Monday, April 30, 2012

Screen Free Week

This week is Screen Free Week, a week were you are supposed to turn off your tv, computer, and now the apps and anything else your smartphone can do other then call or text. It is supposed to get kids and adults to do other things. As you can see being online I am not participating. I don't think many people are since this is the first year since its start I have not seen is publicized much. Maybe with all the apps and smartphones we have gone to far for screen free?
While in theory I think it is a great idea one week of taking the screen away isn't going to help if rules are not set about electronics. Most people will go right back to being a tv addict, using their "crackberry" all day long or playing in an ipad any downtime they get. I am pretty anti-tv, but I do let Liv watch some tv. PBS shows are usually what I will put on. I find them simple and informative. And often I will use ideas on some shows for learning at home. Last week we watched a Curious George were he planted carrots and had a hard time waiting for them to grow. We just happened to plant carrots several days before and Liv had not been impressed with our garden so far. But after watching this George it lit a little fire in her. Seeing what will happen over the course of months in a 15 minute show helped her realize that those seeds will be carrots one day. She now get very excited to water the garden and check on our slowly growing vegetables. I really enjoy doing outdoor learning at this age so I often find Curious George and the Cat in the Hat Knows A lot About That are often about nature and will get Liv excited to do more outdoor activities like gardening, feeding birds, picking weeds, composting and other things that usually might be too "boring" or slow moving for a toddler. She learns a little from the show and I re-enforce the learning with actives and expand on it. For a toddler just turning off the tv for a week will not teach her anything about how tv and the internet can be addictive and a huge drain, but placing limits now will help teach her that so hopefully we won't feel the need for screen-free weeks. The APA recommends no more then 2 hours of tv and it is a rare day we even reach that. Some days we watch none and at the higher end we will watch an hour or so. I feel its all about balance. PBS doesn't have commercials for toys or fast food, which for me its the commercials that bother me most about children's programming. Young children are so impressionable at this age. They can not tell the difference often from where the show ends and the commercials begin. This is another reason why I love just getting DVDs from the library. Liv has been asking for Dora. Sad part she realized Dora is a cartoon from seeing her on swim diapers. She asked to watch the girl on her diapers. Commercialism at its best. My 2 year old knows that if its on a diaper its probably a show on tv. So to satisfy her Dora fix I get a Dora dvd from the library so I won't subject her to more commercials on Nick. Props to those who are going screen-free, and then you are probably not reading this anyway. I will keep my tv on, just turned to channel 13 for an hour a day :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chalk Art

The Easter Bunny took Liv's binkies and left some wonderful gifts in return. The transition to life with out the binkies has been challenging but I'm am glad to say she is sleep okay with out them. We have some nights and naps that are not great, but it seems to be getting easier. One of the gifts the Easter bunny left was a small chalkboard with colored chalk. This has been a great source of entertainment for Liv and its great for learning. She loves coloring with it, drawing and also cleaning it. I have to say I really forgot how nice it is to color with chalk. There is something so easy about it I enjoy playing with it too.
Liv often tells me things to draw. She learns a lot from observing. She usually doesn't jump into things or just try she watches and watches over and over again till in her mind she thinks she has it then she tries it, usually with great success too. I was not to found of drawing with crayons on paper so it is nice now that I can enjoy drawing while she studies my techniques, or lack there of. But I guess it really doesn't matter much to a 2 year old. She is still working on drawing simple shapes so her watching me draw the sun or moon is teaching her about circles. She also watches me to see how I hold the chalk. Once she gets shapes down better I am planning on using a Montessori method for teaching her how to write her letters. I plan to make sandpaper cut outs of the letters and she can use those to copy the letter on the chalkboard. I am not one to push learning on my young child so I don't think we will start this till the fall, if I think she is ready now. But we do work on letter identification now. I will draw letter and she names them. For the most part our chalkboard is used for art but it amazes me how something so simple could be such a great source of learning for her. Simple really seems to be best when it comes to learning for children and most enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

For the Birds

Over the winter I sat down and tried to make up a preschool syllabus for Liv. I am not sure if she will ever attend preschool so I wanted to start homeschooling at home. But after working on it for a few months I stopped. Liv is 2 1/2, which around where I live is probably the average age kids go in to preschool. I am not a huge fan of this, especially if it is an academic preschool. I don't think young children are made to sit around and be taught at. They need to experience life, learn with their hands and hearts. So I've been doing an unschooling approach for preschool so far. I just try to "teach" Liv things she is showing interest in. Recently it has been birds.
She was asking me what type of bird that was one day. Luckily I knew it was a blue jay, but there was so much I didn't know so I though what a perfect way to teach her about natures, categorizing, her colors and so many other skills that I probably don't realize. So the first thing I did was go to the library and get a bunch of books about birds, bird watching and how to attract birds to your yard. Blue jays are blue, cardinals are red, Baltimore orioles are orange and black. We spot these birds in our backyard almost daily and I go over their colors with her. We put out different feeders and seeds for different birds. She is learning which birds eat seeds, and how other like suet. We watch robins in our lawn pulling worms all day. Today we sat in our bathroom and spied on a cardinal singing for a mate. In addition to learning bird calls and how they attract each other she is learning how to be quiet and patient while watching these birds. Teaching a 2 year old to whisper and be still is hard, but when the motivation is watching a beautiful bird she does much better. Sometimes we listen to bird calls in the car. She loves it. She is learning all different types of birds, about the seasons, where they live, what they eat, what songs the sing, how baby birds come to be, about migration and so much more. So of this goes over her little head, but I know she is absorbing so much from just watching the birds and looking at the books with me. This also keeps us outdoors. We will go out and fill the bird feeders every couple of days so she is gaining a sense of responsibility too. This is just one thing I have been doing with her, but right now it takes a large part of our "schooling" since the birds are flocking to our yard and we often just stop and sit to watch them. She really enjoys looking through the bird books too. I love watching her get all excited about learning and wanting to know more. I hope this helps instill a life long love of learning. We are also working on a garden, but it is very early in the season for to be taking up too much time of our day. We have a nice weekly routine of activities but when ever we have nothing to do or a empty spot in our day I go to my some of my unschooling ideas to keep us occupied in a fun way.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

6 months is enough

My newborn is no longer a newborn anymore.
In way you look at it 6 months is way out of the newborn stage, yet in many ways I feel I have been slacking like I'm still dealing with a newborn. I still take naps most days (with Ev) my excuse has been well she is not sleeping through the night. I am often in sweats, partly because I still need to lose some weight so I have a limited amount of clothes. Our routine is lacking, the tv is on more then I like, meals are done on the fly and I just feel like a general slacker. I decided 6 months is enough. Today Eve is 7 months so for about 2 weeks I've changed things up and am slowly starting to get back into a routine. I'm not jumping in head first, I'm slowing adding things back into our days and week to get us motivated, keep us happy and productive. The first thing I have done is eliminated my morning tv time. It just started the day off wrong. When Eve was waking several time I needed to sit and watch some morning news, that would role into some tv time for Liv then aroun 930 10 our day would start. We were still in our pjs and got nothing done. I've got Eve sleeping better and am trying to go to bed earlier so now its breakfast then right upstairs to get dressed. Some days I will let myself be in sweats, but I'm trying to limit that too. Its not possible 100% since I still don't fit in lots of my clothes, but I'm getting there. 10 more lbs and some toning and I will be at pre-baby weight. That is another reason why I wanted to get back into a routine. To fit in exercise time. On nice mornings I get everyone dressed and we go out for a walk while Eve naps in the Ergo. For our week we are now doing: Monday-market, grocery shopping in the morning afternoon-free Tuesday-storytime in the morning at a local library, then park afterwards if nice afternoons-free Wednesday-laundry day, outdoors garden day Thursday- cleaning day/errand day Friday-playdate, park day Sat-free Sunday-church I am trying to incorporate some more activities in our day so we don't depend on the tv anymore. I would love to get tv time back down to 1/2hour. Some days we are as high as 2 hours, most closer to 1. Right now Liv is loving birds so its taking up lots of our time. We bird watch, listen to bird calls in the car, identify birds from books, make sure there is food for them and try to listen to bird calls while outside. I'm trying to get some of myself back. Dressing nice, doing my hair or make up daily, knitting or reading in the evenings, yoga and pilates some nights to help get back in shape. I think 6 months is enough time and time to move on out of being all about the new baby. Spring is here so its the perfect time to refresh and get back to living life the way we enjoy.