Published in Baystate Parent Magazine this month! “How to Create a Home of Learning”
Click HERE to view article in Baystate Parent Magazine!
A room with different options provides children the opportunity to explore and find their interests! However, even if a child is drawn to a preference like dolls, it doesn’t mean they will always play with those toys. Nor should you get rid of toys they don’t play with frequently. Just put them away. When toys are reintroduced, weeks or even months later, every time they are taken out they feel like new! This is called “rotating the toys”. My son didn’t play with the construction toys for weeks but this week he used them often.
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Sensory tables are one of the best investments you will ever make (when used properly)! I had two, one for when they were really small $99 and another when my oldest turned 4, $138. Many refer to these as water tables, but they are truly sensory tables and with the right ideas you will have hours and hours of FUN and learning (from sand, to snow, to pasta, to water, to other!) Red water table = http://www.environments.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=1539&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price=
All Toys are NOT created equal! Open ended toys like manipulatives provide the greatest opportunity for learning. Manipulatives are things that can be “manipulated”, like legos, blocks, magnets. One of my favorites, that my children still use after 9 years, is “Tall Stackers Pegs Building Sets”. They have built so many variations of structures I couldn’t possibly count! ***Make sure to like our page or follow the blog to receive constant tips and ideas for learning at home
We often forget the library is one of the greatest places to explore and learn for a child. A library is full of adventures! Each story contains a new one. Even before a child reads this is important. Children’s imaginations soar as they look at the beautiful colors and artistic creations on each page of a book. Mine often create and make up their own stories. This is the basis of reading and language. I never pushed or focused on the words until developmentally reading became important. My children love to go, and have the same excitement as going to the toy store, every time. For the last 8 years (yes, as soon as my oldest turned 1) I’ve tried to take my children once a week. We leave with a bag full of books. Each one of my children flipped through the pages and immersed themselves in the images before they could read. Reading isn’t the only purpose of a story, or the story itself. Now my 9 year old leaves with a stack of her own Chapter books, and reads at least an hour every night before bed. It is one of my greatest successes as a mother. Every night I read one story to each child (of course we miss nights, and now this time has become “chat” time with my oldest instead) but it has become a transition to dreamland which studies are finding aid in proper sleep and development… The library is a place of wonder and mystery, held in the page of every book. Give that gift to your children. “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass
Children need boundaries. It provides not only a sense of security but teaches them where they fit in the world. Children learn boundaries by what we do. When they are small, they are dependent on us to survive. We feed them, pick them up, help them dress and wash, herd them when we are in a rush, buckle, on and on. But at some point this must change. Many children with behavioral problems suffer because they do not understand healthy boundaries. They hit, take others things, do not want to share, do not follow rules, etc. Even though true autonomy is a slow transition as a child grows, teaching a child he/she is responsible should happen as soon as they understand they are separate from you. This empowers them to make choices and realize what we do matters. We often forget to teach a child that he/she is the boss of his/her own body, and that they are ultimately in control of what happens to them.
We often forget the wonder of life is not what we imagine, but the love we have that fuels it… Last night I had the often dreaded “Santa” question from my 9 year old. As my daughter awaited in anticipation, as if she was ready to hear the answer to life, I read her that beautiful letter a woman wrote to her daughter explaining there is not just one Santa. She looked at me seriously and said, “What does that mean?” I told her “Santa” is all of us, collectively, continuing a tradition to bring joy to children all around the world. That we each are Santa at one point in our lives. The magic is in us, what we create for others. She was relieved, ecstatic. My daughter giggled as she explained how she figured it out, finding presents in her Daddy’s closet, and was worried her father would be upset if she knew. I told her of course not, so we called him. I brought him into the conversation because despite our divorce he is still a monumental part of this for her. He listened for a while, then asked, “Are you sad?” She said “Why would I be sad?” And the giggling continued.
We hung up and continued a 2 hour conversation. She felt so proud she was now part of the “secret”, the mystery, where she could be “Santa” too. She felt trusted with something important, powerful. She promised not to tell her younger siblings or friends and even talked about how she would act so they would not figure it out. She felt grown up that she could help wrap presents and hide eggs. It was one of the most beautiful moments as a parent I have ever had. She proceeded to unravel out loud all the doubts she had over the years about all the mystical beings we filled her childhood with. That sometimes she got more money from the tooth fairy at Mommy’s than Daddy’s and it didn’t make sense. On and on, I witnessed the magic of her childhood unfold and relived. She said, “All those decorations you did”. I said, “Yes, it made me happy to make you happy”. She said Mommy, “It is even more special now that I know it is you”. I cried. How beautiful. We often forget our love is more powerful than anything, and how we show them is the most important part of their lives.
I ended with, “I will always tell you the truth, and you can ask me any question you want.” She said, “Thank you Mommy, I love you so much. Can we talk again tomorrow night?” “Of course”, as if we were a team with the wonder of the world between us. It felt as if we crossed a bridge to a higher level. I am so grateful I can be for her what I always wanted. We both went to sleep with a stronger bond, deeper than life…