Wordful Wednesday: First day of Home Preschool

My sassy independent smart little Monk is now 2 and a half. Ok, she’s 2 years old and 9 months. Which is just so crazy to me.

But being that she’s under 3 she isn’t old enough for any of the preschool programs in our area and we don’t want to put her in daycare just for the sake of having her out of the house for a while (not that we could afford that anyways).

So after hearing from a couple other mamas that were starting homeschooling or had homeschooled before I decided to start a little bit of Montessori-esque schooling with Cedella at home.

First things first was deciding when and how to approach things. Doing some in depth googling facebooking pinteresting research on the subject I came to the understanding that there really isn’t any such thing as a set curriculum for almost three year olds. Which was a relief.

And even more encouraging? After reading a lot of Montessori-based books and sites I realized I’ve been doing most of what is encouraged already.

We read books at least twice a day. I talk to both children constantly and explain what I’m doing. We did sign language with Cedella from 6 months on and I’ve already begun with Izzie. We encourage her to do things on her own and to ask for help when needed. She can go to the bathroom by herself, wash hands and brush teeth alone, picks her own clothes and can dress (the bottom half anyways) and put on shoes by herself. And we try to include her in the kitchen as much as possible. All things touched on in a Montessori program.

And while I always sang the alphabet song and pointed out letters and numbers to her, I owe a serious debt to Super Why and Sesame Street for teaching my kid all of her upper and lower case ABC’s and up to the number 20. She knows all her colors and most of her shapes too, though there are lots of times when she confuses one for another or just forgets all together. So looks like she needs a bit more work in those areas.

More than anything I feel like two things she would really benefit from right now is more of a structured schedule and more socialization. So in conjunction with “school” at home two mornings a week we’d add some at least one outdoor ‘class’ a week and a couple other classes or playgroups.

So last Tuesday we started our first official day of school. And the best part about homeschool? You can go in your pajamas.

Following the Montessori ideal of taking your cues and leads from what the child expresses interest in, I thought cutting and gluing would be a fun way to introduce both scissors (which she is hugely interested in but I haven’t allowed her to work with before) and glue (which she LOVES).

I busted out some old magazines in order to find pictures to cut out and glue and make collages.

She had such a great time doing her first collage that I improvised a second activity adding another level of learning.

We scoured the magazines for pictures of things that were blue. And here’s her blue collage.

Complete with a picture of the First Lady wearing a blue dress (to which Cedella said “Mrs. Bama is so pretty mommy and she’s wearing blue” Yes. Mrs. Bama. There may not have been an O there but I’m proud all the same.

And even Izzie got involved. Though in fairness she really just wanted to know what the magazines tasted like.

Though she hasn’t quite mastered scissors she did really well gluing and finding blue objects. Bottom line though? It was just so neat to watch her learn and try new things.

For our outdoor activity for the week we went on a hike with our local Moms group and BFFs Anna & Leslie.

In fact, Leslie and I had our 2 year anniversary (we met on a moms group hike when the girls were still tiny and in our baby carriers on our chests) and despite the fact that she’s about to have a baby on my birthday (only three short weeks of shopping time left for those that wanted to get me something special) she looked glowing and lovely as ever :) Love you lady!!

And on a whim, after dancing with her Teta and her Aunt Sabah, we signed her up for a pre-ballet class called Tiny Dancers. Sadly we were five minutes late, and the class had started and she was being super shy. Instead of going into the studio she stayed in the doorway of the lobby with me and the other parents for the entire class. And then cried at the end because she “didn’t get to dance”.

This is her all bummed leaving the studio. I call this photo “Sad Ballerina”. But seriously how cute is her leotard/leg warmer/Converse/sock bun combo? Love this kid.

So far I’m super encouraged by the idea that everything we do, every interaction, every outing, every silly drawing or picture, is adding to her education and independence. She really is such a quick learner and a remarkably bright child. Can’t wait to share more about this journey as we go.

Thanks to Mollie, Jen and Diana for the links and information and encouragement!

How do you encourage education in your home, whether it be reading or art or science? Any suggestions for how to add more independent activities she can do on her own?

Happy WW!! Hope the rest of your week is lovely 😉

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: The Olympics

This year’s Summer Olympic Games have been truly an event in our household. There’s something so incredibly riveting about the games, and honestly if we’re at home the TV is on NBC (though this is honestly the first time in years that I’ve wished we had cable so we could watch more events live).

The drama of the competition. The inspiration of all the individual stories. The perseverance and tenacity of all of these athletes at the peak of their form trying to bring honor and glory to their country. What’s not to love?

To me the Olympic are such a brilliant way to learn about different countries and cultures. And this year’s Opening Ceremonies were a perfect example.
How incredibly English were they? Very.

In honor of the games we had some delicious diner food from a favorite local spot, appropriately named Olympic Broil.

Cedella stayed up for the entire program, even every second of the Parade of Nations. The P of N is my absolute favorite part of the Opening Ceremony. I love seeing all the different team uniforms and costumes. How incredible for some of these tiny nations to send a delegation to compete with the giants of the world?

I really wanted her to see the delegation from Lebanon since we were discussing that her Jiddo and Teta were going there. Sadly her patience was wearing thin and the Lebanese athletes were only on the screen for 5.2 seconds. Boo. Oh well, maybe she’ll appreciate it in another 4 years.

As a learning tool I think the Olympics ultimately serve as a way to understand competition, sportsmanship, teamwork and cooperation. While watching events like Gymnastics or Diving or Synchronized Swimming I talk with Ella about how hard these athletes work, what a team is, how beautiful and special each event is.

So far she loves Gymnasts and Diving. She keeps trying to do somersaults off of the furniture, hopefully that stops when the games are over. And when she sees the dives she smiles and says “Yay!” or “Good job!” every time someone splashes into the water. It’s adorable.

And someone is a big fan of the “fast man” Usain Bolt. Here’s my girl Bolting.

The other day we decided to make an Olympic Rings painting a la Toddler Approved’s 6 Simple Activities for Celebrating the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

The invitation was simple. Paints in 5 Olympic colors (with brown because we didn’t have black) on a paper plate. Popsicle sticks. Toilet paper rolls. Paper.

She really enjoyed using the rolls at first.

But this child is tactile by nature.

She was born to finger paint.

Or whole body paint as the case may be.

The painting turned out great and will hang until the Games are over, like our very own Olympic flag.

My little Olympic Torch.

We are going to work on a few more projects this weekend and I may even get a bit more ambitious and plan a mini-Games for our friends coming to visit us Friday night, with medals and everything! What in the world did we do to be creative before Pinterest?

Why do the Olympics matter to your family? How did you celebrate the Olympics with your kids? Have any toddler activities to share?

Thanks for reading and have a happy W Wednesday!!