The wise-way-beyond-her-years Stephani, who is raising three young boys in Texas and telling about it in her wonderful blog Blue Yonder, recently posted this idea (which she says is inspired by Lori's Camp Creek Blog, which truly is the original font of inspiration).
It's a simple idea, but somehow I needed it pointed out to me. When your child asks you a question you can't answer, write it down.
I've been leaning on this tired phrase: "oh, that's an interesting question. We should look that up."
I was called out on that. "Mom," my son said. "You say we'll look it up but we never do."
"What was it you asked about?" I asked.
"I don't remember anymore," he sighed.
I've carried a tiny notebook and pen in my purse forever. It says email Emily or return library books Monday--stuff like that. Sometimes it catches snips of poems or essay ideas. Often it's turned over to Leah for drawings or tic-tac-toe games in a waiting moment. Why didn't I ever think to hand it to Jacob? I don't know.
So, after reading Stephani's post, I reached into my purse for this notebook and tossed it to Jacob in the backseat. "Write it down," I said, "because I really want to know that too and we'll look it up together." His reaction was all I could hope for.
Here is a partial list of my son's research topics in the last few days, written in his own words and his own tidy, purposeful handwriting.
How tall is Mt. Everest in INCHES?
What is the gas milage of a Smart Car?
Where was President Garfield when he was killed?
What do fire extinguishers let out?
Everything there is to know about Russia.