“When kids play they remember, they may not be aware that they are learning, but they sure are aware that they are having fun.”
I was inspired by my sister yesterday. (It’s not unusual, I’m frequently inspired by her!) She’s home-schooling my five-year-old niece as well as working part-time and mothering a younger son! She has always been extremely organized, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw a timetable of children’s activities on her kitchen bulletin-board. She schedules physical activity time, unstructured play-time, structured learning time, and off-campus lessons into her days with the kids, so that all bases are covered.
I thought of her schedule yesterday when I woke up to a wet and grey morning and was faced with the prospect of surviving a full day indoors with two sick children. At 8:00 am, when both girls are usually in top-form, they were already melting down into a pool of discomfort. What on earth were we going to do for the next nine hours?
When I was a teacher, I’d write an agenda on the board each day and call it, ‘The Shape of the Day.’ That’s exactly what our day needed: some shape!
After breakfast, I brought out the massive box of play-doh and assorted plastic accessories. Pip and I taught Fig a few colours and shapes and we showed her how to roll the play-doh into a long snake.
Pip opened up a play-doh restaurant and prepared yellow and black spaghetti for us, then she made me a big black heart and said, “Here Mama, this is a big heart for all of your love.” (I didn’t let Pip’s colour choice alarm me.)
The girls were happily occupied for almost an hour, and I enjoyed being their full-time facilitator. Cleaning-up was great because Fig spotted the feather-duster and Pip wanted to use the broom, so there was some impromptu house-cleaning that took at least thirty minutes!
Next we got moving. I put Peter Gabriel on the stereo, (he is one of Pip’s favourites,) got the ‘musical instrument basket’ out, and we danced for about fifteen minutes. The girls then paraded around the house with their drums while I cooked lunch.
After lunch it was reading time. The three of us cuddled on the couch and read a few books, then it was time for Fig’s nap.
Yay! It was HALF-TIME , and everyone was in great spirits.
I won’t bore you with our afternoon activities, but I will say that structuring the day worked brilliantly. I set aside housework, phone-calls and errands to create a completely child-centered day, and on THIS particular day, it was a wise choice.
It did feel a little bit like my days in the classroom, however, as a teacher, you dismiss your kids at 3:00 and have time to catch up on marking, prepping, making phone-calls, putting up displays and organizing the classroom! Big difference.
It’s all one big balancing act, isn’t it?