I recently read this post on Facebook that I found inspirational. It’s lengthy, but a highly recommended read. If you’re active on Facebook, I highly recommend the Facebook group Infant/Toddler Montessori at Home During School Closure, a great place to connect with other families of toddlers for support, ideas and inspiration.
Thanks to Chris Trostel for her beautiful words.. #dorealthings
Unprecedented times: take what you need from this and relax and enjoy –
Do real things.
My advice: Do not try to recreate the classroom at home.
School is a laboratory where certain kinds of real things happen. It is set up in a very particular way with very particular participants designed for particular outcomes. It is unique, special, rather lovely when done well and perhaps impossible to replicate.
The home laboratory is something entirely unique and special and rather lovely in it’s own right – and impossible to replicate anywhere else. Different kinds of real things are done at home. Value and appreciate the opportunity to be home and do some real things.
Children who do real things – in collaboration with others – learn real skills and grow up to be independent humans who know how to cooperate and collaborate and contribute to society.
Certainly, home provides an opportunity to build on the school experience – and there are thousands of websites and ideas out there for doing so – but now is a special a time where family experiences can be valued and appreciated in an entirely expansive and beautiful way.
Because parents and children have unexpected time together and there is no need or call to rush anywhere, we can embrace this once in a lifetime event and be together; and, for once, there is enough time. You may ask,
Enough time for what? Well there is enough time …
To work together
Spring clean! There are many practical life activities to learn and do: making beds, washing and folding laundry (teach children how to use the washing machine and dish washer), plan dinner and breakfast menus, dust, learn how to make beds, vacuum & sweep floors, clean bathrooms, organize the cupboards, wash dishes, dry and put away, disinfect door knobs, mailboxes, common surfaces. Clean the car, the garage, the boat, the refrigerator. Cut and stack wood. Sweep the driveway. Rake the yard. Get garden beds ready. Plant garden starts indoors. Observe and admire your work.
To play together
You may be amazed what can be learned about money, resource management, justice, logic, problem solving, reading, math, democracy…but especially what can be learned about each other by playing games. Play board games and the old childhood games that are disappearing: Hide ‘n Seek, Sardines, 4 square, Tag games, Kick the Can, Capture the Flag, Hop Scotch, Jump Rope & Double Dutch, Jacks, Marbles, Mother May I, Red Light/Green Light, Spud, Cat’s Cradle, Musical Chairs, Hot & Cold, Battleship, Tic-tac-toe, Slap Hands, Catch, Blind Man’s Bluff, Marco Polo… Observe and relish your play.
To move together
Go for a run, a ski, a bike ride, a kayak/boat ride. Walk the dog. Build a fort or secret land. Enjoy the change in seasons, watch and listen to the returning birds, observe (smell) black cottonwood trees leafing out, take weather readings and predict the weather, move your bodies, walk with your breath. (NB: ‘phenology’ is the scientific study of seasonal change). Observe and remember your adventures.
To cook and dine together
You’ll do a lot more eating together than maybe anytime since your children were babies. Show them how to cook your favorite dishes (maybe something your parents made). And show the children how to set a proper table, how to have a conversation over a meal, how to serve tea, work on manners (grace and courtesy). Try to eat two meals a day together as a family. Starting and ending the day around the family table is a gift of talk and time. Observe and appreciate your food and family time.
To sing and make music together
If you don’t play an instrument, listen to your children practice their instruments. Sing a lullaby you sang to them when they were infants. Make a family song book and illustrate it. Listen to favorite artists and talk about what you like about their music (not their ‘image’ but their music). Singing together is a powerful way to build up the family structure – and by the way if only the prettiest birds sang – the forest would be silent. Where would our forests be without ravens and eagles and Stellar’s jays squawking across our mountains and valleys? There is beauty in the effort together. Observe and enjoy your music.
To make stuff, make art together
Be crafty, construct stuff from wood scraps, Legos, felt and yarn bits. Play dolls. Get out the glue and tape and papers and cloth. Sew, knit, crochet, make Origami, paint, compose music, write stories, make puppets, write a puppet play (or any play), perform a reader’s theatre after building the sets. Dance. Invent stuff. Practice the scientific method. Find the area of a room, the house, the yard, the street. Draw a map… Observe and admire your creativity.
To be quiet together
Make quiet. A small silent time everyday resets things, brings the family in balance.
Being quiet together is a powerful model for being still with one’s own thoughts. Reading, daydreaming, drawing…there are lots of ways to be quiet – but it is so dramatically powerful to value quiet and make it together. Observe and take delight in the peace.
To have fun together
Make laughter. It will be remembered best and most of all.
Read a funny story aloud. Tell jokes, tell stories about each other (and childhood stories), call grandma or grandpa and have them tell stories about their childhood (or your parents), forgive mistakes and laugh them off, chuckle at your inventions, creations, music…Observe yourselves and take yourselves lightly.
Think and play and move and work and create and laugh together.
This is a time to connect, not correct.
Have compassion for one another in this new time.
Everyone is generally doing the best they can under the most unusual circumstances.
Be together. There is enough time.
Do real things