Homeschooling the Four-year-old

The Screeching Halt

fourAll the training, learning, sharing, exploring, and other amiable activities of life seem to come almost to a standstill for the “four”.

This poor child stops growing for a while, around this age, and hence, nearly stops eating. Many foods become distasteful to him and his health becomes fragile.

I think all children nearly stall out as they near the four-year gate and pass through it.

Oh, but Only on the Outside

Stalled out and fragile or not, he is still alive. From within his new inactivity shell, the “four” becomes more observant. He notices that all newly-won liberties come with new dangers, new pain. Unfamiliar and misunderstood surroundings again scare him. The “four” can suddenly and seemingly inexplicably fear nearly anything: the vacuum, the dog, the dark, the lightning, or the wading pool are typical candidates for his seeming irrationality.

The Ball Is in Mom’s Court

It is a call for patience.The child who has learned Bible verses fears speaking above a mumble. The child who loves to hear stories fears Sunday School. The child who once jumped into the playdate holds back. The child who used to sparkle has fizzled out.

What can Mother do? She can tenderly understand, gently guide, and cheerfully go with the child into any fearful situation.

Her reaction to everything is important. If she inadvertently jumps at the sound of unexpected thunder, she should laugh and exclaim how surprised she was and lead him out onto the porch with her, to watch the wind and clouds.

She should sit in the wading pool with the poor dear, helping him obtain some enjoyment, overcome some fears.

She should catch lightning bugs and hold them for her little “four” to see that not all bugs bite.

She should mercifully seek ways to pull him out of himself.

Ah, but…

Mom’s aim should be to teach “Fear not.” (Luke 2:10 KJV) In fact, she should gently and gradually disengage him from behind her skirt and make at least a show of fearlessness an unavoidable requirement.

How many of us could use this teaching about courage, if only we could return to our four-year-old selves! The child who learns to fear God instead of the things God has made will go farther, faster than others will. This function of obedience to God is a concept the “four” can understand by now.

In fact, this teaching, this requiring fearlessness, can quickly lead to real trust in God’s almighty hand. As the “four” learns to categorize his fears according to the Word of God, he sometimes can see he needs God’s ability enlivening his inability.

Those who have applied careful methods all along should watch for this window. If Mother knows the child and carefully watches, she can boost the faith of the four-year-old. Many Saints have first prayed on an altar improvised of Mother’s lap. The “four” so taught always understands, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3 KJV)

What a glorious tradition!

The rest of us had to learn later. After walking in fear. After the Lord’s discipline regarding it.

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