Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Watching and learning.

I LOVE this age - Lolly seems to be expanding in all directions, language, interests, sense of humour, independence, it's just a joy to watch.  I think what a lot of parents at this age feel is what on earth can I do with a toddler all day?  I used to find days at home intimidating, partly because it falls totally on me to "keep her amused" and is, somehow, a lot more work than if we go out visiting, to the shops, to the library or playground.  While I do (and always have) included her in whatever I do, my work is computer based, and leaves her with a lot of time where I'm computering and she's doing...what?  Television, or tasks where she wants me to participate too, which causes both of us annoyance.  I think a certain amount of this competing needs is normal, and can't be avoided, I do think setting up interesting things to do, and making sure they stay fresh, really helps both of us.  Me to get some time, and her to develop and stay challenged.

Nothing to see here!

Once we started at Nido at the Montessori school (which we still struggle to attend regularly because of our many and varied illnesses this year), I started building on some things we already did with Lolly to keep her interested and engaged when she felt like doing things at home.  In the interests of honesty, I have to say a big goal of mine is finding things she likes to do without me.  Toddlers are draining, and all of us have times when we'd rather be mindlessly surfing the web, reading a book, or *gasp* even doing housework.  While I do a lot of this stuff with Lolly, I have times where I'd just rather be quick than instructional.  I have plans to start a doctorate (I confess, this will be my second attempt!) in the next few months, so time to study and read is getting to be a priority, too.  Sorting and containers are the best for this at the moment.  She loves to sort and swap things (things that make noise, like marbles or coins) from one container to another, carry them round, then find something else to put 'em in!  In the mornings when she's bright and fresh, she can amuse herself productively for ages with variations of these tasks.

Hence exploring activities and challenging things for a toddler/young child to do!  Reading Montessori work, particularly blogs, has been fantastic.  The biggest effect has been my approach to organisation.  I'd always been fairly organised with her toys, and only had a limited palette out for her, but have now got more systems in place, and much less clutter.

I love seeing this pay off.  For example, she has never asked me to play with her train set, we had only ever done this as an introduced activity, usually when DinnerDad and I want to watch television and she's not interested in the show.  You can get another quarter hour of parental viewing time out of her with trains :D.  The trains had been in a box on her shelves, taking up space.  I shifted them to an open drawer in her storage box in her room on the weekend, and showed her where they are.  This morning she went in, asked for the drawer to be taken to the lounge, and set up this by herself while I made coffee and toast.  She has not been able to fit the pieces together herself before either.  So, wow!

I do spend a lot of time with her while doing chores.  She particularly likes washing up.  We did have a breakage this morning, but generally this is not a problem.  I just clean up without comment, if you have anything desperately precious, I'd suggest storing it while your kids are this age!  Here she is assisting me.  This stool was a great buy, though it can be a tad slippery when just on the tiles.  It's bulky, but she can carry it herself.

She seemed to want more water play, so I tried a new easel activity (still trying to keep her interest in the easel up!), water painting on the chalk board - which I read here at the Artful Parent.  She did this for 10 minutes or so, but really wanted me to participate, which wasn't on the cards :D.  ETA - she went back outside to do more of this in the afternoon, which was nice. 

While I wrote the first part of this post, this is what Lolly did:

Now how adorable is that!

PS I wrote this yesterday and only now finished off the photos :D.

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