Archive for the ‘Preschool’ Category

Our oldest just turned 5 years old. This brings to the surface a whole lot of thoughts and feelings that have been inching their way up over the last several years. Since we are unschooling, it doesn’t change our lives in the way it would if she was heading off to kindergarten at the end of the summer. But, I do feel some pressure that I didn’t feel when my kids were all pre-school aged.

This fall, I will need to file with the state. I don’t think this will be much of a problem. Although the official nature of filling out and filing forms adds a tiny bit to the pressure.

Now, whenever someone asks how old my children are, I will either have to figure out another way of answering this question or we’re bound to have the kindergarten related questions rain down. I saw a little bit of this after our oldest turned four. Its just like all the other questions and comments that strangers make in front of your children that you wish they’d keep to themselves. How many times can a child hear that their parents must have their hands full before thinking they must be a burden? How many times does a child need to hear how excited they must be that they are going to be in kindergarten soon before they start believing that that’s where they belong? Just wondering out loud, online.

A lot of the pressure is self-inflicted. I can feel my neck crane to see what it is that everyone else is doing.

What are those 5-year-olds learning? Are they reading? Is my 5-year-old at their level? “Do you want to read another Bob book, honey?” How much of the alphabet does my 3-year-old really know? Are those 18-month-olds as advanced as mine?

It always makes me sick when I find myself doing this. So, I shut myself up and steal myself against my own wandering mind. I get out a book on something I am interested in and I try really hard to lose myself in it, usually failing. Because what I really want to know is will they all aprove?

And, then, I remind myself that they will never all aprove and that’s when I go back to feeling relief that we are doing exactly what we believe (based on the facts set before us and those that we have spent years seeking out and will continue researching) is best for each of our children as individuals.

Then, I feel calm for a moment. And I practice my labor breathing (which is as much for other stages of parenting as it is for the very beginning) as I listen to the kids happily lost in what is most interesting to them in this very moment.

I think all of this “pressure” will end up for good in that it will shift my focus for a while. I’m sure over the next few months and maybe the rest of the year, my “currently reading” list will be comprised of more education and parenting related books again. Its always nice to go back to topics after a little break, the subject having had time for rumination. I have a few on my shelf that I plan on getting to when my interest shifts.

Any reading suggestions?

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Last spring we took our first real RV trip, ending up as far north as San Francisco. While we were there, the girls and I visited the CuriOdyssey Museum at Coyote Point. One of our favorite exhibits was the magnetic gear wall. 

My husband came across this video over the weekend on gears showing the kinds of movements and timing you can get with different shapes.

Well, the video has sort of renewed my interest in gears and I’d like to have something for us to play with here at home. Based on their interest while at the museum last year, I think the girls would have fun with them for a while too. I’ve seen these refrigerator magnet gears in a shop once, but what I really want to do is make something ourselves. I’m contemplating making one with peg board from the hardware store at some point. I’m not sure exactly how we’ll do this, but its on my mind and I’ll let you know if we come up with anything.

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We’ve been sick now for almost two weeks. Its been rough at times, but we’ve found plenty to keep us busy. On the toughest days when we’ve been stuck mostly on the couch and in bed that has included quite a bit of Dora, Diego and Bob the Builder. I’m trying to be okay with that.

We’ve also played dress up. Here is our 4yo in one of daddy’s old beanies, bunny ears, finger-less gloves, with a tutu (off camera) and a flower tail (also off camera). She’s also fully accessorized, as you can see. I think she was combining Christmas, Easter and Halloween into one outfit.

Our 2yo has set up several picnics over the last couple weeks. She is very fastidious about it and guards her set up from her siblings even though they are invited to her party. She’s very particular about what they touch and what they “eat.” She remembers exactly where something goes if someone, say a 1yo who’s learned to tease, snatches an item without permission.

After beginning this painting, I found our 2yo sitting on the floor in the playroom with her head between her knees. I asked her what was wrong and she answered, “I can’t paint anything lovely.” I asked her if she wanted to come try again and walked with her back to the craft table where we sat down, got a fresh paper and tried a different brush. She ended up being much happier with her second, third and fourth attempts.

She wants to give these to specific people for Christmas.

This is how I kept sane with paints. I was even able to place another sheet of wax paper over the remaining paint and save it for the next time (which was later that day and then again the next day). We had a lot of fun discussing and trying out how to combine colors to create new colors.

The girls like to use the barstools for their pretend cages. Lately we’ve been on a Dirty Jobs kick in the evenings and their favorite episode has been one where Mike Rowe visits an animal sanctuary with kangaroos, camels and lemurs. There has been a lot of lemur activity and a lot of lemur questions around our place this week.

We’ve also decorated and redecorated the tree, made several batches of scones, made giant snow flakes, read many books, danced quite a lot of stories, wrapped gifts, learned how to spell new words. Of course, the list would have been longer if we weren’t so sick, but life can still be full during these down times.

We’ve taken care of each other over the last couple weeks. Yes, these girls even take care of me by bringing me water when I cough even though I’ve never asked them to do this. They pat my head when I’m laying down. They share their favorite blankets with me. They hang up their art to cheer me up. 

We’ve also had a lot of practice being kind even though we don’t feel well. Sometimes that is hard to do even for adults. But we’re learning and practicing and getting better at it.

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Its late, maybe 11pm. It would be nice if she were in bed already as she usually is. She begs daddy to let her type. He sets his computer up for her. She types “m-o-m” and asks, “did I type ‘mommy’?” When she asks him how to spell a word, he spells it for her and she types it one finger at a time. When she discovers typing with two fingers at once, we smile. When she asks us to sound out her creations, we oblige. When we head off to bed, she suddenly decides she’d like to do the same.

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Just because we don’t do “school” doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of the things that have been made for school. Come September, all the larger discount stores have dollar workbooks for various subjects that the girls love to play with. Maybe its the opportunity to use dry erase markers or maybe it has more to do with the little pictures of objects for each letter that they enjoy. Either way, they get very excited about them and our 4yo loves to trace the letters. Last year she enjoyed tracing and writing printed letters and this year she meticulously traced a page of cursive letters. We laughed at how the ‘Q’ looked like a 2 (so silly!) and then she drew a heart and her name and another heart and her sister’s name. Our 2yo wrote an upside down uppercase ‘A’ an an ‘H’ (that ‘H’ may have been upside down too). She’s written them right-side up for a little while, but has recently switched to writing a lot of her letters upside down. We tried out several of the picnic tables and a bench or two while we were on a walk one morning at Pinecrest Lake.

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Two-year-old’s Photography

At a wedding we attended over the weekend, our 2yo grabbed the camera and took a few closeups. Its fun to see what she sees. 

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We found that raised letters made for much clearer rubbings than indented sidewalk patterns and writing.

We decided we are going to take this one on the road with us.

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