Sunday, September 30, 2012

For the love of our children

It is amazing how much I love my children. People describe it, your parents tell you about it (hopefully), but you have NO IDEA until you actually have children of your own. They are literally a piece of your heart walking around in the outside world. They are that vulnerable, that fragile, that able to be damaged, lost or broken. But they are also a beacon of light, a reminder of all that is good in the world, all that is good within yourself. How can this tiny package be so much, yet so small?

When you have a newborn, the love and protectiveness is fierce. Literally fierce. You are their everything. It is so awesome but so difficult. The lack of sleep, loss of time for yourself, the simple task of taking a shower becomes a 3 day project. But when that baby looks up into your eyes, there is just nothing like it in the entire world.

Then Terrible 2's hit, and what I like to call the Defiant 3's and you are going crazy. I remember wishing I was deaf. Please poke my eardrums out!!! (Ok a bit dramatic) But it is stressful as these walking, talking toddlers/preschoolers are flexing their independence muscles but can't really do much at the same time. They tantrum over EVERYTHING! Literally I can't count how many times my kids tantrumed over going somewhere great like the park or the zoo. Not like I was taking them to toddler boot camp for pete's sake! And the embarrassment in public is astonishing. As if a tantruming 2 1/2 year old is something new or something everyone with kids hasn't experienced! (If you are one who hasn't, please call me, I have a job for you).

Now I am in the sweet spot - the 4-9 year old range. They are old enough to be quite independent, but young enough to still be a cuddle bug. We can do a ton of cool things: play mini golf, go out to a restaurant, go to the movies, ice skating......I can breathe at the playground. I don't have to be on top of them every minute. I can literally say "Go play" and they're gone for hours and are fine. However, with that comes a glimpse into the future. This is when they start to break away. They need us less and less, they want our help less and less. They start to care more about their friends and what THEY think. It hasn't started completely yet but make no mistake, it is starting.

I feel like I've blinked and the last 8 years have gone by. Which begs the question - how fast will the next 8 go? I have tantrums of a different kind to look forward to, first crushes, broken hearts, first dates, best friend rivalries, first dances, first kisses, doors being slammed in my face, sister fights over clothes, loud, obnoxious music, concerts, hormones (as a friend puts it - pre-teen wolf), DRIVING!!!!! Honestly, it scares the crap out of me. I'm going to wake up one day very soon and they'll be going off to college.

So I sit here as they sleep upstairs and realize I have a precious few minutes to treasure with them. Amidst some tears, waining tantrums, and some eye rolling, I consistently get ginormous hugs, tickles, laughter, fun. They still prefer me as their playmate and although some days it seems like a hassle, one day they'll stop asking. So yes I will play baby pet salon for the 10,000th time.

Being a parent is probably the hardest thing I have ever done and will ever do. It is literally ripping your heart out and letting it walk outside amongst the wolves. But no matter how difficult, scary, and frustrating it can be, it is the greatest reward and love I will ever know.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Multi-age, Multi-sensory, What The?!?!

So one of the biggest challenges to home schooling is teaching to multiple age/grade levels. Kids are supposed to learn with their age group right? That's how school does it. 25 six and seven year olds in a classroom for a year......

Actually, it is so much more natural to teach multiple age groups together than it is to pigeon-hole them into a 'grade'. Kids develop and learn in all different ways and at different speeds. By teaching them in a multi-age setting using multi-sensory techniques, you are sure to address all the learning styles of each child, as well as capitalizing on their strengths and strengthening their weaknesses.

If you put multiple ages together, it allows for the more advanced kids to work with peers on their level. It allows for the older and/or more advanced kids to be mentors to the younger kids. There is no better way to learn something than if you have to teach it to someone else! Use multi-sensory techniques to address the needs of all learners. School focuses on visual and auditory learning and expects all kids to conform. By offering learning through multiple modalities, you can use each child's strength to help them overcome their weaknesses.

The basis of learning comes through the senses. Babies and toddlers learn EVERYTHING through their senses (sight, taste, touch, smell, sound). Babies put everything in their mouth right? They explore their environments through dumping, shaking, banging, throwing, eating, smelling.....This doesn't actually change as we get older. If we tap into using the senses to teach, it will be more meaningful to the child. For a child who has a hard time listening to a lecture on the Boston Tea Party, you could bring them to Boston and walk the Freedom Trail. They will get to see where it all happened, touch the buildings, smell the sea air, hear the sounds of the ships in the harbor....I don't know about you but if I were taught this way, I might actually be able to tell you something about the Boston Tea Party.

Here in the Northeast, we have a tremendous amount of resources, cities, museums at our disposal. Many of them are minutes or just a few hours away. This year, whether you home school or not, supplement your child's education with a trip or experience. It will make the learning so much richer!