Autumn has arrived! (Officially autumn arrived a couple of weeks ago but now I actually believe it). The sun is setting earlier and the nights are cooler. It hasn't been above 30 degrees for a whole week. It even rained last week! It's such a refreshing change. It's brought energy. I feel motivated to reflect on the year so far.
I was nervous about embarking on 2015. There were a lot of challenges to negotiate and it got off to an uneasy start. There has been a lot of change and a fair bit of uncertainty. That said I think we're doing ok. Work is challenging but I'm starting to enjoy it and I'm starting to feel settled. I am exhausted at the end of my 2 and a half days of work. But I am coping - even now right at the end of my pregnancy.
Tom's new job has been such an incredible gift from God. It is a lot of work but it really has been a positive change. Last year Tom was at home 2 days per week to care for Bear. This year he has needed to work full time so Bear has been cared for outside our home.
The timing has been just right for Bear. God amazingly answered my anxious prayers for a fantastic carer. She is a lovely quiet, gentle lady. She has been caring for little children for 20 years and obviously has a deep love and respect for them. I feel so confident leaving Bear in her care. He comes home tired but you can't wipe the smile off his face. He comes home relaxed and happy.
I've been trying to do Montessori with Bear at home. I've learned a lot by trial and error and my understanding and expectations have evolved. My goal has been to help Bear learn concentration, coordination, language and responsibility in this toddler period. On a day to day level I find the more time and effort I manage to invest in preparing his environment the smoother and more enjoyable our days at home become.
These are the things I've come to realise:
What does autumn hold for us? Lots of gardening (my favourite thing). The arrival of a newborn son/brother for Bear. Lots of friends and family coming and going. Maternity leave. A trip to Sydney to visit a newborn nephew/cousin. Lots more change and many more challenges to come. But lots to look forward to!
"When we speak of a free child we speak of a child free to follow the powerful guides of nature within him. These guides are extremely wise, and lead the child to seek exactness, precision, and the full achievement of what he undertakes. The child is lead by nature to go into all the details. This is what we want for success in education."
It's been so interesting watching Bear work on this activity over several months. It's been on and off the shelves every other week and hasn't ever had a lot of attention. I'd put it out for a week, it would be ignored, I'd put it away for a couple of weeks before bringing it out again. If I showed it to Bear he'd play with the animals for a little while or handle the cards but soon move off to do something else. I'd demonstrate how to match the animals by standing them on their card. He'd have a go but would stand an animal on any card randomly... then knock them all over!
Today he just got it! He's been matching them on purpose and for fun. I can't believe how long he spent crawling all over the floor to try this one here and that one there. He didn't get them all right every time which didn't seem to bother or frustrate him but he did notice that they weren't quite right. It was a real pleasure to watch as if a little light bulb had been switched on for him.
It was also interesting to see him take a break from matching at one point to line all the animals up head to tail. Then he went straight back to the matching game. Having such a lovely time exploring, experimenting, practicing.
Its so exciting to watch him learn so happily and unconsciously. It makes the effort of rotating his materials and coming up with new challenges for him completely worthwhile. I wonder what his next big discovery will be.
I've been thinking hard about how to prepare Bear for the arrival of a baby. I'm not sure how much he can understand at 20 months about what's going to happen. I suspect not very much. That said we want to give him the benefit of the doubt and talk to him as if he can understand. My main objective is to teach Bear what a newborn baby is like and what it does.
I've had a hunt around for a good board book that introduces babies to very young toddlers. I couldn't find anything I was happy with. I wanted to find something that had realistic pictures of newborns in board book format so that Bear could independently explore it without doing it damage. I liked this one the best - the content seemed relevant and age appropriate but the pictures weren't realistic - I might get it for him later, once he's met the baby. In the mean time I've made some cards for him instead.
I found this book at an op shop and had to buy it (I remembered it satisfying my adolescent curiosity when I first found it on my mum's book shelf back in the day). It has beautiful photos of newborns doing newborn things. I photocopied them onto photo paper, cut them out and laminated them onto some cardboard. They came out nice and robust.
We use them to talk about what babies are like and what they do i.e. sleep, nappy changes, baths, cuddles, cry... The cards live in a basket in Bear's baby drawer (the only drawer in the playroom that isn't Bear-proof) with his baby doll, a blanket, a bib, a washcloth and a soft rattle.
A baby doll
I was so inspired by this post to put out a baby doll for Bear. Why not teach boys to care for baby dolls? How important are tender, gentle, confident fathers!
We look at the baby's face and body and point out his eyes, nose, ears, fingers and toes. We take his clothes off and put them back on. We cover him with a blanket. We take turns cuddling him.
Bear doesn't choose to get the baby out on his own. I guess he's still just not that interested. He's much more interested in pushing his truck, building train tracks and throwing balls. Every now and then I suggest to him that we explore in his baby drawer and he enjoys playing with the baby together.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.