Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Brooke Turns 6

Our oldest, Brooke Ashley Barnes just turned six years old. She is growing into such a beautiful and sweet girl. We love our adventurous, creative, practical, helpful, girl who never runs out of energy and wants to do it all. 
We spent the day at the pool, happy girl!

What does a travelling girl get for her 6th birthday? A coin purse, a fishing net, a travel journal, a floatie for the pool, and a travel backgammon game. 

She painted the happy birthday banner and although Jeff bought one, hers was much better. 
Ice cream cake, given by the lady who owns the building, so nice of her to give, and much prettier than our typical homemade cakes.


I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on her life and think about plans for the next year. How is she adapting to this life on the go and how does she feel about it? Difficult to answer I suppose, there are pros and cons of course... But, I think it is very telling in that her current aspiration is;

"I want to visit every country in the world and then go back and live in America and be a chef and teach people about food around the world." Pretty cool if you ask me! She does have really good taste and isn't afraid of trying new foods. I really love cooking with her. 
So, Brooke how do you feel about travelling and moving around like we do?
"Well... I like travelling because I learn a lot and learning a lot is fun. Like... if someone brought you something from another country you can learn about that country and those people."
 Brooke, how do you feel about homeschool instead of school?
"I like homeschool because I get to choose when I do things and what order. In school, you have to only do what the teacher says." Following an attendance of The Nutcracker Ballet. She says... going to school would be like going to a performance every day, that would be boring!"
She attended a reading class in Prague that was interesting to see how she adapted to a real school like setting. She says... "well, I didn't like when we had to sit in a circle in the beginning and end. I don't like sitting cross legged."  She's never really liked participating in circle time, even as a baby at mommy and me class. "And, we had to finish the writing part before we could color the picture" 
She also wants to read every book she can. No subject or length or difficulty is discouraging to her. We are currently reading Robinson Crusoe and many of the Beverly Cleary books, which I remember dearly from my childhood. I just have to try to find the best books to suggest and commit enough time to reading. We read at least an hour every night, its one of my favorite times of the day.

She is genuinely curious about most things she encounters. She doesn't typically want to know all the facts or details about a discovery, she wants to make it, create it, capture it, etc. She is definitely a hands on learner and I am glad I don't feel the pressure to suppress this tendency.

What about her education? Well, we have a variety of homeschool resources we  keep available for them to use when they are in the mood. Reading and math workbooks are considered activity books that are fun because I never require them to use them or enforce a schedule. She is really quickly learning to read and her  understanding of math quite astounds me. Everything I've read is proving to be true. Making learning natural and letting them set the pace, actually works!

True, if I only had one child we'd probably be more advanced academically. But, she is learning other things every day that I am starting to value much more. Good moral character and the ability to get along with her siblings. This is an ongoing challenge every single day, but there is clear progress. She is often saying lately, "I feel good when I'm nice to people!" What a revelation!

What about socialization then? People probably wonder... what about friends their own age? Well, I admit this is one of the cons of a life on the move. I would love to have more kids around to play with more often. We recently spent some time with some Australian kids that they really enjoyed. But, we also had a playdate last month with an English girl aged 7 that seems nice enough and after awhile of playing with her, Brooke says, I think I want to play with my sister now... Every day they get a little better at playing with each other because they have to.

Socialization come in different forms. At the moment, we have a new friend here in Croatia. She had been quite friendly to us despite language barriers. Brooke made her a card, I love how she does this... and the woman knocked on the door on Brooke's birthday with a beautiful plate covered in flowers, with a chocolate bar and a necklace. What a good life lesson, the kindness of strangers...

Brooke will undoubtedly help us lead the way as the first child blazing her own path through life and learning. We are very lucky to be along for the ride. 

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