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Posts Tagged ‘Headstart’

I want to preface this with: I understand many women work away from home during their child’s toddler years. Single income living leaves a lot (if not most) families below the poverty level. So you gotta work.

I tried working outside the home when my kids were little. The biggest hurdle I faced was Day Care (which is now synonymous with PreSchool). The cost was counter-productive to start with. We made more money if I simply stayed home and didn’t work. More than that was this: I could not find a Day Care that met my stringent requirements for quality child care until a few weeks before I decided to give it up due to the high cost of quality Day Care. I will be forever grateful to Katy, that last Day Care person, for operating a quality business.

I won’t even touch on the horror stories, but I recommend you “drop in” without announcement to see how things are going. I fired one Day Care provider over what I found going on while I was at work (no, it was not abuse. It was more along the lines of emotional suppression: because my children were not allowed to nap (I’d never get any rest if they did nap), they had to sit in a quiet time for the entire nap period, without any stimulation such as work books. In other words, they were penalized for not needing to sleep.

I tossed out nap time when the oldest was 3 and I discovered that with a nap, she wouldn’t be ready for bed before midnight. She was always up at 5. Without a nap, I could put her to bed by 8 and she’d still rise at 5, but *I* would get some sleep. NO NAP. (To each his own.)

The greatest influence you can have on your child and his preparation for education is during these formative years. Their platform for learning is formed, their personality becomes more concrete, and their need for nurturing is at its highest. Forgive me if I cannot remember who said (Karl Marx?) that if you got a child before the age of 6, you could manipulate them to your will. (Paraphrased, & badly)

Before I had children of my own, I had twins. My dear friend, Janey, lent me her children while she worked. The twins were great learning ground (and their older brother, Justin, who I also watched for a period of time) for my future children. Before I had the twins, I had a summer job babysitting the adorable little girls who lived next door, ages 3 and 5 (or something like that): Tammy & “Beady”. Before those girls, I had talked my way into several summers of helping out at a local Headstart program during my Junior High years.

This was all during the time that I decided I never wanted children of my own. I loved the four year olds. It was the crying babies that got me.

The mother of the twins had a job with Headstart. She gave me the most valuable advice – ever – in raising toddlers. GIVE THEM A CHOICE.

She was appalled at the children who entered the Headstart program who did not know basic colors. “You and I, when we open the cupboards, will ask the kids, ‘Which cup do you want? The blue one or the red one?’ And they learn they have choices and what colors are. The kids who come in to Headstart have never been given those choices. Someone opened the cupboard and chose for them, never announcing what color the cup was.”

Sounds pretty sad, doesn’t it? When my ten year old niece came to live with us, she wanted to make hot chocolate and I told her it was OK. She heated the water (under supervision) but turned to me to ask permission to use a coffee cup in the cupboard. I was floored. “Any cup you want. They belong to all of us. They may get broken, but they *are* ceramic. WHY are you asking?”

“Because I was only allowed to use certain cups…”

Oh, for God’s sake. Unless it is a really special cup, who gives a flying leap? And aren’t YOU going to break it anyway, sometime? What did it cost you? Five, ten, fifteen bucks??

Or you can use all plastic in your house, but since I am opposed to plastic… Hey, don’t judge me. I won’t judge you.

So – the number ONE tool with toddlers is this: Give them a choice. A color. A size. “Do you want orange/cranberry/grape juice in the pink/blue/red/yellow cup?”

Go on “Treasure walks.” I’m pretty sure I invented this. You give your child a bag and you take their hand and you go for a walk around the neighborhood or park – at their pace – and pick up anything that interests them (exception: tossed condoms and needles. Sorry for the reality check there). Leaves, rocks, piece of glass (you might want to pick that up), wire, broken sunglasses, anything that catches your child’s attention. These are “treasures”. My oldest lives near a harbor and often has smelly crab claws in her home. They’re treasures. Get over the smell.

Stackable cups. I bought my set from Discovery Toys. Unless you have the personality to sell, purchase these from someone online. I might know someone who sells them, but most of my friends are Introverts and it’s likely that if they once sold them, they gave up.

Stackable cups teach kids how to measure, build castles in the sand, pour water, and stack items.

Duplos™ is a huge resource. Not only are they colored, but they stick together and you can create things. This is a HUGE pre-math skill.

Puzzles. Any big puzzle. Pre-math skill.

Crawling. Most new parents do not realize this, but crawling is very important. Don’t encourage your child to skip this developmental stage. Crawling is a pre-reading skill.

Pat the Bunny & other books are great, but at this stage they really just want YOU to read to them. In our house, my husband took on this role. He worked odd hours and the only time he felt he could connect to his children was to read them bedtime stories. He was a very literal reader, so he read the stories as written. Our children went to bed with those stories for the first 5-7 years of their lives.

(I am a more imaginative reader and will sometimes skip words to move onto the emotion of the story.)

Just think of things YOU can do to interact with your child, but still be an adult.

Homemade *Playdough – the best recipe can be found on the side of a cornstarch package. So you have to clean it up. You *are* the grown up.

Picking autumn leaves and ironing them between sheets of wax paper.

As i Said in my previous post: YOU are the limit. You need to decide how dirty you want o get (these are kids, for crying out loud: GET DIRTY) and what projects you want to do (COME ON!!! PLAY DOUGH!)

Veterans – please list your favorite Go-To ideas in the comments.

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