Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | February 3, 2010

my baby is growing up

I don’t know if it is that I’m getting better or that honest to goodness sudafed is the best thing ever, but my head feels clear. I don’t have a pounding headache and except for the annoyance of needing a box of kleenex at my side at all times, I’m doing okay. Dinner tonight was the first non-soup meal I’ve had in a few days.

So, in my finally cleared head state, I was reading my twitter updates and found a great opinion piece from the NY Times called Playing to Learn. The article is well worth a read, but the basic premise is that we have to stop teaching to the test and go back to teaching just to teach. Kids learn the most when they are playing. They are naturally sponges and if they are enjoying what they are doing, they learn. When teachers are allowed to enjoy what they are doing and enjoy their kids, they learn. Education has to be fun. Education cannot be mindless memorization.

So far, we’ve gotten really lucky when it comes to the munchkin. I didn’t really have a choice initially when it came to the munchkin being in daycare. I had to go back to work for my own health. Luckily, I had found the best in-home daycare provider in Kansas City. She loves her kids and has educational stuff just around. When we moved here, I had a hard time looking for places that made me as comfortable. The first place I went to smelled like pee and the three year old room teacher rubbed me the wrong way when she wouldn’t allow her kids to speak when they were seated at the table for snack time. Talking to friends and family around the table is an important learning experience to me. I have learned that some schools don’t allow kids to speak in the lunchroom. Hopefully that will never be the case at a school my child goes to. I wasn’t 100% sold on the place I picked, but there were very few programs that did full time daycare for 2 year olds and this seemed like the least of the evils. We’ve been pretty happy there.

One of the nice things about the program that we are in is that they transition kids to age appropriate rooms at various times of the year. I was under the impression that February was one of those times, but apparently it was January. The munchkin would have been moved up because everyone felt that she was definitely ready to be in a 3 year old room. The only problem was, she refused to be potty trained and that was a prerequisite. She did start the transition process (half a day in the other room) but didn’t get to switch classes. That was her moment to decide she was ready to be potty trained. She went into big girl underwear that Saturday and we haven’t looked back. She’s transitioning again and the day we get back from LA she will be in the 3-5 year old Montessori room.

I think we managed to find the lost treasure of schools. They have one room that is a Montessori method room that is a haven unto itself. As the Montessori website explains

It is a revolutionary method of observing and supporting the natural development of children. Montessori educational practice helps children develop creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and time-management skills, to contribute to society and the environment, and to become fulfilled persons in their particular time and place on Earth. The basis of Montessori practice in the classroom is respected individual choice of research and work, and uninterrupted concentration rather than group lessons led by an adult. Group lessons are seldom found in a Montessori classroom, but learning abounds.

This is what education is supposed to be about. Every child moves at their own pace and at 3 she doesn’t need to be “learning” anything, but when they are merely surrounded by opportunity they thrive. Today was her first half day back in Ms. Monica’s room and when we started the bedtime process, she had to show me how to fold her blanket. She’s never been real big on imaginative play and that seems to be finally starting for her as well. I dropped her off this morning after 4 days away from school (weekend + snow day + sick) and as normal she was a bit clingy. When one of her teachers asked if she wanted to go over to Ms. Monica’s room, she was more then ready to see me go.

I was looking into other possible programs for her since “schools” do start having programs here for kids that are 3 by August 31st. But I think I’m just going to keep her where she is.  There are really 2 other options for us around here but the more I think about it, the less they make sense. The first is through a church and my big issues are that a) they have to go to chapel twice a week and b) they have computers and tvs in the 3 year old rooms. The second I haven’t even toured yet, but costs $2200 a year more and we would have to provide lunch as well, whereas now that is covered.  When she is 4 perhaps we’ll revisit it, but I think she is happy now, and what more could a mom ask for?

It’s hard to see my baby grow up, but she’s a pretty amazing little girl.


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