This week kind of fell apart from the beginning. We had a lot of obligations, and after Monday fell apart and I got called into work on Thursday, I decided this weekend will just be about enjoying the warm weather. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so my first inclination was to try to cram everything into every free moment and catch up, but that wouldn’t be effective learning.
I think this week was a good lesson in intentional parenting, though. While we weren’t learning based on a planned curriculum, I did make sure our activities were learning activities.
Between our normal play time, I incorporated a couple learning game with Daniel. We used this letter match from Twinkl and the numbers I laminated for our Feed The Raccoon Game to play a fly swatter number identification game.
With Alex, I tried to make his time more productive by not just holding him or handing him a bottle while I prepped dinner. This week, while I cooked, he got a sensory bath (normal bath but with slotted spoons and pouring cups for toys), he played with squash guts in the sink, we made music together with and without instruments, and we explored “treasure boxes”, which are just miscellaneous things in a box that are baby-safe and offer a variety of textures and sounds. He’s at a difficult age for activity planning. He’s at that age of curiosity and business, but he’s not going to sit down for any sort of manipulatives or sorting yet. Right now it’s probably mostly going to be blocks and sensory activities.
This week I also created an activity binder for Daniel. This includes extras from printable packs or random worksheets I’d like him to do but don’t have time for in our curriculum. He can work on them while I cook or the days I’m at work. Earlier this week I found these Leap Frog books and card games at Toys R Us. We have another set of card games that Daniel carried off. I liked these books because the pages were simple and varied. Whenever I buy an activity or handwriting book, I photocopy the pages I want to use; this allows multiple use as well as prevents him from just rushing through the book. A few pages of these ended up in his learning binder. Next week, when I switch into our St. Patrick’s Day theme, I’ll swap the pages for St. Patrick’s day worksheets that I didn’t incorporate into our formal curriculum.
In December, I was at a charity event that helped families, and they mentioned the thirty million word gap between low-income and high-income children. I heard about this when I was in school for teaching, but with this reminder, my resolution for the year was to read 50 books a month with Daniel to total 600 books by the end of the year. This only includes books that I personally read with Daniel. Also with the word gap in mind, I know that a large percentage of rich vocabulary comes from children’s literature, as it uses a lot of words we don’t use in daily speech (pounced, astonished, gravity) (for a list of children’s literature with rich vocabulary look here and here. Where I’ve been known to skip sentences or summarize a book to shorten the process, I only count books I read through so he is getting the full extent of the vocabulary. You see we fell short in January and definitely in February because of our move, so we’re playing catch-up in March and April. It helps me to keep a list because most nights five books sounds like a lot, but then I’ll think, five more for the list!
Another idea I plan to begin using is the concept of reading and math logs. The idea behind logs is that the kids record x amount of time doing a subject-related activity. For example, measuring while cooking or doing math with legos would be appropriate for a math log. At this age, the reading log won’t be useful because most of that is done directly and through reading books only. We’ll use the math log to help me remember to incorporate shapes, patterns, identification, and math discussion everyday. I’m beginning with 15 minutes a day, and I’ll analyze what he needs from there.
Missing part or all of our curriculum isn’t the end of the world. The learning of daily interaction and real life and the outdoors is just as valuable, if not more, than the formal curriculum. As Pete the Cat would say, lessons come and lessons go, but it’s all good.