Archive for August, 2011

Two more weeks and preschool begins!!!  Incredible where has the time gone?

Preschool “shoppping” is an interesting task. In Ava’s play class I heard so much comparing; my child already knows…. that school just was not academic enough… etc.  My personal belief: children have an entire career in front of them sitting at tables to learning right now they need to be children.  Exploring, talking, watching their peers play, playing with peers.  In a world where parents are already worried and comparing their toddlers I was so happy a friend posted a link to this article.  I love everything about it!  I copied the entire thing because I want it printed in Ava and Ella’s blog book but please click here for the actual article and site info: A Magical Childhood.  Thank you Alicia for a wonderful article and a wonderful blog!

What should a 4 year old know?
I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

  1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
  2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

  1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
  2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
  3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
  4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
  5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US.They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

And now back to those 4 year old skills lists…..

I know it’s human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we’re doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool:
Since we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there’s anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn’t been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.

If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it’s not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven’t happened to cover that. Kids will learn whatever they’re exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly. Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he’ll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you’re mixing a cake and he’ll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It’ll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.

My favorite advice about preschoolers is on this site though:

What does a 4 year old need?

Much less than we realize, and much more.

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Dirty Little Secret: sip

In a house run by a toddler, I mean run with a toddler, those I will never do that mommy moments are shattered on a daily basis.

I will never bribe my child into listening

I will never let chicken nuggets become a major food group

I will never buy my child a toy just to avoid a tantrum

I will never…

Well out with ideals and onto survival!  So here is one of my mothering confessions:

My name is Greta and I am addicted to Diet Coke.  Yes I do know just how terrible this substance is for my body but no matter how hard I try I cannot give up this habit.  I LOVE my diet coke.  Unfortunately so does Ava.  About a year ago Ava asked to try some of my drink.  I of course said No that it was a drink just for mommy Larry however said just let her try it she will not like it.  So he did.  Now he truly believed his statement so there was no ill intent however what I know have is a 3 year old that loves soda.

Since when we first offered her a taste we said here is a sip she still to this day calls soda, SIP.

And here in lies my dirty little secret.  I allow Ava to have sips of diet coke all because I cannot give it up.  Worse yet I let her call it sip so that if we are out in public and she asks for sip it seems completely innocent.  No onlooker would assume that she was asking for evil soda.  For appearance?  For self preservation?  Whatever the reason I am a mom.  Somewhere between perfect and terrible I am surviving with help from a little Diet Coke!

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6 Months: Ella Elizabeth

I have been waiting to do some formal 6 month outdoor photos of Ella until she can sit up independently… waiting… waiting…

Meanwhile I decided to take a few snaps on her actual 6 month birthday while we were back in Michigan. Smiles, dimple, raspberries, yummy toes and pretty much baby perfection in my book!

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Is She Four Yet?

Oh my three is killing me! The control, the negotiating, the defiance, the tears! Oh my!

With a dresser lined with trinkets and a bed filled with stuffed friends tell me how my toddler can enter nap time asking for the one random toy missing! Continue on a desperate search and insist that she have that ONE item before sleep? It is a talent! After 20 minutes of looking I picked her up and put her in her room for nap crying. DONE!

I saw a commercial once where the mom said, “When they were little I used to say they were so cute I could eat them up…. Some days I wish I would have!”  Lets just say I can relate!

Good thing she is so cute!

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Top Six at Six

6 months… a half of year… where does the time go?

Happy half birthday to my incredible girl!

1.  All Smiles:  Ella is all smiles and giggles most of the time.  Such a happy baby!  We are now however, entering the cause and effect stage and experimenting with the power of our tears.  Mama is walking away = tears, mama is coming back = smiles, IT WORKED!  We also had a brief biting while nursing stage…. OUCH!  My darling little girl found the ouch and reaction immensely funny! Like giggle out loud funny!  It took extreme will power on my part to not react to the shocking and sudden pain for that phase to happily end!

2.  Night, Night:  Aw the schedule every new mother struggles with… Ella is an excellent napper but we are still working on the kinks of night time sleep.  Mostly I am lazy when she cries I just want to feed her and return to what little sleep I am getting.  Ultimately I am not complaining she is up to 4+ hours at a time I am just ready to move on to once a night!!!

3.  Cutest EVER:  No bottle, no thumb sucking, no paci but Ella has found her own unique method of self soothing.  I will nurse her, swaddle her and give her a cozy blanket.  She immediately puts the blanket to her cheek and her ring finger knuckle in her mouth and minutes later she is peacefully asleep.  I am pretty sure there has never been a cuter baby, EVER!  (Well maybe a tie with another little girl!)

4.  Cat Fever:  Ella is already fascinated with the pets, but especially the cats.  She wiggles, kicks, talks and reaches for them whenever they are near… just like her sister!  Watch out guys she is just months away from the game of chase!

5.  Only a Minute:  Ella is not quite sitting up by herself… very close but not quite!  We have though officially reached the only a minute and we are off the blanket stage.  Rolling, rolling, rolling…

6.  YUM:  Ella loves her mum mums, puffs and rice cereal.  I am working on introducing other solids but not as consistently as I would like…  I am thinking Ella may not be quite as picky of an eater as her sister.  The first time I gave her real food you should have seen the smile!!!!

The Knuckle: told you pretty cute, huh?

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