The Buzz About "FiveHive"

Have you discovered "FiveHive"? It's the brainchild of Yvonne Adele (aka Ms Megabyte) and is a lovely "collection of useful fives for modern parents" It's full of tips and ideas grouped together in fives - ie. "5 Ways to Wear Camel" or "5 ways to Handle Swearing Kids".

I think it's a super-great idea and it has fantastic contributors like the very clever Pip Lincolne (from Meet Me at Mikes) as well as one of my favourite Australian Parenting Experts - Michael Grose.

I have a post up there at the moment called " 5 ways to Have Fun (and Learn) with a Jar of Buttons" If you'd like to check it out (as well as some of the other great contributions) you can click here

Making A Recipe Book

Em has always loved to help in the kitchen and lately she has felt confident enough to try recipes on her own. I thought it would be nice for her to make a recipe book where she could write down the recipes she enjoys. I was wanting a recipe book for myself too - to hold all those delicious dishes that take my fancy in the hundreds of food magazines I buy. I thought it would be a nice idea to sit down and make our books together.

I collected up a couple of exercise books, some scissors, glue and some catalogues and food magazines.

We looked through the magazines together, cutting out pictures of food and ingredients we liked and then organised them to cover the books.

I needed to show Em how to think about where to put the pictures once they were cut out, but she soon got the hang of it. She actually took off the pictures we'd laid out together and started again on her own.

Here's the finished products:

To protect our books, we covered them in clear contact.

This was a great activity because it:

  • Worked on fine motor skills and eye-hand co-ordination
  • Helped with spatial awareness
  • Built on creative expression
  • Enabled Em to practice her planning skills
  • Gave us a lovely opportunity to spend some quality time together, sharing something we both enjoy.

Ed wanted to have a go too, but he didn't see his book through to the end. As with most 4 year olds, he was just happy to sit alongside us cutting and gluing, exploring and experimenting until he had had enough. Unlike his 7 year old sister who was quite focused on her outcome, Ed was more interested in the process.

It's so important to not discount the experience of this type of activity for younger children, just because a tangible outcome isn't produced. It was still a valuable experience for him as he:
  • Spent time with his Mum and Sister
  • Practiced gluing and cutting
  • Talked about all the things he saw in the magazines
  • Discussed what he likes and doesn't like
  • Shared his knowledge and learnt more about food groups and nutrition.
It's great how one activity can have such wonderful benefits for 2 children at completely different stages of development.

What's a Doctor to do?

Sure, it's great fun to dress up as a doctor, put once the coat's been put on and the stethoscope's in place, the Doctor needs something to do!

The obvious thing is to see some patients, but that can't be done in the middle of a lounge room - not very professional at all!!

Dr Emily decided to put together her own surgery (with a bit of help from me of course!)

We got an old phone to make appointments, an upside down biscuit tray to use as the keyboard (when you push down on it, it makes crunchy, buttony sounds like a real keyboard) and an ice cream container as the computer screen.

Then we made a waiting room complete with magazines for the furry patients waiting to see the doctor.

Then we filled her doctor's bag with band aids, bandages, empty medicine bottles, medicine cups and medicine syringes.

When she was finished, there was not an ill soft toy in sight!

Separation Anxiety (Part 1, I'm sure!)

When you're a teacher and dealing with a poor little soul who is having trouble being away from Mum, it can be very difficult. Lately I'm finding, when you have a poor little soul who doesn't want to go to Kindergarten and you ARE the mum, it's even tougher still!!

Such is life with Ed at the moment. He just simply DOES NOT want to go to Kindergarten. He wants to stay home. He wants to be with me. Home is much more fun ....

And so, 3 times a week, I battle to get him there.

I've learned a lot about 'Separation Anxiety' over the years, but never has my learning curve been as steep as it is right now, as I sit on the other side.

So, what am I doing about it? A few things actually ..

1. Talking constantly to his teacher.

She needs to know what's going on at home so she can deal with upset times at Kinder properly and I need to know what's going on at Kinder so I can follow through at home too. It's important that Ed is getting a consistent message from both of us and that message is - "I know you're sad, but you have to go to Kinder".

2. Making sure he has plenty of rest.

He is miserable when he's tired so I'm making sure that on days when we're not traipsing off to Kindergarten, he can have some home time and get an afternoon nap.

3. Talking it up.

We're talking about Kinder a lot. Not in those times when I'm trying to get him there, these are times when I say "We've talked about this, you have to go". No, the discussions are happening when he's not emotional (and I'm not feeling beside-myself!). We talk about how all 4 year olds have to go to Kindergarten and that he has to find a way to make it a nice place to be. We talk about how great his teachers are and the fun things he gets to do there. We also go through some strategies that can help him to not feel so sad when he's there. Things like finding a new thing to do, finding a teacher for a cuddle and getting his teddy out of his bag. I also reassure him that if he gets really, really upset, I'm not too far away. These talks help to change his outlook and also give him a chance to voice his feelings and problems without being overly-emotional.

4. Encouraging friends.

His friendship with one other little boy is the only thing that gets us there some days. I'm making sure I help this friendship along as much as possible while also trying to encourage new friends.

5. Sending the bear along.

Fortunately, Ed's teacher has no problem with him bringing good old Yarji along with him and this has really helped. When you're young, a friendly, familiar face goes along way but Yarji's familiar smell and touch are hugely reassuring too.

6. Giving him something to look forward to.

I think all human beings need something to look forward to, particularly when they're faced with something they don't really want to do. Kids are no exception, so I try to have something nice for him when I pick him up - a little treat, a surprise, a trip to the park. I also try to plan nice things for his days at home. That way, we can focus on those nice, positive things instead of constantly talking about Kinder.

7. Sometimes letting him stay home.

I feel naughty even typing this. In my pre-children teaching days, I NEVER would have allowed this. You see, it teaches kids that sometimes they don't have to go, that it's not really that important and I have to agree, letting him stay home does send a bit of a mixed message. But, I only let him stay home when he seems really, really tired and he always has to go to bed and have a sleep when he's not going to go. To be honest, at this stage, I think getting enough sleep is more important and I know he copes better when he's not exhausted.

We've got 3 long terms ahead of us and I can only hope he makes some headway with his issues. I can't change my little man (and I wouldn't for the world). I have to accept him for the wonderful little love he is and try and give him the tools he needs to deal with what life throws at him. After all, he's got 5 days of school to cope with next year. I hope he stops needing so much sleep by then .......

Another Play Moment

A lot of play at our house involves caring lately. I think it's lovely. Children should be encouraged to model care and empathy. It builds the parts of our brains that deal with these emotions, making us more caring and sharing as adults.

I stumbled across his little play scene Ed had set up the other day.

Apparently it was rest time for the Lightning McQueen brigade and the little blanket was keeping them 'cosy'. Aaaawwwwwwwwww!

A Happy Compromise

One corner of my lounge room looks like this at the moment.

Ok, so it's not going to get my house into an issue of "Home Beautiful" any time soon, but this little space is really working for us.

As I've mentioned before, Em likes to set up her own play a lot at the moment. She likes to move when the mood strikes her and it helps to have resources and toys at her disposal.

Having furniture, accessories, doll's and animals accessible like this means she can play when it suits her and if she wants to leave things a little set-up and come back later, she can take up exactly where she left off without too much hassle. And in the meantime, I'm not left looking at a huge amount of mess which makes me a bit happy too!