Monday, November 14, 2011

Finding Your Tribe

The fact that I love doing early learning with Raccoon is not something I talk about much, so finding a community of like-minded mothers is an amazing feeling. I totally recommend creating an account at so you can join their forum. It is an amazing place for resources, ideas, links, and so much more. Being part of a community is so important and encouraging; it's been a long time since I've felt like I've belonged anywhere. So tonight, yeah for technology!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


When I started to read books on early learning, most of them mention the "window of opportunity," or some such thing, with various ages: 0-3, 0-6, even 0-1 before the brain starts pruning!! But on another blog (sorry I can't remember which one, I browse through so many and then the ideas simmer for awhile), the mom wrote something like, "If you take a month or even longer to get organized, your child can still have a wonderful and enriching life." This helps me when I start to feel pressured, like I have to do everything RIGHT NOW in order to take advantage of Raccoon's spongy years. This probably makes me seem like a psycho parent, I can just imagine the comments, "Stop pushing your child, let him just enjoy life." But that's not it at all, he's pushing me! If I don't have something stimulating to offer, he is not a happy camper.

But once again, I'm stepping back, breathing deeply, taking a look at where we're at, and trying to enjoy every minute. Now that I have the list of what's important to me, I plan to use this time to brainstorm about what I'd like his early learning program to include.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's Important

Some of my clearest thinking I do lying in bed with my son, waiting for him to fall asleep, as long as I don't fall asleep as well. Tonight I realized that what matters to me, in the long run, is that I teach Raccoon about the important things. For me, this means:

Physical Excellence

I like lists, and hopefully this one will help keep me focused as I rethink what I'm doing with Raccoon. In my blog reading of late, I've come across the "unschooling" concept. From what I can tell, it seems to be child-led homeschooling where they choose what to do, or not to do, depending on their current interests. I guess this is what I've been doing lately with Raccoon, although to me it just feels like I'm being lazy. He likes to have a movie in much of the time, even if he's not really watching it. His three current favorites are Mulan (he's really into swords and sticks right now), Winnie-the-Pooh, and a live concert collection of different orchestras.

I feel guilty letting him watch so much TV, since I feel like we should be doing something fun and "educational" instead of wasting his brain or - worse - damaging it. But surprisingly, his imaginary and independent play has really blossomed this last week or so that I've relaxed our TV rules. He likes to play out his favorite scenes using his toys (or whatever he can reach in the kitchen cupboards) as props. And although he likes to have me close, I get some me time (hmmm, what's that!?)

I'm not saying that this whole TV thing is going to be our new way of life, but perhaps there is some merit in the "unschooling" way after all. Maybe I'll build some into our new schedule. Three weeks on, one week off. This mother I read about said that they do homeschooling partly so that each family member (including parents!) has time to pursue personal interests. I like how this same mom describes her ideal as a "feast on learning without getting too schooly." What I'm really searching for is something that's good for Raccoon and has some "me" time built in... what a thought.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Raccoon has never liked adhering to a schedule, even as a newborn he was all over the place with sleeping and eating. Recently I've been trying to do create some regular times for learning. Things go well for a week or so, then it stops working. My major discovery awhile ago was to connect our learning with a physical activity. The only problem is that as soon as Raccoon can do something, he completely loses interest in it and rages on to master the next skill. He really liked running for awhile, but now that he's got that down he wants to run up and down hills with some hopping and rolling thrown in. I love that he works at something until he gets it (even though at the beginning he gets really frustrated). But the constant changes in our routine makes it hard for me to be ready with what he wants to do at the exact moment he wants it. So I just gave up trying to do anything, but then he started asking me for our learning activities and I could tell he missed it. His behavior tends to deteriorate, seemingly from boredom, if I don't constantly introduce new things.

I need to figure out how to keep up. For the first week of the cycle, I have to come up with new ideas and materials. Then we have a good week or two before things stop working and I think, here we go again! So for the next few days I'm going to rethink my approach and see if I can figure out a way to anticipate his need for change and a new routine every few weeks. Hopefully this way I'll be able to stay ahead instead of constantly trying to catch up. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Learning at Home

I really liked this article on homeschooling a preschooler and thought it had several useful ideas about how to individualize and make things work without being too heavy. Even though it's targeted at "gifted" I think it could apply to general early learning as well.

I am feeling swamped by life right now. Somehow I need to get ahead again. Raccoon often asks for his numbers or words, but I haven't been ready lately with new material, so I can feel him getting bored. I just can't keep up. I wish I had lots of money to invest in pre-made books and software so I could just spend my time having fun learning with him. Material preparation is definitely the hardest part, I think.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Museum of the Month

I decided to add a monthly field trip to our lives to spice things up a bit now that we spend most of our time at home. October's field trip was to a local reptile museum. At the end, we got to hold a boa constrictor and have our picture taken. Raccoon loved touching the snake.

Today he and I took a mini-field trip to the cementery up the hill from our house. It sounds odd, but today is All Saint's Day, or as we call it locally, "Day of the Dead," so most of the city goes out to visit their deceased relatives. The cementeries have a festive air, with flowers and new paint everywhere. Raccon enjoyed looking at some statues (Jesus as a shepherd holding a baby sheep and a man on his knees praying). We have done some bits on famous statues so I wanted him to see some statues in real life. It was nice to spend all morning outside for a change, and he is now peacefully napping.