There is an unwritten rule when discussing your child. You never talk about what they aren’t doing. Instead you memorise their list of achievements. The more academic those achievements sound the better you are as a mother. Well that’s pretty simple isn’t it?
They’re not yet out of nappies but they recite the alphabet, can count …to 10 and by gosh did they just recognise a word? They’re clearly bordering on genius as an under 2 early reader. The push is to advance them. .. explicitly teach what you might typically expect a 4 year old to start being interested in.
What scares me is the linear push. The narrow field of knowledge by which untrained parents guage their child’s success in development. The measure is the shallow depth of the 3 R’s and facts rather than joy of learning and the ability to question and find out answers.
Surrounded by books! She is such a busy girl yet can settle so contentedly with her books.
Of course I read with Miss Bee and she adores reading by herself too. Books are freely available in her “book nook”. If she eventually learns words before starting school it will be in the context of having had books read with her and her loving books. It will be from her choosing to engage with them. It won’t be reading from a flash card that’s for sure.
But I want so much more for her than the 3 R’s. I have so many experiences planned that I almost need her to have two childhoods. Instead I need to take time. Slow down. Instead of a schedule of hurried tick lists of a modern childhood.
Savour those quiet moments where she can just be a kid exploring life in her own time, with her own agenda.
I want my much waited for Miss Bee to be immersed in experiences that build “skills” that are invisible to some people. Weird skills that most people don’t even think about. Things like a natural curiosity, the desire to question and seek answers, to invent, compassion, manners (that seems forgotten), balance, fine motor dexterity, artistic appreciation and an understanding and respect of the diversity and beauty of the world we live in and of course a love of people with a healthy assertiveness so she isn’t squashed by uncouth louts.
When the time comes to read and write and most importantly think I want her to have a broad pool to dip into. A pool rich with memories and a future childhood that will dynamically grow with her. I want her to have a spectacular sweeping view of life rather a narrow macro view- the academic skills view.
This whole Twelvetimes concept is working well for me. Who would have thought that I would respond to a schedule? I’m not exactly known for being an organised type. I’m often more the disorganised type. Well that’s not entirely true. Over the years I’ve had to be organised for some things. Like work. Like Christmas. Like birthdays. Big things where dropping the I’ve got my life together mask makes other people notice. You can’t really forget to buy Christmas presents. .. Can you? Actually I know of a guy who did. He ended up buying very expensive gifts at a Hyatt gift shop on Christmas Eve because all the other shops were closed.
I tend to plan those big MUST NOT FAIL events that have an established date in advance. It was all the “one day”, no set date events that were being lost. Events that if you forgot, shrugged your shoulders on or let other everyday life things over shadow…. Well who’d know? Well. ..I knew. But the funny thing is even if nobody else knows I’m slowly knitting the next top for Miss Bee I KNOW.
The bit I need to convince myself on better is the good enough bit. I confess that despite having made craft, dyed eggs with the family and had an epic Easter egg hunt I still hear an inner voice saying “that’s great BUT you didn’t make hot cross buns like you’d planned. The Easter cookie cutters didn’t get out of the drawer this year either.” I sigh at myself disappointed. Miss Bee would have love to decorate cookies. .. sigh. I guess I’ll have to just make random cookies. .. Rabbits are cute any time of the year aren’t they?
The play today was nature inspired for Miss Bee. She’s been really interested in the garden and lately I’ve been showing her that some leaves and flowers have a scent. She will rub her hands along leaves and sniff her hands. We’ve tried Rosemary, gum, coriander and lavendar flower stems. Being careful to avoid bees.
Today we picked and smelled some Roses. Important to stop and smell the roses! Then I broke out my latest find at good old Kmart, a $7 test tube vase track with 5 tubes. Bargain!
I filled the tubes with a variety of dye colours from our recent egg eggsploration over Easter. Leaving one clear.
I’m rather impatient and luckily this experiment was quite fast result wise.
Within half and hour they were changing! Now the weird thing is the cheap Queen dyes worked brilliantly whereas the expensive Wilton gel didn’t really work at all. See. .. told you it was weird.
Blue Rose. ..
Purple (Wilton) Rose
They look really fun in their rainbow coats. I can imagine dyeing them to coordinate with party colours.
Next I presented our collection of nature (from our yard and walks) on a tray with a few old favourites. Then got the playdough out. I retinted it to capture her attention.
This is a bit blurred but the kid is a speed demon.
I showed her how to make an imprint.
The third unplanned natural moment was her leaping fully clothed wearing her good leather shoes into the dog water bowl. .. Not quite what I’d hoped for!
This ends another day with Miss Bee.
A forum I follow recently asked readers what philosophy they follow for their children.
This was an interesting question and a chance for me to tease out my current beliefs. My basic training is as an Early Childhood Teacher. Naturally I draw on those years of University training but I also draw on wider reading and the “University of Life”. The latter has really been my most rich training ground, a place where I can experiment and apply ideas. Forget about ideas that seemed good but ended badly.
I have never been one to take a single idea and run with it. It is my nature to explore, research, question and reinvent the wheel to suit the car. The “car” being the individual child.
I think ultimately the best Philosophy is dynamic and responsive to the child, the environment and the opportunities that come along. Sometimes we create the opportunities (like my Twelvetimes) other times opportunity appears like the Skink that the cat was trying to catch today that captured our attention unexpectedly.
My basic philosophy has built from the premise of the child being capable and respected. I am interested in the Kathy Walker approach but I also draw from the likes of Reggio, Montessori, Bronfenbrenner, Gardner and Vygotsky. I prefer to offer open ended play, a range of materials with a preference for natural.
I like activities that make children think and problem solve, I like to supervise risk taking play. When I can offer the real thing I will- if I can’t I offer the closest representation I can. I hate character themed and gaudy battery operated plastic toys. I think if her clothes and play table look immaculate then she didn’t get to have enough fun.
I’m introducing concepts from “How to talk so kids will listen and listen do kids will talk” as an overall behaviour guide. I like to teach concepts in context.
I want her toys to be less available but better presented- we offer toys on trays in baskets and set up as “invitations to play” on small cotton mats.
Books are central and many include non fiction with photos if possible. Art with real materials is offered daily. Outdoor play is free exploring with different materials “lose parts” to extend play.
Lots of sensory play.
I’m passionate about the early years .. That’s the philosophy I’ve come to believe in after years of early childhood teaching and parenting.
I think the simple basic keys are LOVE, TIME and EXPLORATION.
- Love. If you step into something with a loving heart, joyful and passionate your child will learn much about our world. If your child is allowed to experience love from a wide network they will feel surrounded in a blanket of love. Love of self. Love of nature. Love of books and beautiful things, different things and places. Love of family traditions. Love of life.
- Time is critical. Slow it down. Don’t rush them through childhood with adult notions. Give the extra time to let them revisit and extend on play and creativity- that’s when the magic happens.
- Exploration. Explore their world, places, senses, foods, people and knowledge. Explore alone. Explore with a friend. Explore with family. Let them be curious.
Oh and teach them how to be respectful and kind! This world needs more people with compassion.
Grab this approach for yourself too… it’s never too late to live life, experience love, explore this world or grab opportunities.
The best teaching tool is you as your child is watching you embrace life.
This is Miss Bee looking through the floor of a glass bottom boat aged about 6 months.
Great excitement at our house as the Easter Bunny left a trail of eggs in our garden!
So much chocolate so little time….
On good Friday we dyed eggs. It was very easy but I still have dye on my hands. Oh well…
We tried oil crayon resist eggs and hot glue gun (well obviously Miss Bee helped rather than did that one alone!) Yikes. The trick is add vinegar to the dye and water. About a tablespoon in around 1 cup of dye will ‘eat’ into the shell so the dye stains it. Just a word on the hot glue gun eggs- they say “peel off the glue” as if that is easy. Perhaps I used extra strong glue but it ripped of bits of the shell with it. Just a heads up on that!
Other Easter craft included Miss Bee’s favourite current thing- STICKERS!!!! on a simple cut out shape of an egg and Easter Bunny on Easter Scrapbooking paper I bought on sale.
We were feeling a little lazy but I decided a promise is a promise. Today was picnic and park day. It was so beautifully mild and sunny I literally had no excuse.
It was at 3.30pm I quickly buttered two sandwiches (yeah. confession it was lunch- but don’t fret over Miss Bee she grazed) sliced an apple and cubed some cheese plus three of the dyed hardboiled eggs we’d made the day before. Our picnic was ready. Nothing flash but all good peasant style food and yummy. GOOD ENOUGH! Trust me it was delicious and Miss Bee was in heaven scoffing her egg.
For our picnic we went originally to Weston Park, but while a nice place for a picnic it is not very toddler friendly. Water play everywhere and then toddler play equipment I recalled from ages ago was long since replaced along with removing the very cool stuff like the wooden cubby house I remember climbing as a child. The “submarine” as we called it was gone too. It was this concrete maze of a thing with drops and tunnels to climb through. God I loved that thing. But in this day and age the nanny state deemed it no longer safe so instead there were two swings on the same spot that used to amuse up to thirty odd kids at a time. We abandoned the plethora of water and decided we’d better go to a different park altogether. Previously in our search for suitable playgrounds we’d found the site “playground finder” and seen this park Yarralumla Park. Luckily we had driven by the park and checked out it’s suitability a different day (when Miss Bee was sleeping). It was in the same area and literally 5 minutes away! I was about a million times better. Honestly I haven’t see a park this cool yet so unknown for a long time.
The Yarralumla park is next to the school (but not on school grounds). It has moderate shade and by far the coolest thing is a natural made cubby using branches around a tree (in my humble opinion).
We will definitely go back to this park! It has many cool things which will challenge as she ages. There are lots of different equipment along side the traditional slides and swings. There is a listening pipe, balance poles and a platform staircase of sorts. Plus a double slide! What kid wouldn’t love that!??!!! There is a fence to corral the little ones (but it’s not fully enclosed) and at least one picnic table but no BBQs. There is a HUGE climb in/on rotating merry go round thing for older kids which looked so fun. Parking is available on site but is dirt. There are no toilets which is a downside. It is about a 2 minute drive to the Yarralumla shops which have toilets on the corner of Bentham and Hutchins Street. If you were feeling like coffee you could stop and get a takeaway one at the shops to take with you to the park!