Sunday, March 25, 2012

Our New iPad

I recently bought the "new" iPad for my son, our first leap into the world of iThings. I do not want to increase his overall screen time (which is already embarrassingly a lot), so I am hoping to exchange some TV time for app time. There are so many fun and informative apps out there that he can enjoy, many of which share some learning objectives that I already have. My main goal is to keep it as a learning tool and not get addicted myself, which means I have a strict NO APPS FOR ME policy. I have even told Raccoon that it is his iPad, which is sure to lead to some (intentional on my part) no-you-can't-use-it-it's-mine tantrums. We're still working on sharing, obviously. So I am using my toddler to curb my over-indulgences. Hmmmmm.....

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Museum of the Month

Raccoon and I are in Maine right now, and we enjoyed a visit to the Children's Museum in Bangor today. The highlight was the second floor: a tractor trailer truck with loud buttons to push, a mini-restaurant and kitchen, a ship with a cargo conveyor belt, a hammock, a mini-farm, a sailboat, and much more. Raccoon did well, although it was definitely too much to handle all at once. I had to drag him kicking and screaming out of the waterway exhibit when it was time to go. Poor little man. But we may go back just to visit his favorite exhibits. It was more like a giant play place than a museum, although there was some sneaky learning going on.

And I almost forgot! We had an unexpected overnight in Washington, D.C. courtesy of American Airlines, so we also got to visit the National Aquarium (highlight: an albino crocodile and some baby sharks). We walked through about 10 blocks of downtown and saw the White House from afar, so all in all, this has been quite the month for museums, despite all of the travelling.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wondering Wednesday - Age-Appropriate Expectations

I have random mommy-guilt attacks. My latest has been, "Maybe I'm expecting too much from Raccoon. Maybe I'm being too hard on him." I know I'm supposed to keep in mind what is age-appropriate, but his development is often all over the place (also called asynchronous), so how do I decide what is "reasonable?"

I like the PBS milestones because they're more holistic than many other sites, and go beyond the baby years. Knowing what a general toddler is working on helps me figure out where Raccoon needs some help, where he's doing fine, and what might be next. Keeping my expectations reasonable for his asynchronous development is a challenge, to say the least. What behavior do I let slide? What should we work on?

I have two rules that pretty much cover most situations:
*Listen and obey
*Be nice

When I read the PBS list, I feel like he doesn't sing or scribble enough. I also know that I jump in too quickly to help him, mostly to prevent meltdowns. When I back off, my perfectionism gets in the way. Note to self: Let him fail more. I shudder even writing that, because I can already hear his ear-piercing wails when the things he's trying to do don't turn out the way he wants the first time.

A paragraph about play, "...enjoy playing alongside other children, but usually keep to themselves. When conflicts arise, adults need to step in to prevent aggression and teach appropriate behaviors. Children this age are beginning to label feelings that they recognize in themselves and others. Controlling emotions is still difficult, however, so frustration may trigger emotional meltdowns. Comfort objects like blankets or teddy bears help (them) cope with new situations or strong emotions."

Good to know.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tricky Tuesday - Perfectionism

My son is a toddler, but I suspect he was born a perfectionist. I have trouble finding the right level of challenge for him. If it's too easy, he's not interested, but if it's too hard (or sometimes what I think is just right) he gets easily frustrated and gives up. If I offer something challenging and he cannot do it right the first time, he has a big meltdown. I try to model messing up and trying again, but sometimes I forget and do it right the first time. He refuses to listen to more than one or two directions; perhaps that is a developmental milestone he hasn't reached yet. He can do things with multiple steps, but he seems to learn best just by watching, then he likes to do it on his own without any help from me. It feels heartless, but if he's freaking out about not being able to do something, it's better if I leave the room. Later when he's calm again, I explain to him that it's okay to ask for help, and that everyone has to practice different things.

Lately, he's told me, "Keep trying, Mama, you can do it!" which makes my heart glow. He also said the other day, "I in trouble Mama, I need help."  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Handy List for Parents

Some ideas I liked from a parenting book by James Alvino (I have had these notes lying around since December. I found them yesterday when I was looking through my journals for anecdotes about Raccoon.)

The Social & Emotional Needs of Children
1) to be loved (note from me: I like the Five Love Languages of Children for more on this topic)
2) to be accepted
3) to fit in
4) to feel worthwhile
5) to have a purpose
6) to have an identity of their own

This list spoke to me a lot. I'm still thinking about what this looks like for Raccoon.

Be careful not to squelch creativity trying to get their thinking or playing to conform to conventions.

Responsibility shows respect. Match the child with age/developmentally appropriate chores that contribute to the household.

Don't expect your son or daughter to do his or her best all the time. (I mess up here a lot. One good day and I begin to expect more.)

Use descriptive praise.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Well-Rounded or Specialization

There is a little voice in my brain telling me that I may need to remember this for Raccoon later:

"I think formal school puts a lot of emphasis on being “well-rounded” but the “real world” doesn’t necessarily demand that," a comment from Trish on this blog post. Her main idea is to do the essential things the student doesn't like in the context of the things the student does like, as the means to a rewarding end.

Another mom said, "I also find that age matters for us. Younger ages: it seemed more important to me to provide more balance... Now in our 5th year homeschooling, we're specializing more."

For Raccoon right now, the biggest piece of our time pie is physical activity, into which I incorporate other learning whenever I can in a fun and brief way. I have considered the homeschooling option, depending on where he's at in a few years. Right now, anything structured drives us both crazy (classes at Gymboree and getting to church on time are pretty much all we've tried), but it's early yet.