Boys want to break things! Girls explore.

Yesterday I brought my 5 year old daughter to the lake to see the melting ice, and today my 3 year old son. I generally just let them go, watch, and follow their lead. My daughter wanted to explore. She wanted to collect things like clam shells, slide/”skate” on the ice, touch the water, ice, and stones, take her shoes off (at 23 degrees), and climb to the top of the largest rock. My son wanted danger and excitement. He wanted to throw rocks, break the ice, make a sand castle, sink into the deep mud, and walk on the ice (to break it). While there were similarities the experiences were completely different. My daughter putted around while my son spent the majority of his hour trying to break things. We often suppress this desire to dominate in boys and discourage girls from the physical freedom we allow boys. As a parent it is important to recognize there are differences between the natures of and in the development of boys and girls, that these are strengths each innately have, and to ebb and flow as a parent to support them to do what they feel naturally (safely). – Jodi Healy

Chalk it up to fun!

Who knew my mission to find a spot for my weekly reminder list would turn into the ideal place for practicing school math!

The kitchen chalk wall is now the go to surface for spontaneous artistic expression (for my 3 year old), math practice (for my 8 year old) and the main accessory for playing “school” (both kids together). It took mere days to prep the surface, paint two coats and allow the chalkboard paint (purchased from Home Depot), to set and be ready for chalk!

I can’t say enough about this easy DIY project – watching both my girls enjoy it daily makes the bit of chalk dust clean up all worth it! – Mandy DeBurro

Math practice on the chalk wall by my 8 year old

Math practice on the chalk wall by my 8 year old

We often forget the benefits of just listening, pure audio…

With the constant visual stimulus we are all subjected to (through television, digital media, smart phones, digital billboards, IPADS, etc), we often forget the benefits of just listening, pure audio. Children love to listen to music, people talking, and hearing stories! Listening is an important part of development for reading, cognition, problem solving, and more. I found one of the best opportunities I have for this is driving in the car. I figure since we spend so much time there, I could do something positive with that time; expose them to different types of songs, cultures, music, and stories. My children love listening just as much as watching a movie, and I feel good I am doing something educational. They learn and listen quietly, while I have a chance to make those necessary phone calls! A win win situation. – Jodi Healy

Thank the Snow Plow! Homemade “Luge”

Rather than trekking through 3 feet of snow with little feet to go sliding (who would sink, get boots full of snow, and wet feet), we created our own “luge”! The plow and winter left us with huge mountains of snow in our driveway. Simply using a shovel I made steps on one side for easy climbing and dug out a slide on the left. I continued to add snow on the pavement as the kids slid down, and “viola” we had our own easy to access slide. – Jodi Healy

Setting up my dining room like a center based preschool may seem excessive…

Losing my dining room and setting it up like a center based preschool may seem excessive, but believe it or not, I am able to quietly make phone calls, meals, check emails, and even go to the bathroom alone! Daily I rotate toys and facilitate activities and learning, and still with my 7 year old when she is home from school. (I will explain how in future posts!) When my children were babies and toddlers the room provided a safe place to explore and be independent (without Mommy). And yes of course sometimes I don’t feel like doing anything or miss days… It may seem overwhelming or like more work but it actually grants me time to do things like writing this (today is a snow day and my children are playing store). I set up and facilitate an activity then let them play, and separate myself from them so I am not their source of entertainment (of course I am close by to meet a need, answer a question, and engage here and there). The room is a dedicated place for them, that is theirs, for learning, playing, and making a mess. A mother or the full time provider has the most influence. We have a wonderful opportunity to facilitate learning, beyond caretaking, before full time school and beyond…