This is a useful resource. It is not mine. It is copyrighted but barring selling it, I assume it is ok to share. ----Pat
Beverly S. Krueger
Eager to begin assisting their children down the path of life many
young parents schedule play dates, attend Mom and baby swim classes,
and busily start planning all the necessary activities to give their
baby a head start in life. At this early date they haven't yet
realized they are trying to speed their way to the moment when that
beloved child leaves their door for a life on their own. Yes, that's
a moment all parents want their children to achieve fully prepared
for the vagaries of life, but the closer you get to that moment the
more time you wish you had. By the time your child is sixteen, you
find them running willy nilly towards that goal themselves just when
you're ready to relax and take it a little slower.
With children ages five through sixteen, I've been through the new
parent "over achieve for my child" period and now face the "my baby
is going to be leaving soon" period. It's mingled heart ache and joy.
The way I deal with my younger children is also greatly affected by
this new life stage. I've started slowing down with them already.
Rather than push them on to new achievements ahead of the pack, I'm
giving them more time to be the age they are. Rachel needs plenty of
time to play house, sing to her dollies, color, dress up, and create
play dough buffets. She'll give up all these activities soon enough,
but the timing will be her own, not because I have pushed her into
more "educational" activities.
The concept "educational" activity is in itself restricting.
Somewhere along the way we have lost the understanding that the
activities commonly known as "school" are only one form of
educational activity. Learning to read, write, and do arithmetic have
been elevated to such a high plane that the other forms of learning
are pushed to the side as unworthy of much dedicated time. In the
past preschoolers were not expected to learn to read, and yet today I
receive many requests for help in choosing a reading program for
three or four-year-olds. I'm assured that the child is more than
ready to take this next step in his educational program. That may
well be, but my response is so what? Assuredly you can start a
reading program that requires only 10 minutes a day, and that really
isn't a great chunk of time to whittle out of the child's daily
schedule. But most people that insist on starting their preschooler
reading are also working on math, doing science experiments, and
finding all kinds of ways to jumpstart academics. All
this "educational" activity pushes aside the things that a child
should be doing, playing, exploring and discovering life on their own.
Most parents would be horrified to realize that they may be
unintentionally quashing their child's creative abilities by
constantly employing them in directed activities. They teach them to
color in the lines rather than give them art supplies to use as they
decide. Rather than letting them discover ants on their own, they
take them outside for a complete lecture on ants. By the age of two,
they schedule regular dates for their children to play with those
their own age ignoring the fact that two-year-olds don't yet play
socially. They tie up all their time in planned activities and events
never allowing children the freedom to discover on their own.
Creativity needs room to experiment. If children have no room to do
their own thing, they will gradually stop thinking in creative ways
and look only for the "correct" or "proper" way to do something. They
will turn to their authority, the parent, to tell them what they
should do. Later in life they will turn to other authorities.
Admittedly the over-achieving parent I've described is not the norm.
But most of us would recognize those traits in ourselves to one
degree or another. If you're naturally given to a relaxed mode of
life, don't pat yourself on the back too hard. Everyone has flaws,
it's just the organizers in life that fall prey to this need to
organize their children's lives to the nth degree.
So what should an over-achieving parent do besides sitting on their
hands and screeching occasionally? Organize their children's things.
No, I don't mean sort out their closets. I mean actively plan what
things you will place in your child's environment. Surround your
child with the tools for creative play: blocks, puzzles, dress up
clothes, dolls, cars, trucks, toy dishes, stoves, sinks, and brooms.
Be discerning in the toys you select. Are they toys that stimulate
imaginative play? Avoid electronic toys. Have bins of art supplies,
science supplies, and craft supplies that children can access and use
as they desire. If you have room, provide a stack of planks, bricks
and boxes for outdoor construction projects. Let your children raid
the linen closet to create their own tents with the dining room
table. Help them string a clothesline to hang curtains for stage
productions. Provide plenty of music tapes and an easy to use tape
recorder. Children will use these tools to build on daily experiences
and those special occasions when they make a visit to the zoo,
museum, or children's show. The day after their big sister's car wash
you may find them outside pretending to run their own car wash for
all the tricycles in the neighborhood. A visit to the zoo might spark
the creation of their own jungle room using their stuffed animals.
Allow children plenty of time to do their own thing. Turn them loose
in the back yard to dig, poke and pry keeping an eye on them from a
distance. I promise when some momentous discovery is made they will
come charging back to you to share it. As much fun as it is spending
time doing things with your children, it is equally fun to watch them
busy at their own tasks. Surreptitiously observing your children will
give you priceless memories of inquisitive faces determining that
water runs down hill if you dump your pail out on a sloping yard.
That hands on experience and many others will later confirm the
concept of gravity when they are older.
Don't let what I have said cause you to react too far in the other
direction and avoid doing things with and for your child. Many things
that children learn are learned by observing and following another's
example. When you're baking include your children. When you're
folding laundry let them help. Suggest that your daughter get out her
ironing board and iron while you iron, too. Give your son a patch of
ground to grow his own flowers from seed, showing him how to cover
each seed with just the right amount of soil and then gently sprinkle
them with water. The daily flow of life in a household is another of
the "educational" arenas that is forgotten in today's society.
Playing house is one of a preschool child's delights. It gives them
the opportunity to practice all the tasks they have seen their
parents and older siblings do each day. Although they may not
accomplish a task as perfectly as you desire, their unabashed
enthusiasm for housework will never be greater than at this age.
Letting them help you will teach them far more than you imagine.
They'll be improving their large motor skills, learn to discern
subtle differences (this window is clean, this window has streaks),
and learn to order tasks properly. All these things will help them
later when they do finally learn to read.
Don't rush your child through their childhood because you think you
are giving them a head start on achieving great things. Academics
have their place in a child's education, but they shouldn't be
allowed to force out the other important learning that a child needs
to do. As parents we want so much for our children that sometimes we
push them when it's better to let them grow at their own pace. The
key is to relax. Relax, that's a word that you will hear throughout
your homeschooling career. Even after many years of homeschooling and
parenting I still find myself needing to be reminded to relax
occasionally. It's hard to imagine now at the outset of your journey
just how much you will miss the times when your children came
trouping out in oversized shoes and clothes to invite you to a tea
party in their room. Revel in this time. The future holds equally
wonderful treasures, but they will be different treasures.
<>Great Stuff for Kids
Green Mountain Blocks Hardwood blocks that come in various shapes.
Sold in sets for toddlers on up. Sets sell from $25.50 to $68.40. A
super set is available with 128 blocks and 12 geometric shapes for
$168.80. A four block sample is available for $2 shipping and
handling. Green Mountain Blocks, PO Box 146, Danville, VT 05828.
Brock Magiscope Technically not a preschool item, but due to cost
something you should consider saving for. This is the most durable
and usable microscope available for children. This scope is
constructed of solid aluminum alloy and tempered brass, with no
exposed threads, knobs, gears, or screws. Focusing is simple brass on
brass friction, requiring no grease or maintenance. The entire
microscope has one moving part. It requires no lamps, cords or
batteries. It's not something you'll hand your two year old, but a
four year old could spend a lot of time using it after proper
instruction. Model #70 with 20x magnification is $159. Brock Optical
Scooter boards Rainbow Resource Center sells a 12' square durable
plastic scooter board with non-marring wheels. It can be used indoors
and out. Our children and many of the neighbor's children have spent
hours playing with these boards. Just $14.50 in blue or yellow. Call
888-841-3456 for a catalog.
Lauri Crepe Puzzles Lauri makes a huge variety of puzzles from very
simple puzzles with just a few pieces to large puzzles with nearly
100 pieces. We own six or seven different puzzles including a very
simple flower puzzle to an intricate castle puzzle. These puzzles can
be found at most school supply stores. Timberdoodle carries several
of the perception puzzles, a noah's ark puzzle, the fit-a-state
puzzle and two different alphabet puzzles. Smaller puzzles are just
$5.50 with larger puzzles costing more. Get a Timberdoodle catalog by
World's Best Bug Jar This sturdy plastic jar has a lid with air holes
and 2x magnifying glass. Flip down the top lens for 4x magnification.
Get this bug jar for just $2.95 from Tobin's Lab. Call 800-522-4776
for a catalog.
Giant Floor Puzzles Frank Schaffer makes some really great floor
puzzles from five foot long panorama puzzles to rectangular puzzles
with Biblical themes. Farm Country General Store sells ten different
puzzles for just $12.50 each. Call 800-551-FARM for a catalog.
Art supplies: Crayons, colored pencils, colored chalk, sidewalk
chalk, construction paper, drawing paper, tempera paint, paint
brushes of varied sizes, charcoal pencils, glue, pipe cleaners, craft
sticks, tissue paper.
Science Supplies: Dishpan, plastic beakers, graduated cylinders,
magnifying glass, compass, magnets, tweezer, paper clips, pennies,
paper cups, paper plates, cotton balls, scale, balance, children's
microscope, meter stick, yard stick, ruler, modeling clay, straws,
toothpicks, balloons, string, rubber bands, sand paper, and a funnel.
Items for this box and the art box can often overlap. Use your
judgement on which items you add for different age preschoolers. Make
sure they have access to non-messy ways of playing with sand and
water. Tobin's Lab offers science supplies at good prices. Call 800-
522-4776 for a catalog.
Dress up Box: Old shirts, dresses, skirts, pants, belts, hats,
gloves, jewelry, ties, scarves and purses. You can obtain many of
these items from sorting through your own closets. For special items
like gold high heels make the rounds of garage sales one weekend.
What you might consider unbelievably tacky to wear now might be the
highlight of a dress up box. Old formals and suit jackets can be had
very cheaply at garage sales.
Angela, are you a member of the Explore and Discover yahoogroup? We have activities for children to socialize with other children of all ages. We have more events, outings and activities than one could do in a week! People post playdates and coops there also. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ExploreAndDiscover/
We have park days, young girls clubs, field trips, crafts, swimming, bowling, Monkey Joes, etc.
Hope you'll check it out. It is free and most of the families are homeschoolers, or families with young children. The challenge with any gathering is finding a location for a large group of busy kids to gather. We meet at the 521-Rec Center weekly and there are activities at the library also. Plus all of the other fun, social events.
There is also Music Together, which we loved! http://www.musictogetherofcharlotte.com/ And play gym activities, which are more geared for young children to move about as they are intended. It really is difficult for children to sit quietly for any gatherings at such a young age.
We have project baskets at home where I keep all the bits and items together for a project. I store the baskets on the book shelf and we pull one out and play and then it all fits back in the basket: markers, stampers, construction paper and safety scissors, glue and bits, glitter glue, paints, playdoh, yarn, popsicle sticks, colored pencils, cookie cutters, etc.
Our son loves to help me cook and bake. He has been cutting things with a knife since he was about 18 months old, with supervision, of course. And he's helped me to cook on the stove since about age 3. We just talk about which parts are hot, etc. He loves to crack eggs, stir batter, make cookies, make sandwiches, set the table, wash the dishes, carry in groceries, etc.
Most of the Montessori goal is to create a 'home environment', you already do that at home. :-)
However, *I* needed the social outlet of being with other moms, so I had a weekly playdate (for me, lol), ever since ds was about 18 months old. Would something like that be fun for you? There are a lot of mamas on EHA with young children. You are welcome to start a 'Kids under age 2' group, or something like that. Or, 'SW Charlotte playgroup' or whatever, to find other AP mamas with young children. I know there are a bunch here!!
And I wasn't ready to leave ds somewhere without me, we were too attached. We both needed the other to be close by, but many people told me we needed to be apart. Nah, we love being together. :-)
My children have attended The Children's Schoolhouse, located on Rte 115 in Huntersville, NC. It is a Co-Op, mixed age pre-school and transitional kindergarten. It is a wonderful place that fosters creativity and freedom and independence in children (and not affiliated with a church). However, the youngest age admitted are 3 year olds through 5 year olds. I am not aware of a Co-op that has preschool for younger children. Good luck!