Tuesday, June 4, 2013

learning activities

It has been a long time again since I have blogged, despite my stern resolution to keep up with it regularly.  I guess life is just taking me over.  I am busy and happy and things are going really well for us at the moment.

I have weaned Emma successfully, and it was much easier than I thought it would be.  All I had to do is wear turtlenecks constantly for about one week.  She could not undress me and other than the minor inconvenience of boiling from excessive heat at night, it was pretty tolerable.  Long live the turtleneck, world’s best weaning adjunct.

Work is good, the new town is easy to get around in, and it is summer, which makes everything lovely and pleasant.  We have a short season up north but in this short season things manage to grow, so I have planted kale, tomatoes, yellow peppers, zucchini, onions, potatoes, rhubarb and herbs – parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, lovage.  I enjoy the garden immensely.  The City has sent us as a gift a whole crew of ladies that replenished the top soil, and cleaned out the old weeds, repositioned a whole bunch of plants, and added to my meager gardening skills immensely.  The garden is gorgeous at the moment.  I am really impressed by how hospitable and appreciative of our work the City of New Town has been.  We do provide a much needed service but still, they did not have to do all this…it is so nice to be treated like a Queen, haha.

Also, I have started doing a lot of Montessori activities with Emma.  I wanted her badly in a Montessori type of school from the age of 2.5 years old, she is not yet there, but I know that it won’t happen.  We are very isolated and no such establishment is available here in our little town.  I am therefore doing it at home.  I am reading blogs of moms that are doing Montessori at home, and following books on the subject.  Every night I prepare five activities for her to do the next day if she is interested (she always is), they are on a separate tray each, and prettily presented.  They usually include pouring (water, rice, etc), transferring (with spoon, tongs, fork), fine motor skills, arts (drawing, colouring, watercolour, etc), grouping and sorting (by colour or shape) and also language (cards, books, etc).  I will be teaching her at home every morning from 7 to 9:30 or so whatever she seems interested in at that moment.  She sometimes shows interest in the piano (other than just banging on it, which she does constantly) so I will be including some music in as well.  At the moment she is more into drums, imagine that.  Noise and rhythm class, I guess…

She is doing very well in her swimming class.  She progressed from where I dreaded going (because mine was the only child screaming for the entire half an hour) to floating by herself with the belt, and lying on her back without any protest, swimming with the belt through a tunnel, and sliding off a really tall slide.  I have also registered her in a soccer class, and have no idea how that is going because MrH is taking her, but she is enjoying herself and that is what matters. 

I am quite keen on education, starting as early as possible.  I know that there  are people who say to leave the kid be a kid, but I don’t think that learning new things every day and getting better and better at something in any way subtracts from life.  Quite the opposite:  she used to be a lot more bored before I started with the teaching.  She enjoys the small accomplishments of every day, and likes to practice her skills.  I am not pushing her, but encouraging her to concentrate and to pay attention.  Her mood has improved a lot and she is more cooperative since the Montessori activities.  She is also more manageable in public, with fewer, less intense tantrums. 

The nice thing about parenting is that it is a topic of such intense interest for everyone, that one can easily find written material on all aspects of it, and wonderful ideas.  I am not very crafty though, and the schooling style that I went to included mostly abstract thinking and very little hands on.  This is why for me the Montessori approach, with beautiful tangible demonstrations of everything, from a cube or a sphere to a hundred units or the sandpaper letters and numbers is so different and a bit difficult…especially when I look at the felt or paper origami that other mothers publish on pintrest… I feel very non-crafty.   I get around it by buying a lot of the materials already made, which makes it fairly expensive.  I would say that so far, for the infant and toddler materials, I have spent about 500 $, including printing fees for printing out free cards that I am getting off the internet, and dollar store materials that are for home made activities.  It is not too bad, considering that it is spread over two years.  It also includes the books that she gets.  There are really no other toys other than a play kitchen in the basement which does not get used much yet, but I expect will be popular in the next year, in particular in winter when we cannot bike.

How much do you guys spend on toys and educational materials?  I am quite curious.  Is there a limit? Are they getting used?  And also, if your kids have outgrown them, do you keep them for the next kid, and if so how many bins of stuff can one keep?  I have decided to keep just the learning materials, and not many other toys. 

I am however going to do a cleanup this week and perhaps bring some of the older toys to the office.  We have too much. 

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