Open thread

Published by Lori Pickert on February 13, 2010 at 01:39 PM

If you do not push the boundaries, you will never know where they are. — T.S. Elliot

Anyone around this weekend want to chat about this or that? I’m here…


Comment by Stacey on February 13, 2010 at 04:07 PM

I'm here, a little gun shy about saying anything but still I'm here.

We've discovered science experiments in the last few weeks. My job is to take the books out of the library and find the supplies. Alder checks out the pictures and chooses what he wants to do. Usually we have one official experiment that leads to an hour or two of his own variations.

It amazes me how frustrated I was six months ago just wanting him to be learning, to beyond our everyday lives now at 3.5 he is asking to do these things, I stay quiet as I can trying not to push him. It is so exciting to watch him learn.

Comment by sarah :: greenclogs on February 13, 2010 at 04:46 PM

I'm here!

We had such a great day of boundary pushing earlier this week - ice skating of all things.

As I've talked about before, Annika has Perfectionism Issues. We've had some incidents lately when she has been out on roller skates with her friends, and ended up in tears and angry because she couldn't keep up. The same friends invited my kids ice skating on Wednesday. They've been before, and mine never have been. I was VERY reluctant to take her and have her melt down again in front of everyone, because really - I'm so over her doing that. So we sat down and had a long talk about how she wasn't going to be in the same place as they were, skill wise, and she was going to need to be patient and work hard and only worry about herself instead of comparing where she was with everyone else. She knew that she'd be sitting in the warm room with the mommies at the first sign of a meltdown.

So we went. And she slowly made her way around the edge of the rink. She let go of the wall a few times. She came back in to get her skates tightened. And then she skated! She used the 'walker" when she got tired. Her friends helped her get up when she fell. Then she got herself up when she fell. She skated farther and faster and the grin got bigger.

She came in to take a break and said "Mom! The girl in the tutu fell down! Even really good skaters fall down!" and then went back out onto the ice. On the way home we talked about how no matter how good you are, you still fall down when you try new things and that you won't learn anything new if you're not willing to risk falling down.

So maybe it only applies to ice skating and we'll still be operating in the safe zone in other ways. But maybe, just maybe she'll apply the lesson elsewhere. I will be one happy mommy if she does.

Man, that was long. I should have turned it into a blog post and just linked it. Sorry!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 13, 2010 at 08:30 PM

stacey, that sounds wonderful! and why the heck are you gun shy?! ;^)

sarah, great story! i’m sure you can help her remember this when there’s a next time. :^) and re: long, i feel that way every other time i post a comment. :^P

Comment by kort on February 14, 2010 at 02:43 AM

copied this into my journal this afternoon..."at home...children spend most of their time at the frontiers of their learning." (from Educating Children at Home by Alan Thomas) isn't that a lovely image? at the frontiers. it's a good place to be.

Comment by Anne Thrall-Nash on February 14, 2010 at 05:25 AM

Ok, I'll jump in. My son is only 2.5, so mostly we read A LOT and mess about with different materials (art and otherwise). I've always intended to homeschool him and any other kids we have, but I'm having such a hard time biting my tongue with our various art experiments when he does things differently than I intended, having such a hard time not pushing him, such s hard time with people that don't understand why we're not in classes every day, I despair at my ability to stay the course. It seems all too easy to hop on the carousel of preschool and endless enrichment activities. Sigh

Comment by Kat on February 14, 2010 at 07:03 AM

Hi Lori,

I'm so glad I found your blog, it is such an inspiration.

I have been wanting to learn more about the Reggio approach and project-based learning. I know I still have time to figure things out since my son is only 15 months old, but I just wanted to gather as much information as possible. However, I'm starting to feel a little bit overwhelmed with all the information and I have no idea where and when to begin.

I was wondering how early can I start?

In addition to English, I also speak another language which is my first language. I really want him to know both languages equally well in terms of writing and speaking, but I'm a little bit unsure of how I should approach it. Should I use one of the languages as our main means of communication on a daily basis and treat the other as a foreign language, or should I alternate? I currently speak to him mainly in my mother tongue and my husband speaks English to him. If we choose to homeschool, I'll be the one who stays at home with him. I was wondering if you have any experiences with this and if so what are the pros and cons?

In the meantime what type of projects or activities would you recommend for a child at this age to sort of "prepare" them for the next step? I'm especially interested in anything that's art-related.

I didn't mean for my post to be this long, the questions were just pouring out of me as I started writing. Sorry about that.

Thank you for reading:)

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 14, 2010 at 03:55 PM

kort, i love that. :^) that is a great place to be, and where we want them to be. i usually talk about kids being at their “challenge level” — the place where they are challenged just the right amount. it’s much easier at home to keep kids at that front edge of learning because, i think, that’s where they naturally gravitate — if their love of learning hasn’t been squashed out of them.

thank you!

hi anne :^)

it is too easy! it’s all out there and so much simpler to just choose prearranged activities...

it’s great to mess around and have open-ended art experiences, and that’s getting him ready for project work *and you* — since you have to practice hanging back and letting him take the lead. :^) really get into that role of observing and documenting and i think it becomes apparent 1, how much more learning he is doing when he grabs the controls and puts his own ideas into action and 2, how much more eager to work he’ll be when he’s following his own path rather than trying to do something the “right” way.

you can still join in on preschool activities if you find the right ones. my older son was in an open studio art class when he was two. he loved it. there were materials out for four or five different activities and kids could do with them what they wanted — though most of their parents sat with them telling them what to do!

funny how early you run into that parent v. parent, child v. child competition, isn’t it? just know that the things that will most drive them crazy is your confidence and simple enjoyment of life and your son. ;^)

kat, how early can you start? a great question.

i prepared a “curriculum guide” for a parent-education program where the children were toddlers too young for preschool. my focus was on laying the foundation for future project work — letting children become accustomed to working independently, making choices, free exploration of materials, etc. i would recommend the same to you: open-ended materials (e.g., blocks), high-quality art materials, a wide variety of recycled materials to cut/paste/tear/glue/paint, a wide variety of natural materials to extend block play, simple fabrics squares for playing dress-up, lots and lots of books... think along the lines of establishing attitudes and habits that will serve you later. try to arrange his environment so he can work independently (keeping toys in low containers so he can reach them and put them away again), let him explore art materials and have his own ideas, celebrate his work.

re: two languages, i have read quite a bit about this and i suggest you do some research online — i know people take strong sides about the best way to introduce that second language, and i can’t say which approach is best. being multilingual is a wonderful thing and well worth working toward!

hope this helps, and please feel free to ask for more specifics if i’ve been too vague! ;^)

thank you for commenting!

Comment by Anne Thrall-Nash on February 14, 2010 at 09:14 PM

Thank you for the answer to Kat's question. This helps me believe we're on the right track, as long as I can sit on my hands and keep my mouth shut!! I cannot believe how hard that is, even when I know it's best.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 14, 2010 at 11:57 PM

anne, i know! it just goes to show how much training we have absorbed ..

there is a right way and a wrong way and you should do things the right (planned) way ..

teachers teach; students follow directions ..

adults know more than kids ..

and on and on. and we learn these *as* children, then turn around and perpetuate them as adults. interesting.

hard habits to break, but very worth it!

Comment by Cassie on February 15, 2010 at 02:03 PM

To Kat: Can I recommend that one of the places you look for information on raising a bilingual child is here?:

It is a page based on a pamphlet written for the Linguistic Association of America by two colleages of mine, Prof. Antonella Sorace and Prof. Bob Ladd, who in addition to being linguists, and experts in the field of language acquisition, and in particular bilingual language acquisition, are a married couple who have raised two bilingual sons.

Good luck! My own reading in and around the area of bilingual language acquisition (reading for my own research) shows it to be terrifically beneficial for both child and parent.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 15, 2010 at 04:50 PM

cassie, thank you for the great advice!

Comment by mary on February 16, 2010 at 05:15 AM
Comment by Kat on February 16, 2010 at 05:41 AM

Lori and Cassie, thank you for the advice!

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 16, 2010 at 03:08 PM

mary, thank you! i hadn’t watched that one! :)

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