Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Good [Kids'] Stuff: Life After Preschool

We are currently in week one of no preschool. A girl can get used to certain things very quickly, and I got used to waving goodbye to Peter and enjoying some quiet time those three mornings during the week. I love this kid to bits, but without some real structure, mothering this child diminishes into a long discussion about why we can't eat more crackers and cheese or watch another show. As a side note: I have started letting Peter watch a half-hour show while I prepare dinner, because I have found that his interference with my cooking (and the accompanied frustration from the mama) is more dangerous than whatever the effects a half-hour of tv has on a child. Anyway, I had to come up with a plan. I'll share what I'm doing, with the recognition that it may come across a bit intense, but Peter is intense and so I'm just trying to come up with something that will suit his personality. Here is our daily plan:

I had this flannel board handy, which hadn't seen much action lately, and decided that it would do the job. It looks super structured, but we have yet to actually do everything on the board. Just having a destination does a lot of good for Peter. He struggles so much with transitions (all of you who have been around Peter lately have witnessed his dramatic exits), but when the board tells us what the next step is, he accepts it much more readily. I like having the day mapped out, too.

The 'jobs' portion of our day is mostly Peter helping me around the house, but I am hoping to start Peter on a few chores this summer that are only his. What jobs do you assign to your very young kids? Right now, I'm thinking he can put away the silverware from the dishwasher, dust, make his bed. I'm looking for good chore chart ideas!

The 'preschool' element has now shifted to 'Mama School'. In our last conference with Peter's preschool teacher, she described him as a huge question mark. Isn't that a terrific description?! Peter's appetite for learning is insatiable and that is maybe my favorite thing about him. This week I have started doing some simple activities while Nathan is having his morning nap, and now, the second Peter wakes up, he asks me what we're doing at Mama School. To my happy surprise, he has been overjoyed by each humble effort I have prepared for him. I am finding that this small two hour stretch has exponentially improved my relationship with Peter and let me mother in a way that I have always wanted to but haven't found the right way to do it. And this is just the first week! My mom encouraged me to write down what we did this week, so I can refer to it later with younger children, so here goes:

Mama School: Week One
This week, we are studying the story and accompanying topics surrounding the fascinating tale of the THREE LITTLE PIGS:

Monday: Read various versions of the Three Little Pigs; play with the three little pig toy set I put together. The toys set included three pigs, a toy wolf, building materials for the houses (straw: pipe cleaners, sticks: popsicle sticks, bricks: legos). This kept Peter busy for hours, as he kept recreating the story (Mama, what if the wolf was nice and was actually friends with the pigs?!)

Tuesday: Pig Appreciation Day. We talked about pigs and boars and the gentle art of truffle hunting. We read a few stories I had checked out on pigs and then did some finger painting in 'mud' or, really, chocolate pudding. Did you do this as a kid? I loved it.

You paint a little...

and then eat the rest.
Here is mine:I had also planned on making pigs-in-a-blanket for lunch, but forgot to buy hot dogs for it. Another time!

Wednesday: Wolf Appreciation Day. We talked about wolves, read a few wolfy books and even watched an educational kid's show about wolves. Then, we went to the wildly overgrown small area between our house and the house next door and made a wolf den.

night, night, Wolfy.

Thursday: House Building Workshop. We sketched out plans for what a super-duper cool house might be like. I kind of regret this, because Peter is so young and has no aspirations for anything more than our small apartment in New Haven. But, his face lit up when I added a huge slide and ice cream shop to the playroom. We also perused these favorite books of mine. They are still too old for Peter, but the illustrations are so incredible, I just can't wait to show him! David MacCaulay, thank you for these books!

I had also intended on making butter with Peter (since there is a butter churn in the version we read), but we ran out of time. Hooray! Too much to do!

Friday: A play of the Three Little Pigs. Peter has never seen a play and so I'm excited to help him star in his first production tomorrow. I think he'll get a big kick out of it. Shane and Nathan will be a gracious audience, no doubt.

Week one done! We'll see what I come up with next week!


Kristy said...

This just makes me smile. You are such a wonderful mother!

Jill said...

Keep posting your ideas so I can copy you! We'll just be one week behind you in "mama school". Pete is a lucky little boy! Good luck with all of your transitions.

Eva said...

You are AWESOME! This is how I want to parent, too. Teaching based on stories! Orion is a little young for this kind of structure, and currently rebelling against the chore chart, but I am inspired. Also, there are many days that I put on a movie (with timer) so that I can fix some dinner! A movie is always a huge motivation, so I say the rule is, we pick up all the toys so we can watch a movie. So he watches Cars or Sleeping Beauty, and I make dinner; it's almost never more than half an hour, so I don't feel guilty, especially since he's been running outside all day (thanks May for this nice weather).

dakotapearl said...

Too awesome for words. Keep the lesson plans coming! I'll just copy as we are gearing up for our own break from preschool in a few weeks.
btw - can you remind me of the title of the first foods cookbook that included the rice dish you graciously served us in SLC? (a good post idea, if nothing else :)

dakotapearl said...

another tip - you mentioned Pete doesn't like transitions. It reminds me of a good parenting book I started but had to return before finishing: Raising Your Spirited Child. Check it out (Susannah told me she read it, too!)

Cortney said...

I love it! I know exactly what you mean when you say "intense"! I think it's so great the Peter loves to learn new things, and you are doing such a great job teaching him. I want to start a little preshool in the morning with William soon because he loves to learn too. I'm definitely going to be using your ideas! You are so creative and such a good mom. Thanks as usual for your inspiration.

Jamieson said...

Wow, can Noelle come to your Mama School?

(This is really Marlo. Can I be invited to view your blog? I always have to sign in as Jamieson. My email is mzirks9 (at) yahoo (dot) com. Thanks Becca.)