The Trickle-Down Effect

I walked in the school room the other day and the 4-year-old boy had written a whole host of numbers on the chalk board that I'd never taught him to write. Last time I checked, we were still working on a few letters. . .

One day, I realized that my 3-year-old, who was 2 at the time, knew all his colors because he began naming everything by color. I thought we were still working on the difference between orange and white. . .

My littlest girl, who's 22 months old, recognizes all her letters, but hates to sit down for any alphabet flashcard time. Flashcards were a big hit for her 5 older siblings, but not so much for her, so I'm thinking, how does she know this?

My oldest son, 8 years old, regularly announces how he's already familiar with the history lessons we're studying. He goes on to tell me all of what he knows, and I'm thinking, this kid is on point.

I watch my oldest girls, now 11 and 13, do more and more and I think, when did they learn that? Like I watched my 11-year-old pick up her little sister, balance her on her hip just right (Mamas, you know that classic hold I'm talking about!) and she walked on across the kitchen with her to get a cup of juice.

Then one night, my new teenager girl said she'd help this same baby sister get dressed for bed. When I peeked my head in the room to offer guidance, she had little girlfriend laid across her lap, and was changing her like a pro.

I never explicitly said, Daughter, this is the proper way to sling a toddler up on your hip. And as for teaching number writing--I had good intentions, but hadn't yet given the lesson. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t sat them down to learn any of the things mentioned above.

So, how do they know?
It's what I call the trickle-down effect of learning. 

Not everything is taught explicitly, through formal encounters and a ton of lesson plans. Some things just trickle down and the children grasp them as they come, simply by all of us being around each other, day after day. In homeschooling, there is plenty of time for togetherness.

My children aren't spending the day separated by age, grade level or ability. They spend most of every day with each other and one or both of their parents. Togetherness isn't something we carve out or schedule a time for, rather it is something we live. Life and learning go on in the same space daily and are not two different dynamics in our home.

As they say, homeschooling is a way of life. It offers plenty of opportunities to watch, listen, emulate. . .watch, listen and learn some more. And the learning isn't just from Dad or Mom--it takes place between siblings, too: games played, stories read, tying shoes, zipping up coats, passing down a beloved toy, bedtime routines--togetherness.

When children are encouraged to be around you, to be in your presence, even in the most ordinary of tasks--rather than being shooed off into a corner--it's amazing what they pick up on.

Having the chance to watch it all unfold is a beautiful thing. Keep pushing forward, keep learning as a family, keep being together, keep planting those faithful seeds. The fruit that it produces is a blessed reward.

*Originally written for Our Homeschool Forum


  1. So good to remember right before a baby comes and things are turned so topsy-turvy. How are you doing?

    1. Yep, I'm headed in the topsy-turvy direction. :) I'm doing pretty good; just a few weeks to go!


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