The following is a post from Tabitha
A few weeks ago my husband saw a mother holding her daughter’s baby. No, not her granddaughter, but a computerized ‘baby’ for learning about human development and taking care of a new baby. Something that apparently, many American teenagers don’t learn about unless they are in a class similar to the one this mother’s daughter was taking.
Our children saw one of these ‘babies’ at church a few weeks ago as well. They were, at first, wondering why a teenager had a baby doll. I tried, and I think failed, to explain what the baby was for and why it was important. I tried to explain that this girl was taking a class about babies and needed the doll to show she knew how to take care of a baby.
My teens were slightly incredulous. Now, I know not every teenager has the opportunity to learn about small children and babies in their own home or even at church or friends’ homes. Babysitting classes and courses such as this one are probably great resources.
I grew up in a home where I was called upon to babysit, both my own siblings and families from church, or even friends of my parents who had small children. I learned every day how children learn, grow, and develop. My parents taught me all about such things and helped me know how to help these small children learn and grow as well as take care of their physical needs. It never occurred to me that there might be a more formal need for learning.
My own children are also skipping that ‘formal’ learning about taking care of babies and small children. My 13 year old changes diapers almost as well as his parents, who have been changing diapers for 15 years now (longer if we’re talking about other kids as well as our own).
My 15 year old knows how to keep order in the home when parents aren’t home, and even if we are, can sometimes be found mediating a disagreement between some of the younger siblings. My 12 year old know how to sooth a baby even if she’s not very experienced at it.
My 2 year old was holding a baby doll just yesterday, slightly rocking and bouncing as she made small, gentle noises and held the baby close. The 4 and 5 year olds run to comfort the newest baby in our home, just 1 month old, when she is upset.
They know about babies. They know that each is special and is a small person with wants and needs just like them. They are learning about what those needs are and they want to help. They know what isn’t good for her, and know what they can do to make her happy. All in age appropriate terms from the 2 year old to the 15 year old. They know…
- Babies are special
- Babies take special care
- Babies need gentle handling
- Babies can’t talk
- Babies can’t tell you what they need
- Babies cry sometimes
- Sometimes babies cry when they don’t need anything
- Babies cry when they do need something
- Babies sleep a lot
- Babies eat a lot.
- Babies can’t eat what big kids eat
- Babies need different food, mostly milk, whether breastmilk or formula.
- Babies take a lot of mom’s time.
There are many, many more things that a family can learn from a baby. However, we’re still learning ourselves, as well as teaching our children, so alongside the AP test preparation, 7th grade logic, pre-reading activities, life science, and math at all levels from Geometry to counting, we are also learning about babies.