Playful, Natural, Nourishing

I originally typed this letter up to share with the families in my play school, but thought that I would post my reflections here as well.

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Since you are entrusting me with a piece of your week and your child’s development, I wanted to take a moment to share my heart with you.

My husband and I have talked at length about what we want to do to help our children learn and grow. We keep coming back to the same three words. 

Playful. 

Natural.

Nourishing. 

Playful. Children learn through play. It’s their most important work. We intend to allow our children time to play throughout their childhood. 

Natural. We feel that we are grounded by nature and seasons. Fresh air is good for the soul. Following a child’s natural strengths is one of the greatest gifts we can offer. 

Nourishing. Our bodies, souls and minds need consistent and constant nourishing. Our food is eaten with intention around our family table. We believe that literature and family stories should mindfully fill our days. 

As a mom, my heart is telling me to lean into the movement of embracing the simplicity of childhood. To us, this means that we are very intentional about what enters our home, including toys and learning resources. We minimize screen time and try to fill our media intake with people that inspire and encourage us. We say no to opportunities and experiences daily in order to keep simplicity in our lives. 

This all being said, we do believe in intentionally teaching children. Our daughter’s gift is language. She devours books, is an adventurous talker and is curious about how letters and words work. It’s just her gift. And, as I mentioned, following our childrens’ lead on their natural gifts is one of our home pillars. 

But want to hear the truth? I haven’t fully embraced the letter component part of this gift to the capacity that I could yet. I love researching and find learning about learning methodology fascinating. We tend to lean towards Charlotte Mason and Waldorf style with a strong dose of child led learning. Charlotte Mason and Rudolf Steiner felt very strongly about not starting academics and formal learning until the child is at least six. Their reasoning is strong and in general, I think there are many years for teaching more formally as the child’s brain develops and matures. I’ve mulled over this, pondered how these thoughts mix with my formal teacher training, pushed myself to think about my own childhood education and came up with this word. 

Trust. 

I am choosing to trust my instincts. While I don’t plan to do any formal schooling for a few more years, we do intend to plan out or days a bit in the fall. We will be using The Peaceful Preschool as a very loose guide to our days. I am so thankful for the community that this curriculum has created as well as the Wild+Free community for their guidance. I will gently introduce the letters of the alphabet, week by week, with weeks crossed out for review and child led interests. We will be picking and choosing what activities we do from this beautiful curriculum, saving the more advanced and formal lessons for the next couple years. 

I also trusted my instincts on something else that begins in the fall. I have started Roots+Wings Playschool, a cooperative learning group that is designed for toddler and preschool families. It is organized like a mom and me call and is centered around literacy and sensory rich experiences. My intention is to homeschool our children, but this once a week, plus weekly field trip, is a great balance to this style of educating. It gives us a chance to learn alongside other families and connects us to new experiences. 

Not to mention it’s playful, natural and nourishing. 

Wherever you are on this parenting journey, I encourage you to trust yourself.  Be your child’s roots and wings and lean into the beautiful community of people around you. And since your reading this, please know that I am beyond grateful to have you in my community. Truly, thank you. 

Fall Rhythm

If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I am all about rhythm. I am also all about summer, which always throws off rhythm because of all the extras that we do. So as much as I am an “endless summer type of person, I am also eager to fall into our fall flow this month.

A few little tidbits about our fall rhythm:

  • A friend and I run a Mom and Me style co-op, Roots+Wings Playschool 2 days a week
  • I will work 1 half day a week from home and an hour or so here and there
  • We will be loosely following The Peaceful Preschool which I describe more here.

~7:00 Morning Rhythm

Lyd and I often get a little outdoor time with the dogs before breakfast, even if it is just for ten minutes

Breakfast- We eat a variation of eggs for breakfast everyday.

We read books and do a very gentle morning time during breakfast if my husband isn’t home or decides to start working early.

I make our daily smoothie while I make breakfast so that it is ready to go whenever people want to drink it.

Habits- wash hands, brush teeth

Free play outside

~9:30 Morning Adventure

This is the time in our day that is a bit more structured. 

Mondays- Library Outing (and sometime the park, hike and coffee shop)

Tuesdays- “Mom Mom” time. Lydia spends time with my mom while I work.

Wednesdays- Roots+Wings Playschool

Thursdays- Home Day or Nature Outing

Fridays- Playdate or Roots+Wings Field Trip

~ 12:00 Lunch, Nap

After our outing, we come back for lunch. Lunchtime is when we chat and read our library books. Then, its right to nap time.

~ 2:30 Afternoon Rhythm

We very rarely leave the house after nap time. I hold this time close to my heart. We free play,  usually outside, often with some invitations to play based on our theme. This is when we will be doing most of the Peaceful Preschool activities.  We also do most of our chores during this time. Some Wednesdays we plan to do a cousin playdate.

~4:30 Food Prep, Relax Time, Dinner

By this time, Lyd has had a full two or so hours of play. I prep dinner, often with a sous chef. If she is exhausted and I am not able to sit and read with her at this time, I allow her to watch something on my computer while I prep dinner. (Her first 18 months we allowed very very little media time. She now watches about 2.5 hours a week, usually 2-3 times a week for about 30 minutes.)

Dinner. One of my favorite times a day. We chat, we eat, we have a glass of wine. We laugh at the fact that we thought we would finish the glass of wine without chasing our daughter around the house…

~6:00 Family Play, Bedtime Routine

After dinner, we tag team cleaning up. Then, weather permitting, head outside. We try to get the extra wiggles out at this time and often end with swinging. Then its bath, books, and bed.

 

Roaring Through The Week

Dinosaurs have been a major interest for our year old. In fact, she had a loose dinosaur theme to her birthday last week.

It all started when this minimal media child was allowed to watch a movie. After looking through netflix my husband and I decided that we would allow her to watch Land Before Time(the new one). Well, let’s just say she loved it and has been dinosaur crazed ever since.

I often done little play-based themes for our weeks in the past but now that she is older, these themed weeks are getting more and more fun, especially when it totally child-interest driven. Below is a photo summary of our activities.

(Dinosaur land, or as my daughter calls it “The Great Valley”)

(We created this simple dinosaur playspace for her for her birthday. Take a short, but large planter. Pop holes in the bottom. Add some rocks for terrain. Put in some branches and leaves. It has given her hours of fantasy play already.)(Sometimes dinosaurs need a bath… )(….or to go “swimming in the pool”)(Then the play may evolve into having a dinosaur tea party)(Which may turn into a dinosaur song and dance show. We like the 5 Little Dinosaur one from here and the major favorite here(We did a simple track painting)

(Melissa and Doug’s DInosaur puzzle is great. We use these puzzles more as play sets than puzzles after the first week. I usually just let the play evolve with puzzle pieces. We also like puzzle to book matching like this photo)

(Melissa & Doug rocks the dinosaur materials… their stamp set is great. This large stamp pad is a game changer!)

(Our theme book library. I do this little set up for all of our book themes. She gets so excited when she walks out to find a new theme set up…. every couple week. This fall, it will change ever 1-2 weeks through as we work our way through The Peaceful Preschool with Roots+Wings Playschool! Fun!)

(This volcano science experiment is perfect for toddler and preschoolers. Simply hollow out an apple, let them pour some baking soda in it. Then, let them poor some vinegar in. It’s short, everyday materials and super engaging for little learners.)

Since I don’t see this interest ceasing anytime soon.. hook me up with your favorite imaginary, sensory and play-based dinosaur ideas please!

 

 

Happy 2nd Birthday, Lydia Grace

“A love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humour” — Charlotte Mason, Volume 1

On the week of your second birthday, I was brought to tears as you splashed around the lake. You see, you have taught me to cherish these little moments.

 

The delight that you find with each splash, the fascination of the leaves floating away, the gritty sensation of the mud sand in your hands and the pure satisfaction of a cold slice of watermelon on a summer day….

You get life.

You get that the simple pleasures of spending time with family in nature is what it is all about.

So I pray that you will always remember these little adventures, if not the actual memories, than the feeling of comfort and happiness that being out in the sunshine made you feel.

And I pray that if you ever get lost in life, remember that nature is your home. I am your home. And we both are here for you.

Happy second birthday, sweet Lydia Grace.


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