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by debbie harbeson

I was deep into one of the many books I've read about learning and education when Keith tugged on my shirt and asked, "Mom, are nuts also seeds?"

"Yes," I answered quickly, trying to get back to my book.

"Well, where do walnuts come from?"

"From a walnut tree of course," I replied, not lifting my head from the page.

"Oh, so my friend Aaron could grow another tree if he planted them."

I looked up. "What?" He was still there. "Oh, well, yeah. Did you finish your workbook pages yet?" I wanted to get back to my reading. What the heck was he asking these questions for anyway? We already did a unit on plants last year. Did he forget everything?

He finally went off to do something else and I dove back to my reading about what the experts say my kids need to know and when they need to know it.

But then Melissa tapped me on the shoulder, "Mom what's convex mean?" I quickly explained it to her and she stuck her belly out and said, "Oh, so now my belly is convex!"

We all laughed. Then Keith stomped around with his gut out and his arms out to his side saying, "Sumo wrestlers are really convex, aren't they?" More laughter and the next thing I know we are in a fun discussion full of interesting twists and turns.

When I had a chance to go back to my books, an idea hit me quicker than a Sumo wrestler can clear out a buffet: I was looking for my answers in the wrong place! I finally realized no matter how much I read about what a child needs to know or research the best age to study a particular subject, these authors didn't know my kids and what questions and thoughts could come up on any given day. The books were good resources but I tended to get too bogged down when reading them.

What my kids need to know are the answers to their questions. I could treat my kids as unique individuals and follow their lead, answer their questions and help them learn what they already were curious about. After all my searching, I finally found the experts.



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