered and others cracked jokes. It was a chance for homeschooling kids to come together and be a part of something bigger than themselves. And that, at least at our house, doesn't happen every day.

When it was over she turned and said to me, "Mom, I think they really liked my shortbread cookies."

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