We’re on YouTube!

We’re on YouTube!

We hope your children have been enjoying the videos shared this week. Here is one from Ms. Amber!

Ms. Amber and the Cookie Jar

To keep things a little more streamlined and accessible, Amber has created a YouTube channel called The Nest where we will post videos of ourselves singing some of our favorite songs, sharing some rhymes, and, hopefully reading some stories. We’re still reading up on infringement laws, but, we’re fortunate that so many folks are supporting educators by making these resources more accessible during these school closures. We’ll still be using the blog and our Instagram account to share pics, activity ideas, and additional videos, but we thought this might be an easier way for you to access videos, particularly for those kiddos who are wanting to watch them on repeat. 😉  Enjoy!

Meanwhile, check out this link to Scholastic where you can find a variety of books read aloud which your child can follow along to!

Help, how do I find time for it all?

Help, how do I find time for it all?

This week we’ve all been working at settling into a new routine or at least figuring out our new “normal”. On one hand, it feels as if we now have all the time in the world. On the other hand, there are moments when it feels like we don’t have time for all the new demands this situation places on those of us who are now balancing work and home life with everyone, including our children, at home.

Someone asked earlier this week, “Anyone else struggling with longer days and then wanting alone/reset time at night? I keep wishing I would set up an activity at night for mornings – and I know it’s me needing to adjust. Would love to hear what you all do first thing out of bed to kind of get everyone up slowly but with engagement!”

I have a few thoughts, though I welcome anyone to comment below and share your thoughts or suggestions . . .

  • First, yes, we are all adapting, and gradually we’ll settle into new routines just as our children are learning to do. This may be a process of experimentation, and some days will be easier than others. To begin, take some time to acknowledge where you are struggling/need support or areas that you want to tweak to make your life easier. Once you identify those areas, it will be easier to ask for what you need and take baby steps in that direction.
  • When you do have energy/time, think about setting small, attainable goals. Can you clear an area of your home as a designated independent play area? Can you clear some high shelves to stock with some special “ready-to-go” activities that can be pulled out with little to no prep, like play dough or an art basket? Can you set up a low shelf or cabinet where your child can access toys or activities that don’t require your immediate engagement first thing in the morning, like blocks, magnets or felt? Can you do any of this work with your child to save yourself time?
  • Much of this will be age-dependent, but there are ways you can accommodate, and if screen time is what allows you to gain a little time and preserve a little sanity, then that’s ok. You can then set up expectations and share them with your child. “You may watch one hour of cartoons while I work, then we’ll do an activity together.” or “Right now we are going to have independent play. That means you can choose between playing with toys in your room, going outside or reading books. After that, we’ll work on something together.” This may be challenging depending on age and temperament, but it’s a helpful practice and may help everyone in the long run.

Personally, I am working on getting enough rest and trusting that I’ll find time to do all the things and trusting each day that what I’m doing is enough! I’m resisting the urge to “catch up” on the news or social media and trying to involve Frances in brainstorming activities we can do together and that she can do independently. I’m also trying to involve her in cleaning the house and preparing spaces where she can work. I’m trying to do a little work at night, though trying to get to bed earlier. I aspire to wake up earlier than her to get some work done when I’m most productive or to have some “me” time. I also have recently resorted to allowing her limited screen time to first thing in the morning, so I can get myself sorted. Thank you PBS! I then feel more prepared and able to spend uninterrupted time with her the rest of the day.

I know each of our situations is unique, but hopefully there’s something here that will help and, of course, I’m here if you want to chat further! And, again, we’d love to hear from others. Feel free to comment here or reach out to each other directly. Sometimes it simply helps to vent and know that we’re not alone. ❤

Thank you, and moving forward . . .

Thank you, and moving forward . . .

Thank you to all for helping me brainstorm ways we can best support our children in the coming days and weeks. I want to send an especially big THANK YOU for your patience as I, like you, have been working on processing a mountain of information in trying to figure out how to move forward in taking care of my family and our community in these very strange times. I’m still not sure what the coming month will look like, but connecting with you and receiving pictures from you has helped. A special thank you to those of you who have already reached out and for sharing such great ideas via our parent survey. If we haven’t yet talked, I hope to connect with you soon!

It may take me some time to incorporate a few of these ideas, but here are a few ways I hope to stay connected with you moving forward . . .

  • Daily Instagram posts – I will likely post 2-3 a day. Each morning I’ll post a morning message to you, and either sing a song, read a story, or share activity ideas for the children. No pressure to read or like everything, I just want to post ideas as they come up for those of you who are looking for some inspiration!
  • Weekly blog posts – Posts will vary. Likely, I will elaborate on some of the activities I share on Instagram to give you ideas on how to extend those activities at home or use the blog to share additional resources, including recommended books.
  • Facetime and phone calls – I am available starting today to FaceTime between the hours of 10 and noon and later in the afternoon. Just shoot me a text when you’re available and we’ll make a plan, I’m flexible. and look forward to seeing the kiddos.
  • Virtual circle – I’m exploring the use of Zoom for a virtual circle time, so we can all see each other live. I never thought I’d see the day, but here we are. This, as with everything else, is optional, but I’d love to see you if possible. Details coming soon.

Finally, I want to encourage you all to reach out to each other! Some of you have already shared pics of your kiddos doing fun things at home, and I’m sure other parents would love to hear your ideas. I also think the children would love to see each other via FaceTime. I know that too much screen time is not ideal for our little ones, but in this very unprecedented time, we are having to adapt and, frankly, we are fortunate to have technology that we can use to our advantage at this time to stay connected with one another. Though it’s not what we’re accustomed to, any connection with others will help both you and your children at this time.

Stay well, and I look forward to seeing you soon!

In keeping with this week’s theme . . .

In keeping with this week’s theme . . .

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.

Read more

A couple of sample schedules . . .

A couple of sample schedules . . .

I’ve been talking about easing into a daily rhythm, but if you’re already feeling a need or if your child’s expressing a need for a little more structure, here are some sample age-appropriate schedules for you to consider:

AISD PreK Schedule – This schedule was shared by AISD for their PreK students. Although it’s designed for children a little older, I like the simplicity of sharing just a few ideas in various learning areas per day. By no means should you feel pressure to meet your child’s academic needs in all of these areas. It merely offers some examples of things you can do with your child to keep them busy during your days at home.

Working from Home with Kids – A Montessori Schedule – Another sample from the Kavanaugh Report which I like because it’s broken into huge chunks of time with sections for both parent and child, and it’s more Montessori-based than academic based.

IMG_4975
This is an example of a ritual that Frances and I have incorporated daily that looks somewhat like a to-do list, but we’re treating as a list of daily intentions, things that we’re hopeful to do or people we’re hopeful to connect with each day. I really like her priorities. Translated – “Watch a movie / toys / snacks / tea party with babies / coloring with stickers / playing records.”

I also want to acknowledge that these schedules might work for you or your older children, but if your toddler is needing something a little more tangible, I highly recommend creating a visual schedule. In short, you can take pictures of daily tasks and activities that your child engages in, print each picture and bind them together in a book so your child can read it and follow the sequence of photos each day. You can also print and tape them to the wall so they can refer to it daily. The advantage the wall option is that you can move the pictures around as needed to adjust for daily changes in your routine!

Pictures to consider adding . . . waking up, brushing teeth, breakfast, outside time, art or other daily activity, media time, lunch, nap, story time, movement, dinner, bath time, bedtime.

Schedule? Pants?

Schedule? Pants?

I mentioned I would share it, so here is our current “schedule.” It’s very loose, and, as mentioned, very spacious allowing for a lot of modification. With young children, order is more important than time, so as long as you are following a sort of regular sequence, regardless of how much time you spend on each activity, you will be able to provide some needed consistency for your little one allowing for more ease in your days over a period of time. Continuing special rituals, such as bedtime stories, or incorporating new rituals, such as a morning walk, will also help you provide some consistency over time, and your child will ease into the comfort of familiar routines and periods of connection with you.

7:00-8:00      
Wake up, meditate, and try to get some work done before Frances wakes up!
8:00-10:00  
Get ready for the day – Slowly make breakfast, wander around the house, clean up, brush teeth, etc., make a plan for the day
10:00-Noon  
Frances – Independent play or movie so I can work!
Noon-1:00
Lunch
1:00-3:00
Quiet work time with Frances, art projects, puzzles, practical life, sewing, baking, etc.
3:00-6:00
Outside time, go for a walk, yoga or dance, garden, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, etc.
(after convincing Frances to put on some clothes)
6:00-8:00
Dinner and bedtime routine

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P.S. Seriously, Frances told me yesterday that she never wants to wear clothes again. I said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Meanwhile, less laundry for me.”