Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Playing Where Danger Lurks

As you know, we feel very strongly about the importance of play in a child's healthy development. It may come as no surprise that because this is Oregon, we play outside every time it's dry and sometimes even if it's raining. Right now we've been enjoying some pretty awesome weather and the kids have been outside most afternoons. We practice our writing skills using sidewalk chalk. We practice our math skills by chanting the multiplication tables or addition facts while tossing a catching beanbags. We skip rope, play jacks, play with a hula hoop.

Of course the kids are awesome about coming up with all types of creative play. They've made their own obstacle courses. The made an exploding volcano with mud (and vinegar and baking soda) and many of the plastic dinosaurs perished during the eruption. The play structure has been a fort, a look out post and a ship.

Yesterday, they took the jump rope and would let down the slide. One child would grab hold and two children up on the structure would pull and pull until they managed to pull the child on the bottom of the slide all the way up. They then took turns and played this way for over an hour!

At first glance, I almost put a stop to it. In my mind I could just picture all the dangers and accidents waiting to happen. After all, we are talking about school aged kids, a slide and a rope. It's a recipe for disaster. The rope burns, accidental strangulation, accidental falls from the top of the structure were all vivid in my mind's eye. Did I mention the rope has wooden handles and each time they flung it down the slide it came oh so close to taking out an eye? All these worst case scenarios where playing out in my head. Then I realized I WAS RIGHT THERE! The most serious thing that could happen was the someone would get a rope burn or get hit with the wooden handle. I stopped them for just a second and point out these dangers, reminded them to be safe and let them continue playing. I'm so glad I did.

Later they each talked about who the strongest kid was, who was the fastest coming up the slide, who did get a little rope burn and how they knew after that to let go immediately. They spoke excitedly and quickly among themselves, sharing information, deciding that that was an awesome game, making plans for improvements and they unanimously decided they would play again today.

I learned that danger lurks around every corner. I can make that the focus and try to protect kids from every possible scenario and kick myself when I miss something and they get hurt. I can choose to focus on the learning, point out the dangers, remind them to be safe and let them figure it out. I think the latter makes for better adults in the long run.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ready or Not, Here I Come

Years ago I wrote in my personal blog a post with this same title. It was about my daughter, who was born 10 days sooner than expected. When she was a bit older would stand at her crib and shake the bars and say, "I'm ready mom!", whenever she wanted me to take her out. Some times that was before I was awake or ready myself. She was in her crib because technically she was still a baby, not quite two, and yes, she spoke in clear complete (albeit short) sentences. She didn't so much speak as EXCLAIM! Everything that child uttered had TO BE WRITTEN LIKE THIS! She was and is still a force to be reckoned with. This same child did not walk until she was 18 months old. She has just grasped a hold of reading, she's 7 1/2 years old. She has to yet conquer a bike without training wheels. She sometimes still wets the bed.

All this to say, my child is pretty much like all other children. She's ready when she's ready. Sure, I can help her. I've spent countless (COUNTLESS) hours reading to her. I've taken her and her bike to the park every dry day we've had. Her dad still wakes her and takes her to the bathroom before before he heads to bed. We do this in an effort to support and train her in habits that we hope (actually we know) will stick with her. The issue is that with all our help and support, she'll be ready when she ready. What we do won't necessarily make her do these things sooner, it will hopefully just get her doing them when she's ready. So if you are banging your head against the wall because you've been potty training forever, relax. It'll click...eventually, when you're child is ready.

Did I mention that my girl potty trained herself at 18 months? Did I mention that after a few weeks of no accidents she announced she was done with potty training and proceed to have "accidents" to the point that for my sanity I put a diaper back on her, something I was vehemently criticized for. At about 2 1/2 years she was thankfully once again done with diapers, this time for good. (Except the night thing)

So if you are feeding your child a healthy, balanced diet, if your child is getting fresh air and a balance of active and quiet times, if your child is getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep, if you read to your child, engage him, love him, then your child is ready. He is ready for anything that comes his way and he will demonstrate his readiness when he's good and ready!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September - We Begin Again

I love September. I feel like it's a new year all over again. As much as I love the leisure, warm days of summer, I love the crisp mornings of September, the familiar routines, the looking inward after spending all of summer outside.

Come Tuesday we have so many wonderful things going on. Preschool enrollment is closed. We have two openings available for the after school enrichment program. I'm spending the weekend redoing the classrooms. The summer themes, sea shells, sand, fish etc, will be replaced with shades of Autumn, pumpkins, gourds, apples, orange, red and yellow leaves.

As always, our September theme for preschool is friendship and the changing of the season. For school age, because we have third and fourth graders and because it was such fun during summer, we will be going back in time in September. This time the emphasis will be Oregon history specifically, but we will be doing things the pioneers did including making raised beds and getting them ready for our spring plantings.

Our books this September will include:

For Preschool

Wild Child
One of my very favorite

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf


Help, A Story of Friendship

For School Age

The Courage of Sarah Noble

On to Oregon

Wishing all of you a safe and fun filled Labor day weekend. See you next week!