"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's More Than JUST Buttons

My paternal grandmother, Della Elizabeth Cox Stout was born in the late 1800's. She went to school for a very short time, then had to quit to go to work in a mill to help support her family. Due to her limited time in school, she didn't learn to write her name and would always make her mark with an X for her signature and never learned how to read. Due to her lack of formal education, she always felt limited as to what she could offer as an educational experience. 



When I was preschool age I was always wanting someone to read books to me. I guess that lifelong love started really early. My Mama, Daddy, and older siblings were often busy and couldn't take time to read to me. My grandma couldn't read to me because she had never learned how, but she found ways to entertain me. She would often tell me stories of her childhood and she had a very special item that always did the trick. She had a cardboard box mailer that was labeled Rose Petal Perfume where she kept a variety of buttons.


She would pour out the buttons and we would sort them by color, size, buttons with two holes, buttons with four holes, buttons with no holes (the holes were underneath), and more. We would make up stories about what kind of clothing the buttons would go on and stories about the people who had the buttons on their clothes.

My grandma told me many times that she couldn't wait until I could go to school and learn how to read and satisfy my hunger for learning. Little did she know that she was one of my BEST teachers. She took the time to make me feel special. She listened to me. She made me feel important and understood. 

Not everyone has the educational background and a degree on the wall, but EVERYONE can be a teacher, if they share their passion, listen to, and make time for children. My Grandma Stout taught me so much more than she'll ever know.


15 comments:

  1. Ms. Barbara, my grandmother COULD read and write (she in fact was a wonderful published writer) and she did this exact thing with a jar of buttons. She gave us smaller containers to sort them into. She also made me dresses and always a matching one for my dollies. Then went on to set me up with a steel tub and washboard, I was responsible for washing and hanging all the dolly clothes. Some of my favorite times, and most cherished memories.

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  2. Don't you just love it when you can recall such wonderful memories? I want to be one of those memory makers, ya know? Preschoolers are young. I don't know if they will be able to look back as adults and remember all the cool stuff we did, but I take pride in knowing I'm helping form their foundation for a love of learning and believing in themselves.

    I also love that being a "teacher" to a child only requires using what you have around the house and spending time with them.

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  3. Even if they can't remember, we as parents will remind them! Because I know that I will NEVER forget the teachers like you <3

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  4. Awwww, I need to go get tissues now. Thanks, Shawna.

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  5. My grandma only went to school for 6 years. She taught me how to grow and make something out of the fruits and vegetables we picked all summer. She gave me my 1st sewing machine and taught me how to use it. She was a teacher to me all my summers in elementery school. As a new Preschool Teacher myself, I wonder just what my grandkids are going to remember about me?

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  6. Michele, I wonder if she would have thought those things would stand out to you as an adult in your memories. I know my Grandma didn't feel like she was able to contribute much to my education, when she gave me a great foundation and love for learning. I don't think it's so important that we set out to do these amazing things to give them new experiences. I think it's more important that we are present in the present, make them feel loved and safe, really listen, and make them feel valued. With that base, they will thrive.

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  7. I'm moving this week i found a note in a jewelry box from my grandma that i had saved almost 10 years ago. the only written paper i have with her writing on it. it may seem like a silly thing to save but i love it. she passed away 6 years ago. Remember every bit of your grandparents and write them down before you forget them for your own kids.

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    1. I totally agree. My mom had me when she was a month from turning 41, after she thought she was done having children. She grew up during the Depression and had many stories. When my oldest was a baby I asked my Mom to tell me stories and I wrote them all down. I typed them up and gave them to my siblings, as well. Last July 31st my Mom passed away and since I had recorded her memories, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren are able to get a glimpse into what her life was like.

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    2. Barbara, Love your story about your grandma. To visit my grandmother, we had to drive almost 2k miles. I hope my grandchildren remember some of the things we have done. My life began 75 years ago, so they will know some of the things we did, I have a file on my computer, that starts at my earliest memories and every time I think of something, it is added. My oldest granddaughter loves to read the stories. I wish my parents had been able to do this for me and my siblings.

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  8. This is an amazing story that really says a lot, not just about your great Granma and teachers and what people can offer when they really try but also about the history of education and how far we have come. I was always shocked to hear in my family that my grandma could not swim and about the depression.

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    1. Thanks so much, Lesley. I think so many parents feel pressure to do and buy to give their children happy childhoods, without realizing how important just spending quality time with them is the key. Please feel free to share the post.

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  9. This made me get teary eyed. Grandparents are such wonderful teachers. I hate that I didn't get to spend more time with mine, especially as an adult. I feel like I could appreciate them so much more now than I ever did as a kid!

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    1. I agree, Sara. My grandma passed away when I was 16 so she never got to meet my three daughters or see that I ended up being a teacher. She was such a huge influence on my life and though she felt limited in what she was able to teach me, she taught me some of the most important things. Thanks for reading.

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  10. What a beautiful post. My mum had a button box and many a special time was spent looking through the buttons together. Thanks you for sharing this post on the Sunday Parenting Party, I'm pinning to our pinterest board

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    1. Thanks so much! Though my grandma passed away when I was sixteen, I still have the buttons and have shared the story with my own three daughters, as well as through my blog. Thanks for helping share our story.

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