Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Things to Do Over the Summer with My Kids : 10:30 Last Class

I've Googled it too...

We've all been in this place...

And here we are AGAIN...


What am I going to do with these guys ALL SUMMER LONG?

You've read my suggestion of giving your children Time to Play...

But with What?

People are always a good start...

I mean the Real Kind...

You know the little ones...

Some of us have the built in playmates with the siblings...

But there is the option of the Play Date.

The problem I have with play dates is that often the 2 or more Adults interrupt the children from getting into some good, clean fun...

However, if you just offer to babysit a friend's child and hopefully they are into the Vice Versa deal ;) :) 
(Let's face it, we have some healthy ulterior motives here ;)

The children will be able to focus on getting into some deep play together.  And after some practice and some consistency on your part...
You will also have some time for your own Agenda.

Ok...getting into what you really want to know here...

Helpful Hints:

1.  Set up some boundaries

  • "It's hard to see the forest, for the trees" kind of deal.  When everything is a choice, children are often overwhelmed with decision making.
  • Limit the options:  Right now, the choices are blocks or art supplies.
  • With limited options, your children will learn to be more creative with what is available.
  • If necessary, set some time constraints.  These are your choices while Mama is cooking dinner...folding the laundry...reading my book ;)
  • When children are aware of the boundaries, they begin to feel free to explore within those lines.  They will stop testing the boundaries (as long as you are clear with them) and begin to go deeper within their play.

2.  Settle in with a New everyday Rhythm.

  • I have a hard time with this one... Try to find some consistency in your weeks.  And have it written down somewhere for the kids and you to look at and review each day.
  • On Mondays, we have our field trip day...Tuesdays we will have your friend over to play...Wednesdays after Mommy works we will have a cooking project...Etc...Find what your family values most and Schedule it in!  Doesn't matter if you work or don't work, find a family Rhythm.
  • Schedule time for your child to have at least an hour or 2 of uninterrupted play Every Day!!!  Be sure they know that this is part of the family rhythm.

3.  Have Open Ended Materials for your children

  • I say materials instead of Toys because kids often crave "adult" like things to play with.(notepads, real kitchen spoons, bowls, a computer keyboard to take apart with real screwdrivers!)
  • Dollar store has the best stuff ever!!! Yes, it's all made in China, but we can only focus our global energy efforts so much ;)  At least for the summer...
  • Ask GrandMa what she played with and loved as a child...Real flour, Natural Earth Materials (Water, Sand, Dirt, leaves, etc...)
  • Materials that can be combined in interesting and new ways each time your child sits down to play with.  (Lids, corks, paper towel tubes;  blocks with beads;  playdough and toothpicks, etc...)
  • Think of and prepare your child for the clean up method... Offering the boundaries before the play begins..."You can play with these materials in the water table (a plastic bin makes a great portable water table" and then when your play time is over, we will set them on this towel to dry and then we will put them back into the container to store until next time."
  • Help your child understand they will be responsible for part of the clean up before they begin the play.  This helps them to consider how they will use the materials and then no one is shocked when play time is over and they are not overwhelmed with clean up.

4.  It's ok to say No

  • When you find yourself feeling out of control and really overwhelmed, that's when it's usually time to Say "No".  
  • Definitely treat it with respect, not overusing it, and always following through when you do say it.  Make it an important word with real meaning behind it.
  • While it's hard to be the "bad guy" sometimes, your child will respect you for having fortitude about certain things.
  • Children don't want to be making all the decisions, it's exhausting and overwhelming for them.  They want to know Mom or Dad is able to make a decision and stand by it.

And of course...the last rule that is on any Long list of Rules (especially at swimming pools) which seems a little Ironic...


Monday, May 28, 2012

Children Learn through Play? 9am Last Class

Everywhere you go, everything you read tells you that:
 Children learn through play.  
You won't find many that debate otherwise.  
You certainly won't hear me saying anything to the contrary.


I want to modify this statement with one word...

Children learn through UNINTERRUPTED play!

This is what makes the concept of learning through play more difficult to conceptualize.

First of all, what constitutes an interruption?

Simple Answer:

Complex Answer:
Not enough time

Most parents agree that Focus, Staying on Task, and Self-Discipline are the keys to success both in school and life in general.

However, without realizing it, we prevent those skills from developing when we impose our Agenda on our children.

And the biggest culprit in interrupting children's play is that dude...

Father Time.

We all think that we need to schedule our children's lives...

They will get bored if we don't have them in soccer...swim lessons...ballet...trips to the aquarium...TV...IPAD...playdate after playdate...

And if we don't offer these "Activities", then we will be in charge of entertaining our young ones.  
AAAAAHHHHH!  I will go crazy if I have to play Babies with my little one, one more time.

Now, it's summer time...School is out...what in the heck are we going to do for the next 2.5 months?

What if we gave our children the Gift of Time?

Prepare yourselves...

They WILL get bored.

They WILL whine!

They WILL drive you INSANE!

But then...(If you stay strong, consistent, and Unyielding)...

They Will PLAY!

They WILL play all Day!

Without the TV on... Without the yelling and bribing and coaxing..."We're Late!, Let's Go!  Get Your Shoes On!, Etc...Etc.."
If you work really hard to not entertain your kids, they will learn to entertain themselves.

And besides the wonderful gift you give to them to be Self-Initiators...and Self-Fulfilled...

YOU will get to Play too!

You can have some uninterrupted time yourself.

And if you're very careful and you watch your little ones Playing...

***don't let them see you, because that does constitute an Interruption ;)

You will see what all these books and teachers mean when they say:

Children learn through Play.