As part of Write Alm’s November Prompts, I saw that today’s prompt is: Harmony!
My daughter, Harmony, is now almost twenty-nine months old, or close to two and a half years. I’ve already posted about what our daily life looks like as home-schoolers, so here are more details of what we’re currently doing. It’s important for me to document what we’re doing as I study how children learn and what environment they learn best in, as well as understand better who my own child is and how she learns!
Harmony LOVES doing what I call “school”: projects with me or Chris that involve colors, numbers, letters, words, etc. Her favorite thing is for us to lightly write letters or words on a piece of paper so she can use a marker or pencil and trace over them. Also fun is color sorting, finger-painting, tracing/naming shapes, and spotting the differences in pictures on worksheets. Part of the fun is that she gets one-on-one time with us, and part of it is that she likes challenging herself to learn and focus. She will ask to do “school” with us.
We do allow limited use of technology now for Harmony. Almost every day she either watches a Richard Scarry Alphabet dvd or the Numbers dvd. They are twenty minutes long, sweetly done with music and singing and fun repetition that she adores. Sometimes she’ll watch an episode of Magic School Bus. She also likes to play an alphabet game that we downloaded for free on our iPad. It allows her to trace letters and words with her finger, explore pronunciations of letters, see pictures representing letters, and practice beginning spelling. We also listen to a lot of Bible songs on the radio or My Little Pony songs on Youtube. She requests music every day.
Harmony is truly having a good time with writing! She recognizes all her letters and likes to trace them. She also seems to be teaching herself basic words to read, recognizing certain words in her books and ones that we write for her to trace. This is NOT something we have pushed her to do. Writing is something that I love; she sees me do it often, and she’ll ask to “write letters too” with mama at the dining room table while I write a letter or in my journal!
We read an incredible amount of books together, too, which contributes to both of our love for words. I try to read different genres and levels of books: picture books for imagination, “educational” books about colors/seasons/shapes/etc., story books, introductory fairy tales, old classics such as Peter Rabbit, poetry for children, nursery rhymes, and science books (her favorite is the Magic School Bus book about honey bees). She is also memorizing songs and rhymes that she likes.
I will sometimes suggest activities for her to do, or ask if she’d like me to read to her, and follow her direction. If she says “no” to something I volunteer, I don’t force it. If she agrees, then we spend time together doing the activity until I can tell she is getting tired of it. If she seems bored, I’ll suggest something else.
She is learning how to play more independently, which is good too because I don’t want her to think that I am there to constantly entertain her! She is ALWAYS welcome to help with chores around the house. This week she:
~ Made pumpkin pie with me
~ Made her scrambled eggs for lunch with my help
~ Washed potatoes and peeled garlic for soup
~ Swept with her little broom while I swept
~ Learned how to rinse dishes off to put in the dishwasher
~ Put away the tupperware and silverware from the clean dishes
~ Sorted dirty laundry into piles for washing
~ Picked up her toys in the den
~ Made her bed
~ Took the sheets and blankets off our beds for washing
~ Helped daddy rake and pick up all the leaves in the front and back yards
~ Wiped off the dining room table with a washcloth
~ Helped with grocery shopping
I ask her if she’d like to help, and when she says “yes”, I give her a job to do. If she doesn’t want to help me, that’s fine, but I expect her to not hinder me or whine while I try to get my work done! Sometimes she chooses to go look at books by herself or play in her room while I work.
Not everything we do is “educational”. I try not to turn every moment into a lesson of some kind. We are not in a rush for Harmony to do academics if she doesn’t want to or for her to be measured with some kind of standardized achievement test.
As humans, we’re learning and growing all the time, whether academically, or in our character, or our personality, or socially, or in a specific skill, but sometimes we are just having fun or relaxing! Just like I enjoy sitting on the couch chilling with a movie, Harmony likes to watch Clifford occasionally, or we’ll go play at the park for hours, or we’ll walk to the local bakery for a cookie. Play is one of the most important things a child can do!
Much of what she does during the day is her choice. It’s a constant time of learning for us as parents and teachers, as well. We are teaching her that she needs to follow our directions when we do give them, such as getting her diaper changed so that she doesn’t get a rash (we’re potty-training, but not rushing it!), not chasing the cat, not leaping off the chairs, washing her hands after she uses the bathroom, and other similar things. Yet we want her to learn self-discipline, freedom, and independence, so we try to avoid ordering her around or needlessly saying “no”.
Ultimately, we want her childhood to be full of joy, play, curiosity, love, discovery, and wonder!
For more details on why play is so important for children, check out the great writing of Teacher Tom.