Thursday, February 11, 2021

The hundred languages of homeschooling

When I finally climbed out of bed yesterday morning and trudged into the living room, my four-year-old happily greeted me: "Look, Mom! It's the Master Sword!" As he gestured towards his Magna Tile creation, I couldn't help but think of our recent homeschooling adventures.

On several mornings, we curled up on the couch with one of Akira Himekawa's Legend of Zelda mangas. Sandwiched between my preschooler and my two-year-old, I'd hold the baby and read for nearly an hour straight. The baby would watch excitedly before nursing or falling asleep (or both), as the boys would point to the pictures and ask questions about the story. When my voice grew weary, I'd leave to work on chores so the boys could entertain themselves. Inevitably, Link, Ganondorf, and Zelda would drift in and out of their imaginative play. 

Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio-Emilia approach to education, once wrote that "The child has a hundred languages." I find myself draw to these words as I see my children engage with the world in their own unique ways. 
My children scribble on paper and create drawings of the Master Sword, they ask questions about the characters, and they reflect on the events that shape Link and his friends. What I once assumed was a frivolous video game franchise has become a real opportunity for learning in our home (it brings to mind the "Continent of Learning" that Julie Bogart discusses in The Brave Learner).  For example, it encourages problem solving (if breaking jewels destroys the Twinrova's curse, why doesn't Link break the jewel on Ganondorf's forehead? my four-year-old asked when we read Ocarina of Time), helps reinforce the importance of free will (as we see the battle of good vs. evil play out, we continually talk about the various choices characters make), introduces my kids to a unique art style, and fills their ears with gorgeous music. 

As I look back on the past several months of homeschooling, I'm noticing the ways that my husband and I speak to the different "languages" or my children. Beyond Zelda, we have been reading various picture books, watching the show Redwall, painting pictures, and talking about God and the saints. We've dipped our toes into poetry memorization, and we bake loaf after loaf of bread together (grinding our own wheat continues to thrill us). Most days feel like a complete mess of chaos, but we're enjoying ourselves. 
"The child has a hundred languages."
I try to implement these words in our homeschooling life, and I find myself wondering if they can hold true for us adults, too. Every adult was a child once, and I don't believe we ever really lose our thirst for learning and creative expression. It may be tucked deep within us, hidden, and silent. 

Let's awaken it. Let's dare to hope and dream and explore the different ways that we can learn and communicate with the world.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ann-Marie! It's been quite the adventure over here :)

  2. What a wonderful way to view education! Your homeschool life sounds so varied and enriching.

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! I really need to stick Malaguzzi's entire poem on my wall to help me remember this when I think about how our homeschooling life looks so different from that of other people ;) Every family certainly does it differently, and it's been a good way to stretch myself as I think think about what best serves and enriches the life and education of my particular kids.

  3. Yes, I love this poem! I first learned of it in my education courses in college. I think you nailed it - everyone homeschools differently and there is beauty in that.