Category: Parenting

Hobbies And Parenting

I lost myself a bit when I had a kid. Reading a “for me” book was the only hobby I managed when she was a baby (i.e. without much opinion of content). I read text books, historical analysis, and crime/mystery novels out loud while I held her. But now ‘reading’ means her books, and sitting quietly to read something on my own … more stress than it’s worth.

About two years ago we got few new hires at work, and my boss sent out a quick intro for everyone. He has known me for a long time, so included a list of things that … yeah, I used to do all of those. It was, frankly, a depressing read. I decided to pick one thing I used to enjoy and start doing it again. To my surprise, the tiny person wanted to do it with me.

Well, she wants to be with me all the time so the wanting wasn’t really surprising. But she actually does my hobbies too – like pays attention when I show her what to do, respects the equipment and uses it properly, accepts there are some things she’s not old enough to use yet, and enjoys doing the projects. I was really worried the first time she wanted to make jewelry with me, and yeah she made a big mess with the beads. But she also re-sorted the beads back into their containers and was super proud of the bracelet she made. She’s got her own box of beads that is sorted her way,  and she’ll ask me if she can have some of something from one of my boxes. My beads aren’t a haphazard mess, my tools are where they belong, and she leaves the not-for-Anya tools alone.

Now she’s got a sewing machine and sews while I sew. She’s got paints and stamps and scissors — which isn’t really my thing but she’ll paint while I sew or paint en plein air while I garden. She’s getting interested in gardening beyond picking veggies, so this year she’ll be starting her own little garden. She cooks with me – although she’s not old enough to use a sharp knife or handle hot pans, she gets ingredients / chops softer things with a dinner knife / measures and mixes ingredients. And has a lot of fun “thieving” little veggie bits from the cutting board as I cook.

Hiking and biking aren’t as aerobic with a tiny person (unless you’ve got that bike that bolts onto the back of your bike and lets the kid peddle too. That thing looks awesome), but it’s more exercise than sitting at home. Running on paved trails – she doesn’t have the endurance I do, but she can do about a mile and a half at a pace that’s pushing it for me.

Hobbies might be a little different when done with a tiny person, but when someone says I have a hobby homestead, enjoy crocheting, sewing, and bicycling … I don’t feel like they’re talking about five years ago me anymore.

Parenting Books

When my girl was < 1 year, I bought a LOT of parenting books because the advertising promised me some sleep. Quickly formed a hypothesis that a large percentage of parenting book sales are completely desperate and sleep deprived moms for whom the content isn’t as important as the fact they’re trying SOMETHING. Because as a how-to guide? Absolute useless. Which makes sense since human being aren’t automatons, thus it’s pretty much impossible to predict the result of any set of inputs.

I haven’t found the toddler-themed books to be any better. “I hear that you are angry because I won’t let you go outside without a coat when it is 3 degrees” or the toddlereze version “Bean angry, don’t want coat” never once had my kid perk up and say “I’m glad you understand my frustration here. Now that you validate my point of view, sure I’ll do what you’ve asked of me”. My daughter seems to get angrier — “ok, you know I want ice cream for breakfast so why aren’t you doing it?!?”.

Choices are completely ineffective for us too. Presented two equally awesome choices (do you want to go to the zoo or the aquarium), sure she’ll pick one. Otherwise she’ll make up a third option that she does like. Or go with “C: None of the above”. Which, stepping outside of the immediate situation … props to a 3 year old kid for the thought process. But it certainly didn’t help me navigate the day.

That being said, I did like “Time-Out for Parents” (ISBN-13 978-0971030930) which didn’t so much focus on how to parent a child but asking yourself why you get stressed out over some scenarios (i.e. Why do I care if she goes without a coat when it’s 45 degrees outside? No clue, let it go and bring a jacket in case she gets cold. Why do I care when it’s 3 degrees? Health and safety, wear the coat!) and how to re-center yourself now that you’ve got massive amount of conflict in your life.

Interviewing Preschools

Anya really wants to go to preschool. And, yeah, I know 99% of her desire is “Daniel Tiger goes to preschool, and I love Daniel Tiger. Ergo, I love preschool”. But learning to be around other people is one skill she cannot learn at home. So we’ve begun interviewing different preschools in the area.

Philosophical:
What is educational philosophy? How is learning encouraged?
What is the learning style (indirect learning, academic based, blended?)
If academics (reading, maths, etc) are introduced, how so and at what ages? Letters and numbers should be introduced by her age. Especially the spelling of her name.
How are parents involved in the school? Are parents encouraged to volunteer in the classroom? For special events? Are there service requirements or opportunities (and if requirements, what happens if parents are unable to meet requirements)?
Is there more focus on group or individual learning? You will find the tendency is toward group learning.
How is discipline handled? What is the policy for children who cause injury to others (biting, etc)? How are repeat offenders addressed?
How are problems resolved between students (kids work it out themselves, class meeting to discuss, teacher intervention)?
How is growth measured and reported? With what frequency are parents informed of these results?
What is the educational success criterion (i.e. what should we expect kids learn in each level)?

Staff:
Are teachers credentialed? BS/MS? Child Development Associate? Early Childhood Development degree required and should be what you look. Don’t go for anything beyond early elementary because they are not taught how to effectively work/deal with children of this age group.
Is continuing education required or encouraged? Like all professionals, it should be.
How many staff are trained in first aid? CPR certified? Additional medical training?
What is the turnover rate for teachers?

Classes:
What is the class size (student:teacher ratio and child:adult ratio)? Check out your state minimum requirements Ohio’s requirements follow www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/file.as…
Are classes age-specific or mixed?
How is the day structured? What portion of the day is free play?
Is there a fixed schedule (if so, is a copy available)?
What indoor physical play facilities are available?
What outdoor physical play facilities are available?
Snacks – Are snacks provided by the parents or school? What dietary principals are followed? What accommodations made for special diets (vegetarian in our case, but in general too)?
Are there supplemental activities (trips)? If so, frequency & examples.
Are there outside parties coming into the classroom for supplemental activities? If so, frequency & examples.

Policy:
Is enrollment rolling or fixed date? If fixed, what is the deadline.
What is the process for late arrival or pickups or early pickups?
Are any allergens prohibited in the school?
What is the dress code?

Other:
What can we do to prepare Anya for preschool?
Can we schedule a time to observe a class?

Class Observation:
Are the teachers getting down to the children’s level to talk with them or yelling across the playground?
Are the rooms organized and show children’s recent artwork? recent work?
Are there areas to play inside and outside?
Are there different activity stations in the classrooms? Are children interested in and using the stations? Ask if the stations varied throughout the year or are they static?
What is the general feel of the place? Ideally observe a full class day. If that is impossible, observe toward the end of class as that is when most classroom problems occur.) Are the students happy and busily engaged?