It isn't very often that a five-year-old turns to her mom and says:
"If God is... what's the word for no beginning and no end again? ... Eternal. If he is that then what about this?" She then points to the letters BC in a children's history encyclopedia. "This means Before Christ. So how does that work?"
It isn't often that a child make a connection between theology and history and the only reason is that, as a general rule, children are taught neither history nor theology. In the schools, at her age, students are taught about community helpers for social science and in church, they are familiarized with Bible stories, the same ones that faithful parents should be exposing them to anyway.
But, against the unspoken rules, I have included both theology and history in our curriculum for both my five year old and my eleven year old. They learn the same history and they learn the same theology, and each takes what they can from the books we read and the discussions we have.
Now, I wasn't surprised that she made this connection and used a question about history to clarify her understanding of God. She was processing some of the ideas that we had been learning about in school and in life. The week prior, we had read about the eternalness of God in The Ology (Read my review here) and we have just spent nearly six weeks celebrating the birth of Jesus during Advent and the twelve days of Christmas following, so both ideas were fresh in her mind. (I was a little surprised that she had remembered what BC stood for because it had been months since I remember telling her what those two letters meant.)
I should also point out that I wasn't planning on her making this connection either. I know that she absorbs a little of every lesson that is presented to her, but I don't know what little part she's absorbing. She could be absorbing a fact, an idea, a new word, a new way to use the English language, or all of the above. Whenever she connects two dots across subject lines on her own, she is demonstrating her comprehension of what she has learned, but more importantly she makes a little bit of her learning permanently part of her understanding of the world.
The reason that I had introduced my five-year-old to theology in the first place is because I have been putting more and more of Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy to the test. Theology and history are a part of the "full and generous curriculum" that I am spreading before my kids as a part of our morning read alouds and as a part of their assigned reading.
Even thought they had never met, Charlotte Mason understood that my daughter is a "born person" who is capable of wrestling with big ideas even though she has just begun the process of learning the skills of reading and writing. Mason's philosophy of education is a strong contrast to our public schools, where the emphasis is working on skill development while subjects like science and history take a back burner until middle school, and theology is, of course, completely absent.
Subjects like theology, history, and literature help young people put words to the interesting things they are seeing, the big emotions they are feeling, and the big thoughts they are thinking. They should be included in every child's life even if it means the mastery of writing and reading comes a little later.
This post is a part of a series I am writing about Charlotte Mason. Read the rest of the series here.
This post was shared with Weekly Wrap Up, Homeschool Blog and Tell, and Homeschool Coffee Break.
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