Lately I have been feeling as though Lennon wants and needs more from me than just cuddling, playing and hanging out. She seems restless around the house even after hours of running at the park. She has become inquisitive and curious about process. Around the age of two, some toddlers make the move from home to preschool to begin on their journey of higher education. I asked Len the other day if she wanted to go to school. She said yes. Then I told her that mama wouldn't be there and she said no tanks. A big part of who Lennon is is directly related to her relationship with me. And I anticipate this relationship dynamic to remain constant for years to come. We still breastfeed and therefore spend as little time apart as can be managed. I started asking myself what I could do to help keep her engaged during the day for both of our sakes without having to pay 1700 dollars a month for preschool (thank you Santa Monica) and spend hours separated when I know she is not developmentally ready for that.
Then one night, as every night goes, I was beginning to make dinner and she wanted to help. Not in the here is your own little pan and spatula way but in the I want to mix things together and saute way. Which can be a lot to manage at first with a Toddler who isn't all too sure of what cooking is all about. She wanted desperately to cut the veggies just like I was but I don't have a knife she can use and don't think she is quite there yet. Instead I decided to talk to her, tell her about how I was cutting the sweet potato, and then gave her specific directions of what she could do to help. I told her that I would slice all of the fries, place them on the corner of the cutting board closest to her, and then she would pick them up, and put them on the baking sheet in front of her. She loved the idea! When the moment came for me to place the potato in its decided location I wondered if she would remember, listening and followed steps to accomplish a task. She thought about it for a second, then grabbed as many fries as those little hands could and threw them excitedly onto the baking sheet. She laughed hard when they landed and we high fived. This was fun!
We continued on easily and enjoyably, getting dinner made and doing what felt like our first for the clear objective of learning task completed. Lennon's love for cooking and desire to learn more made me realize that she doesn't need to go to an expensive preschool to learn exactly what she needs right now. She could get it all at home and I could learn how to teach my child. The idea really excites me. Also, more hands to help the better!
My plan is simple and open. Everyday we will spend time doing an art project, working with our hands and being creative; read books and sing songs, this already happens, but spending more consistent and dedicated periods of time doing these activities; cook dinner, during lunch she likes to roam around the house but dinner is a time when she loves to climb on her bench and get involved in dinner all the way until its on her plate; outdoor play, our park dates are necessary and wonderful in the warm sun; field trip, once or twice a week we will go somewhere educational and exciting including museums, the library, art galleries, the ocean, the mountains, and more; social time, as both a family on the weekends and as just mama and babe during the week, every week we will have dedicated social time with friends in an intimate setting; baking, we will weekly bake a loaf of bread and sometimes something sweet to enjoy. The cleaning and grocery shopping we already do is a consistent part of Lennon's learning process too but it is intrinsic and necessary so I find I never put them off. Other aspects I can get lazy, turn on the tube, and hope it satisfies my exceptional child while pretending I didn't have plans.
Today was the first day of our open schedule. Lennon woke at 4:30 and sort of set the tone of the day slowly. I tend to feel fatigued and slow in my body on Mondays and so we took it easy inside. We started by doing crafts and had actually painted, cut and glued shapes, and made number cards by 8 am. We had a snack and moved on to books. Then the day ran away from us during intense moments of teething and need to nurse constantly and refusal to sleep or eat. Sometimes even the best of intentions can't stand up against teeth. We did make dinner together and had a great time. Cooking is definitely her favourite thing.
Tomorrow we will see how things flow but we are hoping to meet up with some friends and play at the park, as well as baking yummy cookies to satisfy mama's craving. How wonderful this school year shall be!
What ways have you learnt to teach your child and how do you go about it?