{not} painting day

30.6.15 0 comments
We didn't paint today, but we read a book, and colored some pages (donated by one of our parents).
Colouring was different from painting because the kids were all talking about the different types of fish....their work needed no interpretation.
We read Commotion in the Ocean, a funny and fact-filled book about sea creatures.

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Am I the only person who "dislikes" yoga?

Z and her bff doing yoga
My daughter practices yoga (I should say 1 of my daughters)...She has scoliosis and was advised to do so. I had to learn about yoga because my child was ill - still is, but I could never connect with it,  so I passed. At the time I felt like I was the only one who didn't do, or was not interested in yoga.

Of course whenever I mention the fact that I don't do it or like it, I  would get, and still continue to get comments like " probably just didn't do it right..." or  "...well it's not for everyone but..." Yeah, that could be true.

In all of my life I have tried yoga 3 times, and it isn't something I want to do. Don't get me wrong, I know that there are serious students and teachers, err practitionersI have 2 very good friends who practice yoga - one is a teacher as well.  For the life of me, I just cannot connect, but I see how they have connected and it's pretty positive.

What I have noticed, or noticed years ago was the conformity, and the teaching of the idea of spirituality, or rather, the idea of imitating the spiritual. What I have also had an issue with is the marketing and advertising of the "idea" that yoga  can fill a void in our lives. I just think a lot of people have jumped on a bandwagon, and they have little or no idea about connecting with themselves, much less others.
Anyways, I don't have a historical analysis of the practice of yoga, so I won't delve into murky waters. The reason I am writing this is because Z has taken to yoga, which is probably because her big sister does it.  So I started thinking about the possibility of incorporating yoga into our daily rhythm, one morning...about 20 minutes of our time. 

All of my hang ups about yoga, are sort of in question. The thing is, I think yoga is just not for me. I just don't like it. Last week, I was having a conversation about my dislike for yoga, and mentioned Z's downward dog with her favorite friends (she always has a teddy bear or a doll by her side). 

My friend insisted that I encourage Z to do yoga, and perhaps I should even incorporate it into my dayhome program. Whoa, slow down there, I shot back...seriously?
Her conclusion...essentially true yoga is an art form that can teach the kids empathy and compassion - not to mention other benefits such as keeping active, and relieving stress. 

Am I the only person who hates yoga? Probably...
Can I hate yoga & still incorporate it into my business? Hmmm...everybody needs an outlet - I agree! Yoga is just not mine.  At this point
, I will probably never like yoga, but I am open to just about anything that will benefit the kids in the long run. This is doable...I think I will recruit Iman for the job. I'll keep you posted!

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Monday Monday & Mud Day

29.6.15 0 comments

I like mud.
I like it on my clothes.
I like it on my fingers,
I like it on my toes.
Dirt’s pretty ordinary
And dust’s a dud.
For a really good mess-up
I like mud.

I love this little rhyme, don't you? Today we celebrated Mud day. Do you know about it? See here.
I have to be honest about our little mud play - I expected more dirty hands and clothes, but the kids were cautious.  I think if one child had dug in a bit, then it would be a messy go from there, but nope- not today.

We also did some dinosaur footprints, but they wanted to go back to good ole mixing.
The plan was to have the kiddies do one muddy hand print for a special Small Wonders project that I am planning, but no again.  I did however get Z to muddy her feet :)

So what did the kids do? 

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4 Reasons to let young kids do chores

Z is the youngest, and she stays close to me. She draws up her stool or bench to the stove, table, or counter and digs right in. Everyone agrees she is (out of all the kids) most like me. I always have a little helper. Sometimes it's overwhelming, because I don't want her help.  
Sometimes I need to move fast, and don't have time for encouragement or instruction. The thing is she is a leader, she doesn't want to hear anything from me; and when she's focused, don't ever try to stop her.

I first wrote about helping kids manage play spaces here, but what happens when they want to help you manage your space? At 21 months, I know it's not practical to call her from her activities to come and help with specific chores, but make no mistake, putting away toys and helping to gather dirty clothes for laundry is something she excels in - if she is in the mood. If she's not in a good mood, then don't even ask.
The question is if I have to encourage and bargain with my child to put away toys, why in the world does she want to help me cook, or clean alongside me? I think the answer is obvious - it just seems more interesting.  Honestly, most of the time it seems like a lose-lose from my side. Having a (sort-of) Waldorf inspired home, purposeful work is always at the forefront of my mind. However, I spend my whole day with kids, instructing, grooming ,encouraging; it can be a bit daunting. At the end of the day, there are just some things that I need to get done - as soon as possible.

Many parents know what I am talking about here. The pressure of having a little one hanging around trying to imitate mom or dad when time is of an essence can be complicated. In fact, the time it takes to get the chore done is not only doubled or tripled, but also leaving me with an end result of rattled nerves.

Lately, Z insists on being a helper every single day, and I have been complying because there are so many benefits to allowing and teaching a child to do anything, especially if her heart is set on it.
But I'll be honest, the above reason was my 2nd thought, the reality is that at first I was worn out from trying to keep her distracted so that I could do my work.
Here are some reasons I let my young kid do chores/work with me (even when I really don't have the time):  
Great bonding/teaching moments - We are all busy parents, and it seems the only time we get to spend with our kids is when we are worn out. It's great for kids to be a part of the fixing/cleaning process, instead of having you walk around them.

Teaches patience - This goes both ways. From a parents' standpoint a simple task can become a momentous task with the help of a child - get over it! Commit to allowing your child to help at least once a week. From a child's point of view helping can sometimes be on their terms- my 4 year old does this. A task that takes more than 5 minutes, and calls for a lot of attention teaches him that work is not always fun.

Promotes a positive attitude - Often as children grow, they hear us mumbling and complaining about how stressful this or that is. The word chore or work seems like an inherently negative things. Having your child help with small jobs, can make them feel that they are giving back, not just taking. As they get older this is very important.

Teaches responsibility - Of course at 21 months I will not be lecturing my child about household responsibilities, but they do grow so fast. Allowing kids to start early by helping around the house, says a few things:
  • you are a contributor to our family
  • you have skills
  • you can learn skills
There may come a time when chores will become "boring". My teens are notorious for using this word to describe just about anything these days. Perhaps even you will be seen as boring :) Essentially, your child will just not be interested in tagging along or listening to you explain how to do a specific task. Until that time comes (if it does), I say treasure the days, however many you are given, and keep encouraging your child to do just a little each day.

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Let's take it outside!

28.6.15 2 comments
I've never had a second thought about whether Small Wonders should be a nature-based program. However, I do worry at times that parents don't always know what that entails. And sometimes I find myself asking if parents are truly on board and whether the benefits that I can offer their children,  outweigh the risks of answering to parents if things go wrong.
On the kiddie end, it's also not always that simple. The effort of getting them all ready for the outdoors is nothing like the craziness of boots, mitts, heavy jackets and snow-pants for fall or winter. I am so thankful for that. But there are always the little hiccups that set us back a little. 
The hiccups have not been on my mind as much as the possibility of stings, scrapes, and falls. We have had a few falls/trips, soaking wet clothes, and a few tears, but, thankfully no stings or bites. I hope it stays that way.
The kids express sheer joy at the thought, or promise of going outside - I love it! Watching them never gets boring. The smallest things set them off- sometimes they are scared, but mostly, they are amazed or can be heard squealing with delight about a "new" discovery.
All I can say is that I have spent enough time with the kids to see them develop social, and motor skills that they wouldn't develop as quickly in the safety of a playroom.
So what are the benefits of nature play?
According to Nature play solutions, some benefits include:
  • Children who play regularly in natural settings are sick less often. Mud, sand, water, leaves, sticks, pine cones and gum nuts can help to stimulate children’s immune systems as well as their imaginations.
  • Children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active and are less likely to be overweight.
  • Children who play in natural settings are more resistant to stress; have lower incidence of behavioral disorder, anxiety and depression; and have a higher measure of self-worth.
  • Children who play in natural settings play in more diverse, imaginative and creative ways and show improved language and collaboration skills.
  • Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other.
  • Bullying behavior is greatly reduced where children have access to diverse nature-based play environments.
  • Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder are reduced after contact with nature.
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