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@HSLJ with Andrea – Part 3: Emma Loves Libraries

Sarah is slightly more involved in social networking, mostly because she has the time. We follow each other on Twitter, send each other interesting links by email even from across the room, and we’ve used GChat to talk to Addison who now lives in another city.

There’s a great story here about emma and chat programs – 

So it hasn’t been just games and other computer programs. The kids have been given access to other related technology such as our digital cameras. We did have to make a rule about not throwing it down the sitars, but after it came back from the shop, they’ve been careful ever since. Other than showing them which button to push, we didn’t really fuss over them and make sure they took a picture "correctly". Digital cameras are great, because as long as you have a decent-sized memory card, kids can take an endless amount of pictures. We didn’t find it necessary to get a special kid’s camera either – just decent one that we would use is perfectly fine for the kids to use too. We are strong believers in letting kids use "adult" things in the house. (we let them play with knives too. πŸ˜‰ ) Showing them how to use anything without abusing it was both by example and with a brief introduction when they first tried. Yes, we also had reminders. As above, just giving them the space to explore is enough. Check out Emma’s series of self-portraits over almost three years.

I also have a good example of Emma and her love of Pixar films. She’s a *HUGE* fan of their movies and watches all the special features on the 2-disc special editions. And we let her watch them over and over and over again. She’s proven – by reiterating what she’s seen and heard – that she understands the concepts they are telling her about. I feel this reiteration is exactly how she processes it. She watches it then explains it to us until we understand (or appear to, even if it’s something we know). some of the most startling was letting her watch my anniversary edition of Schoolhouse rock.
Did I mention she turned 7 in December?

Ron also wrote about the importance of repetition back here

Just to go off on an Emma tangent – she *loves* library trips. From the time we first went and got a tour (we’d just moved into the area) when she was around 2 or so, she was serious about the fact that a library is full of books of knowledge. Some are stories and some are books to find out things. The only schoolbooks she knows of are workbooks, which she thinks are funny. She knows librarians are there to direct her to what she wants to find. "Excuse me," she’ll say, "Do you know where I could find books on animation?" I had asked one if they were bothered by Emma’s questions, but they love it! Some of them also find her a challenge because she asks hard ones and very specific ones. I think when she discovers the Dewey Decimal system it will be a fine day indeed. She was quite impressed to find related books on one subject are all grouped together. It makes sense to her. She loves her library card to pieces and was bursting with pride when she got one (She was 4.) She also gives librarians "free hugs" (see: Emma saw the youtube video and considers herself an ambassador of hugs.)

Even something as simple as a tape recorder. That’s technology right? Hand one to a group of kids with a stack of blank tapes and a bit of instructions, then let them at it. The ones who are most interested will stick at it and come up with all kinds of interesting things – again, as long as you give them the space to do so.

All these concepts are gone over again in other ways, but subtle and relevant to our life as we live it, not as some lesson interjected in there. I like to tell people I talk to the younger kids like we lived on Sesame Street. (and I mean old-school Sesame Street. πŸ˜‰ ) Just matter-of-fact and everyday, "well isn’t this interesting, what do you think about that?" kind of thing.

A short recap:
– other than general safety rules, technology is fair game. they are allowed to touch things and press buttons to see what happens.
– taking things apart has to be done with a parent’s permission. *Before* you find the tools.
– an hour or more is a better time limit than 20 or 30 minutes.
– let the kids use "grown up" things in the house.
– it usually took three months of self-immersion in a topic before they would move on to something else. My limit of watching (and nagging) was usually after a month. I’ve since learned to back off.
– never stop learning yourself.
– listen.

I don’t think we’ve done anything special or full of skill, or that our kids are all geniuses. I think all children are capable of great learning, regardless of the tools we have for them. We just have to stand back and let them use things, explore and question. I’m just their research assistant. they also see us, their parents, continually learning new things and we talk about it with them as well.