Pregnancy is, for most people, an amazing personal and family event. It is a marvelous emotional and physical transformation, and, for many, a true gift from God. The anticipation of baby #3 is certainly all of those things for us. But, because we're homeschoolers, it's also something else... the educational experience of a lifetime!
Poor kid. He's not even born and he's already the best science experiment ever.
Yes, in true homeschooling fashion, I'm determined that this pregnancy be a great learning opportunity for my girls. One of the things that I love most about home education is the ability to merge academics with real life – the connection between facts and real world application. That "school" gets done along the flow of living, and that education becomes holistic rather than compartmentalized. What better way to make biology applicable than to celebrate the development and birth of a new member of the family?
So the past few months have been a fun time for exploration, new knowledge, and anticipation. I am a "natural" kind of gal, and have done home births with all of my children. This upcoming birth will also occur at home, and my daughters are going to be present for at least some of their baby brother's birth process. Consequently, we've been preparing. Books, internet sites, videos, and e-mail updates have all been part of our journey. We've also spent plenty of time looking at photos from scrapbooks of my pregnancies with my daughters, and their baby photos. Unlike some of our academic subjects, there is never a complaint about learning this topic! Here are some resources that can be helpful in doing pregnancy the homeschooling way (Amazon links are affiliate links):
- Sign up for e-mail bulletins from pregnancy websites such as BabyCenter.com. If you put in your personal information, such as pregnancy due date, you can receive weekly e-mail updates which provide information about the baby's development for each week of your pregnancy. There are also wonderful digital videos available that visually display the baby's development at each stage, as well as the process of birth.
- Read informational books such as A Child is Born by Lennart Nilsson. This amazing book provides not only factual information about conception, pregnancy and birth, but includes phenomenal photos of the baby at each stage of development from fertilization to birth. Nilsson also has a book specifically for children, entitled How Was I Born (ages 5 and up). Also, for younger children, consider What to Expect When Mommy's Having a Baby, by Heidi Murkoff (an excellent simplified explanation for children about conception, pregnancy and birth), Baby on the Way by William & Martha Sears (and their companion book, What Baby Needs), Our New Baby by Wendy Cheyette Lewison, or The New Baby at Your House by Joanna Cole.
- Watch a Baby Story on TLC. Record episodes and watch together with students. This 30-minute show follows the experience of individual families as they prepare for and experience birth. The birth process is shot primarily from the woman's head, and private parts are blurred.
- Read fiction books for children, such as Happy Birth Day by Robie H. Harris, Welcome With Love (a story of a home birth) by Jenni Overend, Arthur's New Baby Book, by Marc Brown, Angelina's Baby Sister, by Katharine Holabird, The New Baby, by Mercer Mayer, The Berenstain Bears' New Baby by Stan & Jan Berenstain, or I'm a Big Sister/I'm a Big Brother by Ronne Randall.
- Check out surgerysquad.com to have older children participate in an interactive virtual cesarean section surgery or natural childbirth. Students get to virtually participate in each of the steps of a c-section by following the directions of the audible "surgeon". This is a great way to help older children understand the processes involved in a c-section birth.
- Investigate videoofbirth.com for actual videos of live births. Includes all types of births, including water births, and births with complications. Please use discretion and preview all videos before viewing this website or showing to students, as this site includes explicit birth images. BabyCenter provides birth videos, such as birth with an epidural, water birth, and c-section delivery. Viewer discretion is advised.
There are so many benefits to making this pregnancy part of our educational experience. My daughters are gaining incredible scientific knowledge, and are quite well versed now on the development of a fetus and processes related to birth. But there have been many other pros as well. It's given us a relaxed, comfortable foray into the subject of "the birds and the bees" – a subject most every parent stresses about how to tackle. It has given my children an awareness and appreciation of the miracle of life. It has also prepared them for the familial changes that are coming, and helped them to recognize and understand their upcoming roles and responsibilities as older siblings. But most positively, this process of "homeschooling" around the pregnancy has enhanced their excitement and anticipation around meeting their new baby brother, and solidified their love for this precious new member of our family.