Thursday, 12 February 2015

Leave a Valentine-Making Station

Ever since Ladybug Girl turned old enough to understand Valentines day, we've made cards.  Just cards.  You would think that with all the craze and craft ideas out there, I would cook up something fancy.  

Nope, I've stuck with cards.  Here's why.

Materials are cheap and plenty:  

paper, stickers and pens.  bam.

 It makes for great no-brainer floor time together after work:
Doing it together models the practice, and the value of thoughtfulness

And best of all - you've got an instant high-interest activity tray for leave-behind play!  If you didn't know this yet, I love a good activity that Ladybug Girl can have fun learning with while I'm at the office.  There's a whole gallery built on this here.

In our early years, I started leaving behind super-simple card-making prompts like this:

that started out as a blank card, pink and red pencils, and cool stickers

A year older, I began to leave a box for letter-making.  Which she later filled with her finished cards and marked for the occasion:

The "Val(entine's) Day Box" : so special, she wrote in real letters instead of her then-usual scribbles.

Growing collection inside the box.
You can tell she wasn't big on handwriting then, but she brought the box to school and handed valentines out to her classmates

This year, to encourage her to actually write words on the cards, our card-making station looks like this:
We had all these materials in her art shelf, just now repurposed for Valentines

The top reason I've stuck with card-making year after year?  I see how she's grown better at it.
First her handwriting:

But best of all, her thoughtfulness.
This year I'm amazed how she had personal insight into each person she chose.

Raj gets the minecraft card; Allie gets her favourite cookies all over hers; and so on.

Sometimes the simplest traditions are the best, don't you think?

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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Our Last Year At Montessori Preschool

January is when application submissions for our next school choice begin.  In a few short months, Ladybug Girl will be leaving Montessori preschool behind.  

I'm already homesick.  

Pre-school has been the best time so far.  Watching her discover the world has made me genuinely enjoy her company when we play.  So innocent.  Too fleeting.

Her last birthday ceremony at her Montessori pre-school.  She's blowing out the candle representing the sun.
A couple of months ago, she turned six.  I had been noticing her beginning to change, so much so that I freed myself from blogging-related commitments to devote to getting to know this new person emerging.

The physical changes were only a small part.

She has new play patterns : far more independent from me and far more imaginative.  When I ask if she wants to play together, "no thanks" is now among her possible answers!  Complete turnaround.

Lately I've been reading further along this Montessori book for some insights on her age group to confirm my suspicions somehow.  I'm amazed once again by how insightful the work of Maria Montessori was:  children from birth to five years old learn about the physical environment around them and that's why so much play is focused on sensorial learning (as we have).

But children from six to twelve years old are now expanding skills to explore life beyond the present moment - that means emotionally, historically and imaginatively.  These changes were the bigger part.

Lately she's been getting lost in pretend-play for an hour and beyond

Reading chapter books now.  She'll read quietly in bed for a while and then I'll read a chapter out loud before lights out.

Writing out secret codes and excluding me from the action

So to tell you the truth, maybe I'm also a little homesick for the way we used to play.  So interdependent, like a team.  But I know my little girl will always keep building her personality onto the one I helped form.

Now as I get to know my little blooming girl a little bit better everyday, my parenting methods will change but my style will be the same.  To have hands-on, do-it-yourself parenting and (dare I say it?) no regrets about having a career.

Now how do I get through writing about a thousand ideas and pictures of backlog alongside these new insights - I have no idea yet.  In time, in time.

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