Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Introduction


Well, my babies turned two today! I guess I can’t say babies anymore. Since they will probably be our only children, I try to make the very most of each day, to truly soak up all I can of then, but still it seems to be going by way too fast.

For those reading this blog, our twins, Jared and Alexa were born preemies, at 32 weeks. They were 3lb, 2oz (Alexa) and 3lb, 15 oz when they were born. I had the joy of one born vaginally and one C-section. After watching them with feeding tubes and in incubators for five weeks in the hospital, we were finally able to take them home.

All in all, they have been pretty healthy considering where they started from. A few ear infections, some bronchial problems, and a slight case of pneumonia is all we have had to go through so far, thank God.

Throughout this blog, I’d like to explore the philosophies I have regarding education and how to develop your children’s potential. This is not to say that everything I do with my children will always be perfect or that I won’t make mistakes along the way. It’s just a way for me to chronicle how and what my children learn, and what I can do to encourage their curiosity and wonder of the world.

So, on their first day of being two, after finishing breakfast, they did one of their favorite activities: playing in the water. They scoot the kitchen chairs up to the sink and play with bowls, cups and spoons under a small trickle of water. They’ve been doing this pretty regularly for about six months now. It’s amazing how they can just fill up a cup of water and pour it into an empty cup over, and over, and over again. Even more amazing is how well they take turns and usually don’t fight.

After that, they played in the flour, sugar, rice and sand. I just pour each into a different bowl, give Jared and Alexa spoons and let them go at it. Again, like the water, pouring can keep them busy for a LONG time. Jared took the bowl of flour, crawled under the table, and started to eat it. He looked so adorable with his sticky, flour face. Sensory experiences are so important for this age.

Another great sensory experience for toddler is drawing with chalk. Jared and Alexa absolutely love it. They were given a lot of sidewalk chalk for their birthday. I’ll write more in detail about my beliefs on the importance of early art experiences, but for now I’ll just say that they do something with art every single day. I love chalk because it is so easy to wipe off just about everything. They love drawing all over the walls in their rooms, the doors of the house, even on the floor. It’s a great way for them to have free range to experiment on how it feels to write on difference surfaces without leaving permanent damage! Alexa holds pens like an adult; actually she has for almost six months now, and loves to draw whenever she gets a chance. She’ll draw these big circles, stab at them with her finger and announce “circle.” It’s too cute! Jared definitely doesn’t quite share her passion for drawing, he’s more into organizing and rearranging the colors when they draw, but he still enjoys the tactile experience. They both have known all their colors for a few months now.

Besides playing with chalk this morning, they also took out their play food. Alexa LOVES to play with the food. She mainly loves to take each piece out and tell me what its name is. For her, naming real objects has been the best boost for her vocabulary. They also have a lot of play animals, and she will take each one out, hand it to me, and tell me its name. For their birthday, they received even more small plastic animals, so now she’s learned new names like lobster, hyena, buffalo, seahorse, and stingray.

Before their naps, we have a daily ritual that we always stick with. The main part is reading. I will write about their journey with books, letters and reading, but for now I’ll say that we usually read for about twenty to thirty minutes at a time. They snuggle up in my lap and we go through a big stack of books. Dr. Seuss is probably their favorite author. Right now the current Seuss favorites are: My Many Colored Days, Fox in Socks, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham. There’s also a series of books titled Mini Masters. Each title is based on one of the Impressionist painters such as Monet, Degas or Van Gogh. It will have a picture of the painting with prose to go along with it. They are one of my children’s favorite series. I just love it when Alexa says she wants to read “Nay” or Jared hands me a book and says “Day-ga.”

Another ritual is after they get up from their naps, I usually put something on for them to watch while they drink their milk. I’m not a big fan of T.V. for kids, but I do find a few DVD’s really useful. They have watched a series titled Your Baby Can Read since they were eleven months old. In the past few months, I have introduced a few more that they really love. Today they watched an episode from Reading Rainbow on DVD on farm life. While I hate to stick them in front of T.V. even if it is a DVD that is worthwhile, I do feel good about watching it with them. They have really learned a lot from our times together. For instance today we watched and talked about pigs, shearing sheep, boa constrictors, tarantulas, and livestock shows.

This is only my opinion, but I seriously wonder how parents can stick their kids in front of mindless cartoons when there are so many better programs out there, programs that will get them thinking and show them a little bit more about the world. Believe me, I know how there are times when you need even just fifteen minutes to get something done, so you have your kids watch something. I’m not at all criticizing that. It’s just a choice you can make. Just like to choice whether to give your child a whole wheat cracker or a cookie as a treat in the morning. I’m all for relaxing in front of the T.V. at night to mindless shows once in a while. Most people need to do that or some form of non-thinking activity. But young children have an incredible capacity and need, a real, deep need, to learn, not to be entertained (o.k. sometimes a fluffy show once in a while is fun, too). We need to give credit to children. Even two year olds can comprehend and enjoy watching how a cranberry farm works or how fun it looks to clog. They don’t need to watch flashy colors bounce around the screen or animated characters zip around in order to sustain their attention.

O.k. I’ll move on.

When Steve (my wonderful husband) came home, we went to McDonald’s for dinner. It was a special treat because they’ve only eaten there a few times before. They absolutely loved watching the kids play in the playground area. They are a little too small to run around in those spiral tube slides, but they really enjoyed watching the other kids. There was a very small section for smaller kids with a little slide which they enjoyed. After dinner we stopped by Jewel to pick up a cake. We saw a woman from church and stopped to talk for a few minutes. During our conversation, Jared pointed out a circle. She seemed a little taken aback. She said, “Did he say circle?” and then just as quickly she said, “Oh, that‘s right. You’re a teacher.” It kind of bothered me. So, because I taught public schools (not a great experience at all) before the kids were born, that’s supposed to be the reason why my son might be able to point out a circle? Like I wouldn’t have told him the name of a circle, say when he was playing with his shape sorter, if I hadn’t been a teacher? Why because it is a more “academic” type of thing to know does it seem surprising?

Anyway, when they came home they opened up a few presents we had saved for their actual birthday (they had opened the others at their birthday party with family on Saturday). We had bought them a toy boat and truck, stickers, three dinosaurs, and bubbles.

Well, those were some highlights of the day. I really didn’t think this post was going to be so long. I don’t think I’ll be able to write this much every day.

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