Want to begin homeschooling your child at birth? Good for you!
Want to know how? Of course you do!
The newborn requires continual care to survive, and although each human is different, each newborn has a viewpoint that corresponds roughly to his age, which, for this article, is any age up to and around age one. If we teach to their needs and viewpoint, we CAN homeschool them.
They have so much to learn!
New babies do not even comprehend that Mother is someone else, but thinks of her as an extension of their environment. This outlook causes infants to trust completely in Mother’s presence. After all, for the first nine months, she never went anywhere, right?
To capture this moment in a baby’s life, and make it teachable, Mother needs do only one thing, and it is to be constantly attentive to her baby.
This huge task needs little explanation. It is such a universal tradition, a photo of any mother tending her infant is understandable to any person, worldwide. Whether we call it a crèche, a nativity, or a manger scene, all those paintings of Mary and Jesus speak of the same tasks to all mothers and to all people. I know you know!
- To the infant, all time is one, so during napping and feeding he finds a clock of little relevance.
- To the infant, all nourishment is one, so in the sad instance of a mother’s death, goat or cow milk or formula, etc., can substitute as long as that one mouth receives that one drink to relieve that one tummy ache.
- To the infant, all good sounds are one, so hummed lullabies suffice at first and any voice can soothe. All bad sounds, even the babe’s own cries, can distress, so sometimes he’s crying because he’s in a room where someone is crying; he doesn’t know that someone is himself.
- To the infant, all pain, even self-inflicted, is indistinguishable, so he is unable to learn from experience, wanting to nurse even for teething, which makes gums feel worse.
- To the infant, at first, all humans are one, so others can occasionally help with many of the care-taking chores without disturbing him too much.
Mother must not be gone for too long, though, because the infant is inputting at all times.
What does he pick up on his tiny radar screen? The infant, so frail, who can do little more than simply exist, must learn existence is a good thing, for he will be one with it as long as he lives. The infant must learn Mother is a good and dependable thing, since Mother, indiscernible from self, is everything there is.
Of course, sometimes guessing what he needs is impossible, but what he most needs is for Mother to be there. Guessing.
In this way he learns to turn to Mother in all distress, instantly hushing at even her smell or the sound of her bare footsteps on the carpet or a certain squeak in the floor. He learns trust and mercy. He learns the safety of motherly love and the cushion of family. He learns the peace that cohabitates with constancy.
When we cause relationship and make it fun, we teach him: All is well.
This is his homeschool and we must make it good for him. How?
We can play simple, repeating games, the same way each time, such as pat-a-cake.
We can talk a lot, sing a lot, and laugh a lot.
We can gradually create schedules.
We can provide proper feeding, exercise, and fresh air.
These are the traditional lessons of infancy.
Many elements of good character missing from our society today come from missing the infancy of a generation ago. Left in bed to cry all the time with no stimuli or else wagged to and fro, fed any “milk” at any temperature, plucked up during naps, deposited into noisy rooms and drugged to sleep, thrust into freezing or burning car seats, passed from person to person to person–they did not learn that all is well.
These infants hardly knew how to be “one”, how to have a self. Not knowing how to trust a Mother–or even which mother to trust–they grew up unable to understand this blessing: “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26) They grew up not knowing the blessing from doing good, the peace of dependable habits, or the trust and respect owed to the family.
They comprehend neither how to turn to the Church when they are in need, nor how to participate in building a good Church, nor the simple importance of a good family.
The neglect of the infant’s basic, traditional, home-school needs is tantamount to neglecting not only the physical and emotional, but also the future spiritual safety and provision of this dear babe.
They learn to make their mark, though.
They turn two. Heh heh.