The Ordinary is Extraordinary!

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Publication Date: 
April 15, 2016

From Exchange Everyday…
I was engaged in sprucing up my office area — a mammoth task — and ran across a book that Amy Dombro had sent me 28 years ago, The Ordinary is Extraordinary: How Children Under Three Learn [It's still available — it was reissued in 2001 by iUniverse.com). In introducing topic, Amy and her co-author Leah Wallach observe:

"The book is about the tremendous education you give your child simply by loving her and living with her. Recent child-rearing literature often stresses the importance of 'quality time' — time parents dedicate wholly to their children.... The hour you set aside just to teach your child is exciting and valuable for both of you, but it is only a small part of the time you spend with her, and it is not the most important part. Most of your time together is inevitably spent on personal and household routines: changing, dressing, and bathing her; cleaning the house; preparing dinner; paying the bills; doing the laundry; reading the paper.

"These everyday activities are not just necessities that keep you from serious child-rearing; they are the best opportunities for learning you can give your child and the most important time you can spend with her, because her chief task in her first three years is precisely to gain command of the day-to-day life you take for granted. Ordinary time is 'quality time' too.

"...To a small child, our chores are intriguing performances: fresh, complex, and absorbing. For children, the mundane is new, unclassified territory, and it's magical. They set about exploring every day by collecting, organizing, and reorganizing information about their bodies and their environment, about people and how people behave and communicate with one another."