Saturday, January 28, 2012

Two is the first of many "awkward" ages.

There's been a lot written about the "terrible" twos, and I'd admit that there's a little something to all the fuss, but it's hardly the worst period in one's life.  It's more the culmination of independent thought that's been building for 6 months or more.  There aren't even any hormones involved (as in puberty and menopause).  So, it came as no surprise to me that Astrid showed up one morning in a mood previously reflected by "I don't want to go ; I want to go back to bed!" 

I had paints ready for her that day, and there certainly wasn't any need to eat breakfast BEFORE doing the sticker exercise that I always leave on the little table in my office for her, so I suggested that dad just leave her when she chose to do the sticker exercise before breakfast.  That was about a week ago and I think she's done the sticker exercise every day since before choosing to eat. 

Painting is a great way to "expel the demons", and I suspect the famous painters of old had their share of demons to expel. 

I didn't even bother to don her paint smock -- this new paint washes out readily anyway --- and I pulled a chair over so she could sit while painting.  When she was done painting (using both brush and hands) the demons had been expelled and she was once again happy and (what most of us notice more) compliant.  We had more fun together that day than usual. 

Tomorrow is another painting day.  I try to fit one in each week even with the added time-waste of a Mickey Mouse video.    I also try and fit in a bath play period once/week because we have a huge bathroom tub in our master bathroom that we never use.

  Until now, we'd been adhering to recommendations that children under two years old watch zero TV/videos.  Somehow she learned of Mickey Mouse, though, so I started searching out free MM club videos. 

Local weather has been pretty spring-like lately, so we've been taking walks each time she's here, as well.  Last Friday we had magnets I'd ordered, so I tied two of them to pencils and we "fished" for objects on our walk.  She caught a pretty big screw.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 begins.

As usual, Em and I fell asleep before the new year; we don't even TRY anymore to stay up.  I got a wall calendar sometime last month that's kindof a do-it-yourself, start whenever you want thing designed with kids in mind, so I started it and have been jotting down little references on the days.  For instance, today is not JUST New Years Day, but also Dad's Birthday (Astrid's dad).  The calendar came with lots of stickers for holidays and family/school related things, so I'll use those as well as write in "made cake-mix cookies" the recipe for which should really get some attention because I thought the cookies ruled.  Em loves cookies and I learned about using cake mixes because I had tons of coupons for cake mixes and we couldn't eat all those cakes before the cake mixes expired.  Also, we rarely have any all-purpose flour on hand as we grind our own whole wheat flour for most baking purposes.

So, I've started Astrid's introduction to the concept of time with the calendar, a short video song "Days of the Week" and the globe spinning one revolution each day, etc.  She'll take from it what she can at this age.  I'm also introducing her to the Dolch sight-reading words before we get into phonics.  Right now, we're working on the pre-primer list and will include some nouns before moving to the next list.   She won't be two years old until Feb 7, but she's a quick study and already toilet-trained.  While my three kids were reading at 3 years, they toilet-trained more in the third year than the second, so that time-consuming learning hurdle is behind her with expectations of some set-backs due to the new baby. 

Some might consider it a bad idea to have any kind of "structured" education at this age, but the human mind is never again as receptive as it is during the first 6 years, so I like to toss out as much material as possible with the thought that "what sticks sticks".   A (to me) interesting question was introduced at Amber Strocel's blog on whether boredom should be addressed in young children.  You'll definitely want to check out her site if only to listen to the beautiful music used to background the slide show of their 2011.  I pretty much dedicate myself to Astrid in the hours during the week when she's here and I introduce lots of learning activities hoping that she'll have an interest in one of them.  If she shows no interest, I move on to the next activity and/or take clues from her.  If she brings me a book, we read.  If she brings me the play-dough, we make stuff.  If she wants to go outside and the weather is decent, we go outside.  If the weather sucks, she learns about weather.  She seems content to do whatever.

Here she is starting on breakfast (the first event of our days together). 

Here she is washing the dishes we dirtied making the cake-mix cookies.  At one point I thought she might have lost interest and tried to take her down from the stool, but she said, "No!  I help wash dishes."  Probably never again in her life will she enjoy washing dishes as much as she does now.

Here she is just relaxing in her favorite dress-up hat while eating one of those cookies.