My water table was one of the best $100 investments!

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Water play is such a wonderful sensory and stimulating activity for any age! Children love the water, any kind; rain, baths, sprinklers, lakes, oceans, snow, puddles. It is part of our world and part of us. My water table was one of the best $100 investments I ever made. I started with the small blue one in the link below, then transitioned to the larger when my oldest turned 4. At 9, 7, and 6 they still find different ways to play with it. We use measuring cups, bottles, bowls, and any other type of plastics we can find. Plastic can go a long way! They love anything that can pour or shoot water (like the medicine dispensers from CVS). Often they put the water table on the ground, fill it, sit in it, dump to make a stream to lay in, pretend it’s a pool or boat, and more. We also mix up the activities with bubbles, food coloring, utensils, buckets, and water guns. Water tables are worth every penny!! Just set it up in the driveway full of plastics. A hose and clean recyclables host hours of fun.

The two water tables I purchased:

http://www.environments.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=1540&keyword=water%20table&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price=

http://www.environments.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=1539&keyword=red%20water%20table&scategoryid=0&CategorySearch=&Brand=&Price=

Children’s books are not just for reading…

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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.

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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.

One of the most beautiful moments as a parent I have ever had…

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…

Often we forget children need transition time…

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Often we forget children need transition time… between events, tasks, and even normal day to day activities. It’s almost as if children accumulate and store pent up energy that needs to be expelled, before they can settle into another task. Ask any school teacher or provider, they will attest to this collective time between one activity and the next. This time is often missed as we try quickly to get them to bed, brush their teeth, or even sit down for a meal, and it often ends in frustration and angst. Transition time doesn’t have to be long but realized and naturally built into a child’s day. Doing this not only makes life as a parent easier (who learns to expect this rather than get frustrated), but it also allows the child the time to release the energy, and mentally and physically prepare for the next thing.

Dancing in the Rain!

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As adults, we often experience rain as cold, wet, disruptive, and time to spend indoors… but to a child rain is a wonderful sensory experience. Children love to feel water fall and touch their skin, catch raindrops in their mouths and hands, dance and splash in the puddles, and get wet on purpose! Children do not care about staying dry or “warm”. As adults we often forget the pleasure in the changing weather and wonders of Mother Nature, let alone experiencing the sensory pleasures of it. Let your children be free to run in the rain, feel nature, experience life with their bodies, and find adventure in the everyday things. © Jodi Healy

Boys want to break things! Girls explore.

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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
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