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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When the Time is Right

Jules here-
When Grace wasn't ready for preschool, I secretly vowed to never have my other kiddos go through that trauma either. The curriculum at preschool seems quite basic to me: learning letters, numbers, shapes, and social interactions.  Developing your own preschool at home is quite simple with the Internet and most resources you probably have at home.

Getting your child to sit and listen-- is another story.  Felicity has a much more--let's call it "stubborn"-- personality than Grace.  Since the beginning of our preschool year, she has not been into learning. I have come up with dozens of creative, fantastic, and enjoyable learning activities that she attempts for 5 minutes and says, "I'm done school now."

During Grace's history lessons, she usually sits and listens; she always enjoys stories and the fantastic video lessons I find, but she did nothing related to preschool. 

So around the holidays, I kind of gave up...  I just let her play during school time and threw my "curriculum" out the window....

Suddenly, in the past 4 weeks, she has started requesting worksheets like Grace has.  Luckily I am a homeschool-hoarder and I have an insane amount of materials.  Her fine motor skills have finally improved enough to do the worksheets: tracings, connecting lines, and circling things.  She is so proud of her "math" pages that we have dozens hanging on our wall right now! (Of course, the "recycle-fairy" will come and purge some of them during nap time...)  She somehow can easily recognize all her letters and letter sounds, numbers to 20, most shapes, and all the planets.

I am not a hippie-homeschooler when it comes to "let your children learn at his/her own time" but before the age of four-- I am definitely more flexible. As an occupational therapist, I am all about encouraging fine motor development; however, one must wait until the child can physically handle the tasks.  It baffles me when I see mothers forcing their 2-year-olds into a tripod grasp and trace letters!  Lissie did not have the ability to do many of the handwriting tasks required for preschool worksheets, and she preferred playing Leapfrog games and simpler tasks.  Personality-wise, she also hated being unable to complete a task, and she usually gave up in frustration.

As children reach kindergarten-age, I believe most are able to handle some "pushing" with regards to school-related activities.  Next year, I plan on starting Lissie in Kindergarten, and she will not have the choice to suddenly give-up on tasks.  She will have to learn to persevere through challenges and to take quick breaks to regroup and try again.  For now, I'm letting her learn at her own pace--and she's finally catching up with writing, math, and early-phonics.

I have friends who have 3-year-olds that have unbelievable writing skills and even early-reading tendencies-- Lissie's not there yet, but I am not comparing! Every child does learn at different developmental rates, and sometimes patience pays off.
Sweet, Silly & Stubborn: Our Felicity
 From potty-training to writing, try not to put your own expectations above what your child can developmentally perform.  If your child is not physically ready for a challenge, it can result in nightmarish power struggles between parent and child.  I gave up on potty-training Lissie at 2 1/2 because I was so tired of cleaning up messes... and the very next day-- she never went in her pull-up again.  Grace said at the time, "You know Mom, I think Lissie is doing better since we stopped potty-training her."

For now, I am just happy I have a little girl who can finally write her name. Even though her S's look suspiciously like 5's....

Easy Rule #9871- Relaxing your standards can make for a happier learning environment at home! Play is learning--so make it fun!

Easy Rule #98023-  Sometimes it takes giving up on something for it to finally click. 

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