Monday, January 7, 2013

Looking back....

The past, the present, and the future.  I didn't post as much about the things we did at three and four as I should have and this year I intend to chronicle more of our education journey. 

Math in the early years....

Some history first:

Since I was about 20 and first learned about the Maria Montessori Method I knew I would eventually incorporate many of the methods or ideas into our future home.  Twenty-three years later I can look back and see I have indeed; along with some other Waldorf ideas and some of the Reggio approach as well.  Yeah, rather eclectic messes we are!  *smile* 

A couple years ago we went through a period of time where I was in a lot more pain, our two- year old angel was now a three-year old live wire.  A well meaning mom told me she thought our Bear was somewhere on the "Spectrum"....  What the heck did that mean?  It sent Hubs and I into a tail spin of questions.  We were sent to Internet self test sites.  I took the examination, my husband took it, we had grandma take it as well.  I came away with even more questions, since by their standards I was Autistic as well.  My husband and Grams found the same self diagnosis applied to them as well.  I now suspect the subjectivity.  I want to caution anyone taking an Internet self test for something like a learning disability or disorder like autism (or any test for a medical diagnosis). 

We eventually made an appointment with Bear's Pediatrician who has been her doctor since she was born. It had become that everything my barely three-year old daughter did was viewed with a slant to "does she have a spectrum disorder"......  Our doctor sat us down and listened to my concerns and in one visit made me face reality.  Children have stages, children are children and for most children these are normal and passing stages, but needed stages nonetheless.  He assured me that if I continued to have concerns we could pursue my concerns, but that he seen nothing in her behavior to indicate nothing more than an active and happy child.

I had become concerned if she said something was itchy; did she have a sensory disorder?  Children go through periods of sensitivity.  A desire for order.  They become absorbed, very absorbed, and the thing capturing their interest then might be the ONLY thing they feel like doing.  A child may do something repeatedly that we have said they can't do, like picking flowers and examining them at length, and rather than being willfully disobedient or showing signs of an autistic behavior, they are learning.  What is it, how does it work, why does it work, what happens if XYZ happens....  THEY ARE LEARNING.  Children need to explore.  I am not saying no child is on the "Spectrum" because some might be.  My desire is to share my experiences.  In my most humble opinion, and the opinion of our doctor, we are not.  She is a normal active child with a are very rich personality and imagination.

Nor am I saying you don't need to make sure your child is safe in the exploration.  What I am saying is they need time and space to explore and understanding parents.  My hubs was telling a story where his mother was told that if he got one germ on him he would die when he was a child...  his mother kept him that clean and sheltered as a small child.....  Kids need to play and explore, its vital to their learning.  Keep them safe but not cloistered.

4 yrs and helping to pour and mix bread
We fell into line with so many today and gave Bear a toy kitchen, and we were overjoyed with our choice. A wooden kitchen that did not create fake noise.  If something beeped, she had to make an audible beep for it.  We were so proud.  It was natural and would encourage imaginative play.....  with the kitchen came up teem play kitchen pots and pans and eating implements....  I still encouraged her  help in our family kitchen during this time.  She never fully fell in love with her "play" kitchen, she would much rather been playing and creating in the REAL kitchen.  We used real knives, with supervision, to cut things like cheese, carrots, celery, bread.  She was taught and encouraged how to make her own PB&J, spoon food into a bowl, mix bread...  I didn't realize her peers weren't doing these things at three.  Although, I will admit, Christmas baking is still a realm I should leave to me another year.....  we still miss a few ingreidients.  Our carrot cake, while still good, was missing the sugar this year.  Hubs remarked it wasn't as sweet as years past and I discovered we forgot the sugar.

Bear owns her own tool box and in the box she has a hammer, a flat head screwdriver, Philips driver, wrench, pliers, goggles, etc.  We had to shop around a bit, getting real working tools, that were light weight enough for little hands, but we did find some, and not for very much money either.  Home Depot carries a lot.  Her dream now is her own battery drill.  *grin*  Play tools held very little appeal because they couldn't make things. She wanted, and still wants, to be able to help mom and dad, and create things beside us. 

Sorting is a wonderful early math game you can do with your child.  We still do it sometimes.  At three our homeschool studies consisted of sorting colors and then textures.  We sorted all sorts of things.  Sometimes using tongs to lift them from one bowl to another.  We sorted cars, beads, noodles, pompoms, silverware, pattern blocks, etc. and we still do those things from time to time because we made it into a game.  In fact as I write this Bear has her pattern blocks out and is sorting them by color and making shapes from the shapes.  These were an item I got out recently after being put up for a few months.  They were placed low on her shelf for strewing purposes.  And she discovered them again and is new found love for the discovery they are again providing. 

Don't forget counting.  Just plain old counting games.  We still do these, a lot.  They have just gotten to be bigger numbers.  We started off counting to 5, then 10, and so on.  Now we seem to be able to go on for ages, with a few reminders.  Count steps you take on walks.  Count rocks on walks.  Count everything.  This is how we are introducing concepts like adding and subtracting as well.  You would be surprised how easy it is, and FREE.

Bear was so small.... 
Next  I will share some wonderful early geography games we did and enjoyed. 

Linking up today with Teachers of Good Things

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